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What You Should Know About Indiana Dram Shop Law

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2020 | Car Accidents

Indiana dram shop law allows a person injured in an alcohol-related accident to file a civil suit for damages against the person who caused the accident, as well as the individual or establishment that sold or served alcohol to the intoxicated person.

Dram Shop Law and Liability

In Indiana, dram shop laws are in place to prevent drunk driving accidents and provide relief for injury and fatality victims in alcohol-related car crashes. These laws allow an injury victim to sue the person responsible for the drunk driving accident and the establishment and/or individual who provided the drunk driver with alcohol.

Indiana dram shop law states that a person who “furnishes” (sells, serves, or gives) alcohol to a person who then causes injury to another person is only liable for injuries under certain conditions:

  • the person who furnished the alcohol had actual knowledge that the person being served was intoxicated at the time alcohol was provided
  • the person’s alcohol intoxication was a foreseeable cause of the injuries

“Actual knowledge” of intoxication usually refers to visible indicators such as slurred speech, loss of balance, uncoordinated body movements, and unusual behaviors, while “inferable evidence” refers to knowledge of how much alcohol a person has consumed.

Vendors and Social Hosts

When determining third-party liability for alcohol-related injuries, Indiana does not distinguish between licensed alcohol vendors who sell or serve alcohol to paying customers and social hosts who provide alcohol to guests at private parties and social events. Civil liability for injuries can extend to individuals hosting private parties in a residence or a public place, if alcoholic beverages are served or given to guests, especially minors, who are intoxicated. If an intoxicated guest injures another guest at a private social event, the injured guest can file a personal injury claim with an accident lawyer against the homeowner or person hosting the event.

Filing a Dram Shop Claim

According to Indiana’s statute of limitations, dram shop and social host claims are civil lawsuits that must be filed within two years of the date of injury. Although Indiana dram shop law allows a victim of an alcohol-related accident to file a third-party claim against a vendor or social host, it does not allow the intoxicated party to file a claim or collect for damages, even if the intoxicated party also suffers injuries.