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How Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws Affect Personal Injury Claims

How Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws Affect Personal Injury Claims

Dram shop laws refer to a set of policies that govern “dram shops,” which is just a dated term for an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. In particular, dram shop laws pertain to the understanding that these commercial fronts are expected to serve their customers responsibly and keep public safety in mind, never overserving people in the process. Despite being a seemingly unrelated third party, were you to be hit by a drunk driver, you might actually be able to sue whatever establishment overserved them, as they could have caused the impairment that caused your accident in turn.

Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws

Under A.R.S. 4-311, alcohol licensees are liable for the injuries or deaths caused by their patrons if all of the following are true:

  • How Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws Affect Personal Injury ClaimsThey sold alcohol to someone who was visibly and extensively impaired/  intoxicated, or they sold alcohol to an underage customer (whether knowingly or due to not checking ID). 
  • That individual they sold the alcohol to then consumed the alcohol provided
  • That act of consuming alcohol was a proximate cause of whatever injury or fatality the individual then inflicted

Proving that these prerequisites were met, however, is more difficult than one would think. To begin with, you’ll need evidence that the intoxicated individual was visibly and significantly impaired at the time of sale, assuming that they weren’t a minor; this can potentially be corroborated by security camera footage and bank records showing that they’d purchased large amounts of alcohol prior. In particular, eyewitness testimonies can be key in proving this fact, as it’s purely a matter of “reasonable perception,” rather than any particular BAC. Once intoxication is established, proving that sale and consumption occurred is generally quite simple; the same sources can demonstrate both.

However, even if a shop sold alcohol to an excessively intoxicated individual or minor, that isn’t enough on its own to render them liable for damages which that individual inflicted. You still need to prove “proximate cause,” which simply means that you need to prove that the act of drinking alcohol at that shop had a direct, immediate impact on the acquisition or extent of an injury. If the intoxicated individual only had a sip of alcohol at the shop, then got into an accident, that might not be enough to prove proximate cause; similarly, if they drank plenty, but then went home, slept, imbibed more alcohol, and then got into an accident the next day, the cause would no longer be “proximate,” and thus the shop would not be liable.

Personal Injury Compensation in Arizona

Dram shop laws provide vital, alternative forms of compensation for victims of drunk drivers and other intoxicated individuals. This is especially true when dealing with an underinsured driver who was also drinking; drunk driving accidents generally have extensive damages involved, which may quickly exceed the coverage an individual has, especially if they only barely adhere to Arizona’s minimum insurance requirements.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a drunk individual’s negligence, give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate personal injury lawyer in Arizona. We’re fully versed in Arizona’s unique alcohol-related laws and case precedents, and can take the burden of the claims process off of your hands, helping you to secure a just and reasonable settlement package in the process.