Drunk Driving: Far Reaching Liability for Damages Caused by Intoxicated Drivers

A drunk driver can cause tremendous damage and injury to motorists and pedestrians alike.  Of course, those injured by those who drink and drive can recover from the drunken motorists and their insurance carriers for the damages caused.  However, in specific circumstances, Indiana law also holds the bars, liquor stores and individuals who serve drunk drivers responsible as well.

Liability of Establishments Furnishing Alcohol

Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15.5 states that those who furnish alcohol are responsible for resulting damages and injuries if they had actual knowledge that the persons to whom the alcoholic beverages were furnished were visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was served.  This statute is not limited just to bars and liquor stores, but also applies to social gatherings in homes and other settings.

Proving that bar or liquor store patrons, or guests at gatherings or assemblies, were visibly intoxicated when they were served a drink – and that the servers had knowledge of the persons’ intoxication – can be a difficult task.  Still, this Indiana statute acts to hold those who provide alcohol to their customers and guests accountable, and establishes a specific responsibility upon those who furnish alcohol.

Attentiveness and responsibility are key.  Those who operate businesses that serve alcohol to patrons should take particular care in training and supervising service employees to recognize and handle situations in which patrons may appear to have had too much to drink.  Those who serve alcohol to guests in their homes and social settings need to be vigilant as well.  Your guests are your responsibility.  Stay engaged with your guests and have non-alcoholic beverages to offer as an alternative.  If someone seems as if they may have had too much to drink, do not be hesitant or afraid to suggest that they move to a non-alcoholic alternative, and to see that they have a safe means to travel home.

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