While dram shop laws can often impose potential liability on businesses selling alcohol to patrons who later cause injuries, Louisiana has dram shop laws that are much more limited than other states. If you need help identifying potentially liable parties for your drunk driving accident in Louisiana, you will want to speak with a New Orleans drunk driving accident lawyer.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes that 30 states have statutory provisions allowing certain licensed establishments to be liable for selling or serving alcohol to people who cause injuries or death as a result of intoxication, but 22 of the 30 states statutorily limit the liability to cases where an establishment sold or served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual or a person under the legal drinking age. The NCLS also points out that statutes in Louisiana exempt licensed establishments from liability except in the cases where they serve a person under the legal drinking age.
Louisiana Dram Shop Laws
Louisiana Revised Statute § 2800.1 is the state law governing dram shop claims, and Louisiana Revised Statute § 2800.1.B states that no party selling or serving intoxicating beverages to a person over the age for the lawful purchase can be liable for any injury suffered off the premises because of the intoxication of a person to whom the intoxicating beverages were sold or served. Under Louisiana Revised Statute § 2800.1.C, social hosts serving alcohol are also immune to liability.
Louisiana Revised Statute § 2800.1.E does provide one important exception: The limitation of liability does not apply to any person causing or contributing to consumption of alcoholic beverages by force or by falsely representing that beverages are non-alcoholic. In these types of cases, then a merchant or social host may be liable.
Another possible exception could be for cases in which establishments sell alcohol to minors under 21 years of age. Pence v. Ketchum, 326 So.2d 831 (La.1976) was a Supreme Court of Louisiana decision that held that an alcoholic beverage retailer’s sale of alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person in violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 26:88(2) gave rise to a cause of action by the patron who suffers injuries as a result of the intoxication.
In that case, the plaintiff was a patron of a bar who brought his action against the owners of the bar and another party to recover damages for injuries he suffered when she was struck by an automobile after being ejected from the bar in an intoxicated condition. His action was based upon Articles 2315 and 2316 of the Louisiana Civil Code.
The district court dismissed the lawsuit on an exception of no cause of action filed by the owners of the bar, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the district court by relying upon the Supreme Court of Louisiana’s holding in Lee v. Peerless Insurance Company, 248 La. 982, 183 So.2d 328 (1966). The Supreme Court of Louisiana noted that its decision in Lee was “widely criticized as unsound,” and most of the recent decisions have rejected the no-proximate-cause rubric, leading to it overruling Lee, reversing the Court of Appeals, overruling the peremptory exception of no cause of action, and remanding the case to the district court.
While Louisiana state law is generally unfavorable for dram shop claims, you should still discuss your case with an attorney to see if certain exceptions may exist in your case that can allow you to hold a third party liable. Only three years after its decision in Pence, the Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled in Thrasher v. Leggett, 373 So.2d 494 (La.1979), a case in which an intoxicated plaintiff suffered injuries in a fall when a bar bouncer attempted to eject him, that the plaintiff’s injury was not caused by a breach of duty by the bar owner or bouncer but rather by the plaintiff’s own unruly behavior.
Call Us Today to Speak with a New Orleans Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you sustain serious injuries or your loved one dies in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you will want to be sure you know every single party who may be accountable. Egenberg Trial Lawyers has decades of experience handling these types of cases and will be able to assist you in recovering as much compensation as possible.
Our firm will quickly conduct our own independent investigation into your crash and then be able to determine every single party you could be able to hold responsible, negotiating for a fair and full settlement to your case. You may call (504) 229-3117 or contact us online to receive a free consultation with our New Orleans drunk driving accident lawyer.