Written by attorney Edward Joel Lake

Dram Shop Act: Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

According to the Dram Shop Act, a number of parties can play a part in a driver’s intoxication and subsequent accident, including the bar or establishment that served him or her alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people died in 2010 because of a drunk driving accident. While the intoxicated drivers are the most obvious responsible parties involved in the wrecks, they’re not the only ones to blame. Other responsible parties may owe the victim’s surviving family members compensation.

New York’s Dram Shop Act

Under section 11-101 of New York’s General Obligations Law, also known as the state’s dram shop act, there are certain circumstances in which a business may hold liability if a third party is injured or killed by an intoxicated patron. Serving alcohol laws include not just car accidents, but also bar fights and other incidents.

According to the serving alcohol laws, the business establishment could be held responsible for a third party injury or death if:

  • the individual who injured or killed the victim was intoxicated at the time of the accident;
  • the business sold, gave or otherwise provided alcohol to the individual;
  • the individual was visibly intoxicated when the alcohol was sold or given to them; and
  • the business contributed or caused the individual’s drunkenness.

If all these items can be proven, an establishment may be held liable for a victim’s death. Damages and compensation would be owed to the victim’s survivors and family.

How to Proceed Using the Dram Shop Act

Survivors of victims wrongfully killed by a drunk driver or individual should contact a Long Island, New York wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can ensure there is enough evidence to prove an establishment’s fault in the death, and line up evidence to prove it.

To do this, an attorney may use witness testimony, often from other patrons of the bar or establishment, to show that the defendant was, indeed, intoxicated at the time they were served alcohol. They also may enlist the help of a forensic toxicologist, who can attest to the level of alcohol in the defendant’s system at the time of the accident.

If the attorney finds that there is enough evidence to prove dram shop liability, they will help the victim file a wrongful death claim against the establishment. In New York, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is just two years, meaning the claim must be filed within two years of the victim’s death. An attorney will help ensure all paperwork is filed so that this deadline is met.

Other Notes

In addition to the establishment that sold the alcohol, there could be a number of other parties who also share the blame for the victim’s death, including the defendant’s employer, a social host, a passenger and more. An attorney can help evaluate the case, pinpoint liable parties, and ultimately determine the amount of compensation survivors may be due.

All in all, survivors could be due compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost income, lost benefits, pain and suffering, lost companionship and more. If a loved one was injured or killed by a drunk driver or individual in Long Island, call 800-246-HURT (4878) to speak to a Long Island, New York wrongful death attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates today. There could be grounds for a claim and due compensation on behalf of the victim because of the Dram Shop Act.

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