Injured in a Tennessee DUI accident? The dram shop act may allow you to file a claim for compensation against a bar or nightclub in the wake of an alcohol-related accident.
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Were you or a loved one injured in a drunk driving accident in Tennessee?
After a severe crash, it's only natural to begin considering filing a lawsuit, but most people assume that their lawsuit should be filed against the person who was directly responsible for the crash, the drunk driver. That's certainly true. You may have a viable claim for negligence against the driver, but Tennessee law could offer you an additional option.
Tennessee Dram Shop Lawsuits
Tennessee's powerful dram shop law could allow you to file suit against bar, restaurant or nightclub where the driver got drunk. These are known as dram shop lawsuits.
Dram shop lawsuits must be based in violations of the Tennessee dram shop act, which holds licensed establishments accountable for negligent alcohol service. In this context, there are two major violations to look out for:
- serving alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 21)
- serving alcohol to a person who is already "visibly intoxicated"
Either of these violations can serve as the foundation for a dram shop claim for compensation. If a licensed establishment violates the law, and the patron, in their intoxication, goes on to cause an accident, the establishment can be held accountable for serving alcohol in a negligent manner.
Criminal Standard Of Proof
Dram shop lawsuits in Tennessee are controlled by a far higher standard of proof than is necessary to win the usual civil injury claim. In Tennessee, dram shop plaintiffs must prove their cases "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is the same standard of proof used in criminal cases.
Most injury lawsuits are governed by a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, which asks if over 50% of the evidence proves the case.
Short Statute Of Limitations
Like every other type of lawsuit, civil dram shop claims are governed by a strict statute of limitations. This law serves like a legal time limit; file your lawsuit after the statute has run out and you can expect your case to be dismissed. The statute of limitations for dram shop lawsuits in Tennessee is only 1 year, beginning on the date of the injury.