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Drunk Driving Accidents and Indiana Dram Shop Laws

Accidents caused by drinking and driving claim the lives of an average of 32 people daily in the United States. These deaths are entirely preventable, caused by the thoughtlessness or selfishness of drivers who get behind the wheel while they are impaired. 

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter or higher in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In Utah, the limit is even lower:  .05 (g/dL). According to the NHTSA, the quality of a person’s driving can be affected even with a BAC of .02. However, at .08, the following serious impairments can be evident:

  • Muscle coordination (balance, speech, vision, reaction time, hearing)
  • Concentration
  • Ability to detect danger
  • Judgment
  • Self-control
  • Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Information processing capability
  • Perception

Drinking and Driving Accident Statistics 

In Indiana, 3,820 motor vehicle accidents occurred because of drunk driving in 2020. This included 106 fatalities and 907 non-fatal injuries. In order to be adequately compensated for the avalanche of medical bills, not to mention income loss and pain and suffering, a victim of a drunk driver’s negligent driving has to file an insurance claim or file a civil personal injury lawsuit. 

Since insurance companies are notoriously reluctant to offer adequate compensation, it is advisable to engage an experienced Indiana car accident lawyer to negotiate for you. It may be necessary for your attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit to make sure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve.

However, sometimes drunk drivers are unable to pay large claims, especially if there has been a costly catastrophic injury.  Serious injuries often need months or years of medical intervention, physical therapy, medications, and assistive devices. The bills mount up quickly, and finances can suffer, particularly when there is also lost revenue due to an inability to work.

In some cases, it is possible (and even necessary) to sue multiple responsible parties in order to obtain full compensation. 

Indiana Dram Shop Law

Indiana’s Dram Shop Act became law in 1986, and it allows lawsuits against people who supply alcohol to intoxicated guests or patrons who then drive and are involved in drinking and driving accidents. 

Under Indiana Code (IC) 7.1-5-10-15.5, those who furnish (provide) alcohol to others are liable for civil action only if both of the following conditions are met:

  1. The person furnishing the alcohol knew that the person they were giving it to was intoxicated at the time.
  2. The intoxication of the person who had been furnished with alcohol was the proximate (foreseeable) cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint. (in other words, the defendant’s intoxication caused the car accident to happen). 

Indiana dram shop law is not only aimed at bartenders; it applies to any person or entity who may serve alcohol to a clearly intoxicated person who then goes on to drive and cause harm. 

These entities can include (but are not limited to)

  • Bars
  • Clubs
  • Sports stadiums
  • Theaters
  • Liquor stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Breweries

Furthermore, social hosts can also be held liable for overserving intoxicated guests who then drive and cause accidents. A social host is anyone who hosts an event (such as a party, shower, wedding, or barbeque). The host must have knowledge that the intoxicated person is going to drive in order to be held liable. 

Getting Guidance from the Experts at Crossen Law Firm

Indiana dram shop law is complicated, and not all lawsuits are successful. It is crucial to work with a drunk driving car accident attorney who is experienced in navigating the challenges of Indiana drinking and driving laws and dram shop laws. You need someone to protect your legal rights, investigate your claim, gather and examine the evidence, and work to obtain the highest possible compensation for your case. 

Crossen Law Firm fights aggressively to ensure full and fair compensation for our clients. Schedule a free consultation about your situation today.  Call 317-401-8626 or Contact Us online.