Colorado Dram Shop Claims & Laws

Overserving Customers That Might Cause Accidents

While the term “dram shop law” might not be something you recognize immediately, you’re likely already familiar with what it refers to in the restaurant and bar industry. The law holds businesses liable for selling and/or serving alcohol to minors or individuals that are visibly intoxicated and later cause injury, property damage, and even death to another person.

What is a dram shop claim?

A dram shop claim is a lawsuit against the business that provided alcohol to a minor or visibly intoxicated person by or on behalf of the injured party. These claims are most commonly filed by those who were injured by a drunk driver, but there are a variety of other instances where a dram shop claim may be filed.

Colorado’s dram shop law

Most states have a dram shop law, and Colorado is no exception. Colorado Revised Statutes section 12-47-801 provides that alcohol vendors can be held liable for any injuries caused by someone they served alcohol to if they were under the age of 21 years or were visibly intoxicated.

Penalties for violating dram shop law

The business and the employee(s) that provided the alcohol can both be civilly liable and convicted and charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. Someone charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor can face between three to 12 months in prison and criminal fees ranging from $285 to $1,000. The business may also have its liquor license revoked and face further administrative fines.

Colorado Dram Shop Claims & Laws

Compensation in dram shop claims

A business that sells alcohol can also be liable for damages in a civil lawsuit brought by someone who has been injured or by the family of someone killed by a person who was served alcohol by that business. Plaintiffs in a dram shop law case can demand compensation for a variety of losses, including:

  • Ambulance, hospital fees, surgeries, therapy, long-term care, and other medical expenses
  • Hourly wages, salary, commission, bonuses, benefits, and other lost forms of income
  • Pain and suffering from both physical and emotional distress
  • Limited earning potential caused by a long-term impairment
  • Decreased quality of life and impairments that prevent participating in certain hobbies or events
  • Disfigurement

However, in Colorado, dram shop cases are limited by damage caps in most instances. Every case is different, however, and you should discuss with an experienced lawyer about the nature and extent of damages available and the responsibilities of a “dram shop.”

Why the term “dram shop?”

You might be wondering what “dram shop” means since it does not seem to have any connection to what the law is about or common current language that anyone identifies with these facts. It actually does – a “dram” used to be how alcohol was measured a few centuries ago. Thus, a “dram shop” is an archaic term referring to persons who sell liquor by the "dram."

Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers

If you’ve been injured by an intoxicated person, Whalen Injury Lawyers will help you build a case to hold everyone liable for your injuries – in many instances not just the drunk driver but also anyone who allowed that person to become intoxicated and evidence to show that an establishment should have stopped serving this person before they subsequently injured or killed someone. Colorado’s statute of limitations requires you to file a lawsuit against a “dram shop” within one year of the incident, so contact us for a consultation today!

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