In limited circumstances, Colorado personal injury victims may be entitled to compensation from a bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver.
Can Bars be Liable for an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
Yes. Under Colorado’s Dram Shop Law, a person injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver may hold a bar or restaurant liable if the bartender or server willfully and knowingly served alcohol to an underaged or a visibly intoxicated guest. This is not in lieu of legal action against the drunk driver, but rather a separate cause of action against the establishment.
Colorado’s law makes it difficult to prove these claims because bartenders and servers rarely admit knowledge. Importantly, actual knowledge is not required if victims can demonstrate constructive knowledge, defined as the “knowledge that one using reasonable care or diligence should have, therefore that is attributed by law to a given person.” In other words, a bartender or server may be deemed to have knowledge if, in the exercise of ordinary diligence, they should have known they were serving alcohol to an underaged or a visibly intoxicated guest.
Could a Bartender Face Criminal Charges?
Yes. In Colorado, bartenders and servers could face criminal charges for serving alcohol to an underage or a visibly intoxicated guest. According to Colorado law, they could face a Class 2 Misdemeanor, up to 12 months in jail, fines up to $1,000.00, and the suspension or revocation of a state-issued license to serve alcohol.
Can Party Hosts be Liable for an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
Possibly. Colorado’s Dram Shop laws do not have the same effect on party hosts who serve alcohol in private settings. Specifically, party hosts may face liability to people injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver if there is evidence showing the party host knowingly served alcohol to a person under the age of 21. Party hosts are not liable, however, if they served a visibly intoxicated person who later causes a drunk driving accident. Click here for more information on party host liability.
Are there Caps in Dram Shop Cases?
Yes. Injury victims can recover medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and permanent impairment. Total compensation is limited to $150,000.00. It is also important to note Dram Shop lawsuits must be filed within 1 year of the drunk driving accident or the claim may be forever barred.
Contact a Colorado Dram Shop Lawyer Today
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact the Colorado personal injury law firm of Bowman Law LLC, at 720.863.6904 or email us to schedule a free and flexible initial consultation.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.