Social Host Liability
Individuals who serve alcohol in Georgia may be held responsible for the injuries or damages caused by a person who was noticeably drunk or underage when they served them. This is a part of Georgia’s Dram Shop Act. It applies to social hosts of parties, picnics, family reunions and other gatherings.
Georgia enacted its Dram Shop Act in 1998. It is usually invoked to confer liability on bars, restaurants or retail establishments. However, the statute addresses the liability of “a person.” This means that it is not limited to businesses.
At Millar & Mixon, LLC, we assist Atlanta and Georgia residents who have been harmed by a drunk driving accident after the driver attended a private party where alcohol was served. A Georgia Dram Shop Act claim against a social host may help you to obtain compensation for your losses and hold a party host accountable for their irresponsible actions.
To receive a free initial consultation about your case, call us today or use our online contact form. A lawyer from Millar & Mixon, LLC will talk to you by telephone about your rights, review your options and get started right away on helping you to seek justice.
Social Host Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident
Georgia’s Dram Shop Act outlines liability for acts of intoxicated persons. The law has traditionally been applied to bars, taverns, nightclubs, concert venues, restaurants, liquor stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and other businesses licensed to sell alcohol. But the law can be applied equally to those who host parties at which alcohol is served.
Generally speaking, under the Dram Shop Act, a social host can be held liable if the host:
- Sells, furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages;
- Serves a person who is not of lawful drinking age (under age 21) or who is in a state of noticeable intoxication; and
- Knowingly serves a person who will soon be driving a motor vehicle.
Social host liability can arise in any number of situations.
For instance, when parents of a teenager allow alcohol to be served at their children’s party, and an underage drinker later causes a wreck that results in injury or death, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit could be brought against the parents. You would need to show that the hosting parents knew the teen was not of lawful drinking age and that the teen would soon drive a car.
Another example would be a Georgia business hosting an office Christmas party or summer picnic for its workers. The business could be liable for the damages or injuries caused by an employee who was already noticeably intoxicated yet was served more alcohol and later drove home.
Court rulings have interpreted “knowingly” broadly. The courts say that this means “should have known” with reasonable care or inquiry. Courts have also interpreted “soon” loosely. The Georgia Supreme Court recently found that a claim could be made for a wreck that occurred four-and-a-half hours after a minor bought alcohol from a convenience store.
There are limitations. Georgia’s Dram Shop Act says that individuals (but not alcohol-selling businesses) are not liable for those who drink on their property “in the absence of and without the consent of the owner, lessee or lawful occupant.” So, if teens threw a party at their home that their parents did not know about, it is unlikely that the parents could be held liable for damage or injury that the underage drinkers caused later.
Seeking Compensation for Social Hosts in DUI Accident Cases
Anyone who has been injured in a drunk driving accident in Georgia needs to understand the circumstances that led to the wreck, particularly where the driver was drinking and who supplied the alcohol. There may be compensation available that will help the injured parties in their recovery as they seek to rebuild a shattered life.
At Millar & Mixon, LLC, we have extensive experience in litigating DUI accident cases. We know how to uncover all of the facts surrounding these accidents, and we know how to determine who should be held responsible for the losses you have sustained.
We will seek compensation for medical treatment, time away from work, property damage and for the pain and suffering you have sustained. We also may seek punitive damages, which are awarded to punish and deter certain levels of misconduct. There is no cap on these damages if the case involves a drunk driver.
Our Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Want to Help You
At Millar & Mixon, LLC, our Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyers believe strongly in seeking justice when intoxicated drivers and their social hosts cause innocent victims to suffer losses. We aggressively pursue compensation from all parties who are responsible for causing accidents, injuries and deaths.
To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at our toll-free number or use our online form. We can provide a free initial consultation. If we accept your case, then we will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing for our attorney fees unless we recover money for you.