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

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

In Wyoming, as in every state, if you're injured by an intoxicated person, you can bring a personal injury claim against that individual. And in many states, an injured person might also be able to bring a claim against the business (such as a bar or restaurant) or other third party that provided the alcohol to the intoxicated person. These types of claims are typically called "dram shop" claims when against a business and "social host liability" claims when against a person who provides alcohol at a party or another private social event.

Here's how Wyoming law works for third-party liability applied to alcohol-related accidents.

Wyoming's Dram Shop Law

Wyoming Statutes section 12-8-301 states that "no person who has legally provided alcoholic liquor or malt beverage to any other person is liable for damages caused by the intoxication of that other person." In other words, an alcohol vendor can't be held liable for the injuries or damages caused by an intoxicated patron so long as the vendor "legally" provided the alcohol.

There are various ways vendors can violate the law when selling alcohol and, in doing so, expose themselves to liability. However, one of the most common scenarios where this happens is unlawfully selling alcohol to someone who is underage.

Here's an example. Suppose that Della stops at Rosie's Restaurant for some drinks. The waiter knows Della is underage but serves her several drinks anyway. After becoming intoxicated, Della gets in her car and starts to drive home. However, while en route, Della collides with a car driven by Arthur. Arthur is seriously injured in the accident.

Under Wyoming law, Rosie's Restaurant isn't shielded from liability because it unlawfully provided alcohol to Della, an underage patron. Accordingly, Arthur can sue Della for causing his injuries and Rosie's Restaurant for providing Della with the alcohol that caused her intoxication.

Social Host Liability in Wyoming

With respect to providing alcohol to minors, Wyoming law doesn't differentiate between alcohol vendors and social hosts. So, in the example given above, if Della had received the drinks a backyard barbeque instead of Rosie's Restaurant, Arthur would have a remedy against Della and the social host who provided Della with alcohol at the barbeque.

Damages in Wyoming Alcohol-Related Injury Claims

A person who's injured in an alcohol-related incident may be able to receive compensation for his or her losses suffered as a result of the accident or injury (these losses are called "damages" in legalese). Common types of damages in alcohol-related injury cases include:

  • costs of medical treatment, including hospital bills and pharmacy bills
  • lost wages if the injured person misses work due to injury
  • the value of lost future wages and benefits if the injured person is no longer able to work due to the effects of the injury
  • pain and suffering, and
  • property loss or damage related to the accident.

If you've been injured in an alcohol-related accident, a good first step would be to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney in your area. And, to ensure your rights are protected, you'll want to do this as soon as possible after suffering injuries.

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