Under dram shop liability laws, a party injured by an intoxicated person can sue establishments contributing to that person’s intoxication. The term "dram shop" was derived from 18th century English taverns that sold gin by the spoonful, called a dram. Dram shop laws are established by each state.
Dram shop laws can apply to:
- liquor stores
- social clubs and private events where liquor is served
The laws also include prohibitions against selling liquor without a license, selling liquor after hours, and selling liquor to minors. For example, if a person has several alcoholic drinks at a restaurant or bar and is visibly intoxicated, and then gets in a car and kills someone on the way home, the owner of the serving establishment can be sued for damages. A dram shop case is often a component of a larger accident case such as a DWI. The statute of limitations on the dram shop portion of the case differs from those that apply to the other claims made in the case.