Were you or a loved one injured in a drunk driving accident? Washington's dram shop law may be able to help. Licensed establishments can be held liable for negligent alcohol service when an accident occurs.
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Injured in a drunk driving accident in Washington? Faced by rising medical expenses and lost wages, it's only natural to begin considering a lawsuit after a severe DUI accident.
Filing A Dram Shop Lawsuit In Washington
While most of us assume that we can only file suit against the responsible driver, the drunk who hit us, Washington State law may actually provide you with another avenue for legal course. According to the dram shop act, injury victims and their families can file a claim for compensation against the bar, restaurant or nightclub where the drunk driver received alcohol.
Violations Of State Liquor Law
In Washington, licensed establishments can be held accountable for serving alcohol in a negligent manner. Specifically, Washington's dram shop act applies to situations in which a licensed establishment serves alcohol to a minor, someone under the age of 21.
If an intoxicated minor goes on to cause a DUI accident or start a bar fight, the establishment can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.
Washington's courts have expanded this right to include cases in which bars, restaurants or nightclubs serve alcohol to someone who is already "obviously intoxicated." In total, either of the following two violations can serve as the basis for a dram shop lawsuit:
- serving alcohol to a minor
- serving alcohol to someone who is "apparently under the influence" or "obviously intoxicated"
These are both violations of Washington State law.
Limited Social Host Liability
In some cases, dram shop liability even extends to cover social hosts, who serve alcohol or make it available at private parties. Social hosts in Washington can be held accountable for allowing minors to drink, in the event that an intoxicated minor goes on to cause severe injuries. Social hosts can not be held liable for the actions of drunken adults.
3-Year Statute Of Limitations
Like every other type of lawsuit, dram shop claims in Washington are controlled by a strict statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is like a legal time limit; choose to file suit after the statute has run out and your case will be dismissed. The statute of limitations for dram shop lawsuits is currently set at 3 years, beginning on the date of the injury.