Washington, D.C. Dram Shop Laws

Washington, D.C. Dram Shop Laws2018-08-10T13:57:41+00:00
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You may be able to file a dram shop lawsuit. Learn more in a free legal consultation today.

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Injured in a DUI accident in Washington, D.C.? You may be eligible for significant financial compensation. After a severe accident, it's only natural to begin considering a lawsuit, but most people think they can only file suit against the drunk driver, the person who was directly responsible for the crash. That's not entirely accurate.

Filing A Dram Shop Claim In Washington, D.C.

In D.C., a strong body of case law allows injury victims and their loved ones to file suit against the bars, restaurants and nightclubs who serve alcohol to people who go on to become drunk drivers. This is known as dram shop liability.

Washington Monument

Violations Of D.C. Liquor Law

Dram shop lawsuits must be based on a violation of D.C.'s extensive liquor code, which regulates the way bars, restaurants, nightclubs and liquor stores sell and serve alcohol. If a licensed establishment violates the law, they can be held accountable for doing so. In this context, a few specific violations are worth noting:

  • serving alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated
  • serving alcohol to someone who appears to be intoxicated
  • serving alcohol to "a person of notoriously intemperate habits" (an alcoholic)
  • serving alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 21)

Any one of these 4 violations can serve as the basis for a dram shop lawsuit, if the intoxicated person goes on to cause a DUI accident, start a bar fight or cause some other alcohol-related accident.

No Social Host Liability

Unfortunately, this form of dram shop liability does not extend to cover social hosts, people who serve alcohol or make it available at private parties. In some states, social hosts can be held accountable in court for negligent alcohol service when a drunken guest goes on to cause severe injuries. D.C.'s courts don't allow this sort of lawsuit.

3-Year Statute Of Limitations

Like any type of lawsuit, dram shop claims are controlled by a rigorous statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a legal time limit; if you try to file your case after the statute has run out, your lawsuit will be dismissed, with no chance at compensation. Obviously, respecting the statute of limitations should be paramount in your mind. The statute of limitations for dram shop lawsuits in Washington, D.C. is 3 years, beginning on the date of injury.

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