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Reviewing Kentucky's dram shop law

Richmond residents are likely well aware of how dangerous a drunk driver can be. They may not know, however, exactly how costly a collision caused by such a driver can come out to. Information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drunk driving accidents result in a average of $44 billion in annual costs. Often, an individual accident victim may find that insurance coverage is not enough to deal with the expenses he or she is left to face. The question then becomes who else (if anyone) beyond the driver that struck him or her can be held liable. 

In many cases, one simply does not become intoxicated on his or her own. Another party (often a social host or an establishment) will often provide him or her with the alcoholic beverages that contribute to his or her intoxication. Say that one is at a party hosted by a friend. That friend serves alcohol, which the person consumes to the point of becoming drunk. He or she then drives away and subsequently causes an accident. Is the friend liable for not ensuring that he or she was fit to drive, or for serving alcohol at all? Kentucky state law says no. It recognizes proximate liability as lying solely with the driver in such cases. 

The same cannot be said for establishments that serve alcohol to their patrons. Section 413.241(2) of Kentucky's Revised Statutes states if such a business (or its employees) sells and/or serves alcohol to one that a reasonable person would recognize as being drunk, it can be held liable for any damages that person later causes. This statute is known as the state's "dram shop law." 

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Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold

225 West Irvine Street
Richmond, KY 40475

Toll Free: 800-494-9916
Phone: 859-353-0878
Fax: 859-623-6406
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P.O. Box 157
Richmond, KY 40476