Dram Shop Actions

In Alabama, there is a statute referred to as “The Dram Shop Act” that grants a right of action on behalf of a person who is injured by an intoxicated person as a consequence of a defendant selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of liquors or alcoholic beverages. As a practical matter, the statute provides a mechanism of liability to minors or third-parties that are injured by others who were sold or given alcohol.

Actions Involving Minors

Minors that are served or sold alcohol and then are injured themselves may have an action against the defendants that provided, served, or sold it to them. This is a first-party action that can be brought on behalf of the minor or his parents or guardian representatives. In addition, third-parties also have a right of action against the provider of alcohol if they are personally injured by the acts of an intoxicated minor.

Actions Involving Adults

There is a difference under the statute with regard to intoxicated adults that are served or sold alcohol and then cause harm to others. If a defendant provides or sells alcohol to an adult, there is generally no liability for acts of harm to the intoxicated person. For example, an adult buys and consumes alcohol at a bar and then leaves and gets in a car wreck and injures himself. He cannot sue the bar owner under the Dram Shop Act for his own injury. However, if he was in a car wreck that involved other individuals and he was at fault, the bar owner may be liable under the statute to those injured by the intoxicated customer. There may be other avenues of general common law negligence against the bar owner for harm to the intoxicated person himself under certain circumstances.

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