Many states have laws governing liability in cases where a person or business provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing injury to a third party. These statutes are often known as "dram shop" laws (so named because alcohol was once sold by a unit of measurement called a "dram"). When a non-vendor is sued for supplying alcohol to a person who then causes an accident, it's sometimes called a "social host liability" lawsuit.
In this article, we'll discuss Arkansas's third-party liability laws for alcohol-related accidents.
Arkansas's dram shop laws allow an injured party to seek damages against an alcohol vendor for damages caused by a patrol to whom the vendor sold alcohol knowing (or under circumstances where the vendor reasonably should have known) the patron was:
The law defines "clearly intoxicated" as being so obviously intoxicated that the person presents a clear danger to others.
Let's look at a situation where dram shop laws might apply. Suppose that Dan is hanging out at Belle's Bar. Although he is slurring his speech and has fallen off his barstool twice, Belle the bartender keeps serving him drinks. As Dan is leaving the bar, he trips and falls against Penny, knocking her to the ground and injuring her. Penny can sue Dan for damages related to her injuries but can also sue Belle's Bar under the state's dram shop law for serving Dan while he was clearly intoxicated.
Unlike with the dram shop law, social hosts generally can't be held liable for providing alcohol to an intoxicated adult who subsequently causes an accident. However, social hosts can be held liable for providing alcohol to minors who are not legally old enough to drink.
Dram shop and social host liability claims are civil cases, meaning that liability is expressed solely in terms of money damages. A person who files a dram shop or social host case might seek damages for compensable losses such as:
Dram shop claims must be filed within a particular time period that is set by a state law known as a statute of limitations. To make sure your rights are protected, talk to an attorney as soon as possible after suffering an injury.