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What are dram shop laws?

If you happen to be involved in a car accident involving a drunk driver in Bozeman, some solace may come from seeing that driver face criminal penalties due to his or her reckless decision-making. However, that solace may mean little of your left dealing with inordinate accident expenses. Getting added compensation to cover these costs from the driver may be difficult, especially if he or she is also facing legal troubles. What the about the parties or that establishment that help the driver that hit you to become impaired?

Dram shop laws are those that assign liability to any parties who may have served a person alcohol prior to him or her causing an accident. You might be quick to assume that these laws apply to all drunk driving cases, but they do not. In fact, according to Section 27-1-710 of Montana’s Annotated Code, the state’s dram shop law only applies in the following scenarios:

  •          If an establishment or party continued to serve the drunk driver in question alcohol even after he or she clearly appeared to be intoxicated.
  •          If an establishment or party lied to a patron about the presence of alcohol in his or her drink.
  •          If a party or an employee of an establishment coerced one into drinking alcohol.
  •          If an establishment or party knowingly served alcohol to a minor, or made no reasonable attempts to ascertain a drinker’s age.

In such a case, you may be allowed to recover up to $250,000 in both punitive and noneconomic damages from any parties found liable under this statute. If needs be, you may also be able to cite the details of any criminal charges assessed to the driver in your case as evidence to support your liability claim. 

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