Under Georgia's Dram Shop Act, establishments serving alcoholic beverages to their customers have a duty to ensure that they do not over-serve someone. In addition, these establishments also have a duty to provide adequate security to guard against criminal assaults to other innocent customers under O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. For more information on injury from lack of security, please visit our negligent security page.
PROVING FAULT FOR OVER SERVING ALCOHOL RESULTING IN A VICTIM'S INJURY OR DEATH
Generally under O.C.G.A. § 41-1-40(b), a person who sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a 21 year old or older person is not responsible for causing injury or death to another person by an intoxicated person. Under O.C.G.A. § 41-1-40(a), Georgia's Dram Shop Act assigns fault for the consumption of alcoholic beverages rather than the sale or serving of alcoholic beverages as the proximate cause of any injury or death by an intoxicated person.
However, there are two exceptions.
- Under O.C.G.A. § 41-1-40(b), a person who knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a noticeably intoxicated person and knows that person will be driving a motor vehicle soon may be responsible for injury or death caused by such intoxicated person.
- Under O.C.G.A. § 41-1-40(b), a person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a minor and knows that minor will be driving a motor vehicle soon may be held responsible for injury or death to an innocent victim.
However, there are some exceptions to the potential fault of the drinking establishment. The Georgia Dram Shop Act does not impose any fault on those who merely provides the place where alcohol is consumed. See Viau v. Dean, 203 Ga. App. 801, 418 S.E.2d 604 (1992) and Kappa sigma Int'l Fraternity v. Tootle, 221 Ga. App. 890, 473 S.E.2d 213 (1996).
In addition, a person who owns, leases, or lawfully occupies a place that is not licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages is not responsible to a person consuming alcoholic beverages on site without the consent of such owner, lessee, or lawful occupant under O.C.G.A. § 41-1-40(d).
COMMON OVERLAPPING ISSUES
- A common result that arises from a drinking establishment over-serving one of its customers is a motor vehicle crash by a drunk driver. In this situation, the victim would have a claim against both the drunk driver and each of the drinking establishment that may be found liable. Please see our drunk driver crash injuries page for more details.
- Another common occurrence is the criminal assault of a customer by the drinking establishment's bouncer or security staff. As such, the victim may have a claim against that security staff member and drinking establishment. Whether the drinking establishment is liable will depend on if the security staff was acting within the scope of his or her employment.
- The other common incident is the criminal assault of a customer by another intoxicated customer. This is discussed more in detail on our negligent security page.
HOW WE CAN HELP
When you have been injured because of a criminal assault at a drinking establishment or a motor vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver, the overlapping issues and claims may complicate your claim. Our expertise can guide you into finding all parties that may be responsible for your injuries arising from drinking establishments. We will explain your rights and seek to maximize the compensation that you deserve as an innocent victim.