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Car accident victim alleges dram shop liability

Illinois readers might not be surprised by news of a personal injury lawsuit brought by a motor vehicle accident victim against a drunk driver. However, readers may not have known that a club or other establishment may also face third party liability for a car crash caused by one of its drunk patrons.

Under the Illinois Dram Shop Act, establishments have a legal duty to avoid serving alcoholic beverages to clearly intoxicated patrons, as well as to minors. If a patron becomes drunk and subsequently injures another driver in a motor vehicle accident, the club that served the patron alcohol may be exposed to liability. In a personal injury lawsuit, the club could even be ordered to compensate the drunk driving victim for pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses and other costs.


A recent case involved this very issue. Two friends had consumed alcoholic beverages at an Illinois nightclub before leaving for home. Unfortunately, the driver may have underestimated his level of impairment. His allegedly drunk driving resulted in the car hitting a utility pole. The force of the impact caused the car to roll, and the friend, who was a passenger in the vehicle, sustained injuries to her pelvis and legs.

The passenger subsequently brought a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. She claims that her personal injuries have incurred more than $50,000 in medical expenses and lost wages. In addition, her complaint also named the nightclub as a defendant, alleging dram shop liability. The woman claims that the nightclub was negligent in over serving her friend, despite visible signs of obvious intoxication and impaired behavior.

The nightclub denies that it was negligent, and in the alternative, alleges that the friend is guilty of allowing her friend to drink and drive.

Source:, “Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club seeks medical records of plaintiff involved in accident,” Christina Stueve Hodges, April 22, 2013

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