Iowa Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability for Alcohol-Related Accidents

When an intoxicated person injures someone else in Iowa, can a third party be liable for providing the alcohol?

By , Attorney

In every U.S. state, if you're injured by someone who is intoxicated, you can bring a personal injury claim against that person. But many states, including Iowa, also have laws that, in certain circumstances, allow an injured person to seek damages against the person or business that provided the alcohol

In this article, we'll examine the current state of laws in Iowa when it comes to third-party liability for alcohol-related accidents (the "third party" being the provider of alcohol).

Iowa's Dram Shop Law

Iowa Code section 123.92 is the state's dram shop law. Under this law, an alcohol vendor (someone licensed to sell alcohol) can be held liable for the damages or injuries caused by an intoxicated patron if the vendor sold alcohol to the patron while the patron was "visibly intoxicated."

Here's an example illustrating how Iowa's dram shop law works. Suppose that, after a hard day at work, Drake stops by Benny's Bar for a few drinks. The bartender, Benny, notices that Drake is becoming increasingly intoxicated with each drink, but Benny continues to serve Drake anyway. After several drinks, Drake gets off his barstool and heads for the bathroom. On the way, he stumbles into Pamela, knocking her to the floor and injuring her.

Pamela can bring a personal injury claim against Drake for causing her injuries. Under Iowa's dram shop law, she can also bring a claim against Benny's Bar for continuing to serve Drake alcohol even though he was visibly intoxicated.

Social Host Liability in Iowa

Under Iowa Code section 123.49, social hosts generally can't be held liable for serving alcohol to a guest who then causes an accident while intoxicated. However, there's an exception to this general rule for circumstances where a social host knowingly serves alcohol to underage guests.

Damages and Time Limits in Iowa Dram Shop Claims

Dram shop claims are civil lawsuits, meaning that liability is expressed solely in terms of money damages. Common damages in these types of cases include things like medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, and pain and suffering.

Iowa has strict limits that apply to dram shop and social host liability cases. To ensure your rights are protected, get in contact with an attorney right away after suffering an injury.

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