Dram Shop Act protects those injured in drunk driving accidents

The holiday season is always a busy time. People spend a lot of time traveling to homes of relatives or to bars and restaurants to celebrate the past year. Unfortunately, family gatherings and office parties provide several opportunities for motorists to have too much to drink before getting behind the wheel.

Drunk driving accidents frequently lead to serious injuries or death. Those who have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of these crashes might be able to receive compensation. Victims may pursue personal injury claims against those drivers that have caused their injuries.

What many people may not know is that there may be other parties that may be responsible for causing drunk driving accidents. Massachusetts, like many other states, has a dram shop law that may permit lawsuits against bar owners for serving alcohol to those that caused the crashes.

Dram Shop in Massachusetts

Under the dram shop law, a plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the drunk driver was showing outward signs of intoxication and still being served drinks at the establishment. This can be achieved either by witnesses describing the behavior of the individual, which can include slurred speech or difficulty walking. This may also include evidence about the individual's alcohol intake. If the bar served an individual an excessive amount of alcohol during the night, it may be held liable for serving an already drunk patron, even if signs of intoxication are not necessarily present.

These lawsuits are slightly different than other types of Massachusetts personal injury cases. When a person files a suit under the dram shop laws, he or she has 90 days from the time the suit is filed to submit an affidavit listing enough facts that show the potential liability of those being sued. Either side may then file for summary judgment, which means that the party feels that judgment should be entered in their favor.

If the person alleging negligence on the bar or bar personnel loses at this time, he or she may appeal this decision. However, the plaintiff must put up a bond of $2000 per defendant, to be used for attorney's fees and court costs if the plaintiff's case proves to be unsuccessful.

Because of the potentially complicated nature of these cases, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the options that may be available to you. Once the lawsuit is filed, plaintiffs need to show why they have a case. Those who have handled these cases in the past know the sort of information that the court will need to see, and how you can improve your chances of receiving compensation.