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Dram Shop Claims

At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we know all too well that injuries and deaths caused by alcohol are a common phenomenon in Colorado. It is interesting to note, however, that in addition to each of us having an individual duty to drink alcohol responsibly, liquor-license establishments that serve alcohol (usually bars, restaurants, and clubs) also have a responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed and you suspect that the person who did it was intoxicated by alcohol, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced Boulder personal injury attorney such as the lawyers at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC.

The Duty of Every Holder of a Liquor License to Serve Alcohol Responsibly

Colorado’s alcohol responsibility laws, often referred to as Dram Shop laws, require that a bar, restaurant, or club that irresponsibly serves alcohol can be liable for an injury or death caused by an intoxicated patron. Generally speaking, this means that a bar, restaurant, or club must not knowingly serve alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated or under the age of 21. To illustrate, if a bar knowingly serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and that person later gets behind the wheel and kills another person, the bar can be held liable in addition to the drunk driver. The same principle applies if a bar serves a visibly intoxicated person who then assaults and injures another person. An experienced Boulder personal injury attorney therefore understands that it is critical to determine whether alcohol was involved in a crash or an assault, and if so, whether the offender was served at a bar, restaurant, or club. Quite simply, if a liquor-licensee served a visibly intoxicated patron, it is another party in addition to the drunk-driver or assailant who can be held accountable for its actions.

Important Considerations with Dram Shop Claims

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by someone who you suspect was intoxicated by alcohol, it is extremely important that you act quickly. An experienced Boulder personal injury attorney understands that the Statute of Limitations for filing a Dram Shop claim in Colorado is one year. This generally means that within one year of a drunk-driving accident or intoxicated assault, for example, a victim must either settle his or her claim or file a lawsuit against the bar, restaurant, or club (or other entity with a liquor license) within one year of the injury or death. Because time is of the essence when a potential Dram Shop claim exists, the victim or the family must move quickly to try to identify the establishment where the drunk-driver or assailant was drinking. Often times a knowledgeable Boulder personal injury lawyer such as those at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC will have resources available, such as hiring an experienced investigator, to help identify the businesses that might have knowingly served alcohol to the visibly intoxicated defendant.

Proving that a Person was Visibly Intoxicated

One of the common defenses from liquor license-holders who are accused of violating Colorado’s Dram Shop law is that the defendant was not visibly intoxicated, or that the establishment did not know the defendant was visibly intoxicated. When this happens, an experienced Boulder personal injury lawyer knows that common-sense signs of intoxication can be used to prove this element of the claim. For example, was the defendant slurring his or her speech at the bar, having trouble keeping his or her balance, or acting belligerently? If necessary, the experienced attorneys at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC can hire an expert, such as a former DUI patrol officer, to help a jury understand what signs show intoxication. Additionally, besides relying on receipts and witness statements to prove knowledge of visible intoxication, an experienced Boulder personal injury attorney may hire experts who can explain the monitoring and training standards that liquor licensees implement to track the amount of alcohol a patron has consumed.

Maximum Recovery Against a Liquor License-holder in Colorado

Unfortunately, regardless of how badly someone was injured by an intoxicated person, or even if someone was killed, Colorado’s General Assembly has capped the recovery against a Colorado liquor license-holder at $280,810.00 (C.R.S. § 12-47-801). For more information on Colorado’s caps on damages, please click here.

If you or a loved one have been injured, assaulted, or killed and you suspect that the person who did it was intoxicated, we encourage you to reach out to one of the experienced attorneys at Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation about your case and how we might be able to help you.

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