Oregon dram shop laws place liability for drunk drivers’ actions on taverns, bars, restaurants, or even social hosts serving alcohol
Under Oregon law (ORS 471.565), it is illegal to sell alcohol to people who appear intoxicated or to minors. A dram shop is any business that serves alcoholic beverages by the dram or sells "shots" of alcohol. If the establishment violated this law, they can be held responsible for any damage caused by the drunk driver.
It is natural to hold a drunk driver accountable when a pedestrian, cyclist, or another driver is injured in an Oregon traffic accident caused by a drunk driver. However, the best Oregon dram shop attorneys will investigate further, and will look for alternate sources of liability for their injured clients. Under circumstances governed by Oregon dram shop laws, injured parties can also hold the establishment that sold the alcohol liable for the injuries caused by the drunk driver.
What is an Oregon “dram shop” anyway?
The word “dram” is a Scottish term for a small drink of whisky or other alcohol, typically what Americans refer to as a “shot.” Technically, a dram is a is a unit of volume, where a “fluid dram” refers to the amount of fluid equalling 1/8 of an oz. Enough science, what is an Oregon dram shop?
Dram shops are bars, taverns, or other establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. These establishments have a long history of serving spirits by small units of liquid, or drams. In the United States, these businesses are subject to dram shop liability, a body of law that governs their liability for injuries caused by their patrons.
What is a dram shop law?
Commonly known as dram shop laws or dram shop acts, these laws hold businesses that sell alcohol responsible for the actions of their patrons that result in harm to others. This includes not only bars, but also restaurants, taverns, or any establishment that serves alcohol. This legal framework aims to deter establishments from over-serving patrons and provides a means of recourse for those injured by drunk drivers or other intoxicated individuals.
Experienced Oregon dram shop lawyers can investigate a drunk driving injury and file a lawsuit on behalf of injured clients to liable if a vendor or seller of alcohol served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person, and the customer's intoxication was the "proximate" cause of an injury or property damage.
The law can be tricky, however, since it is a valid defense if the premises shows a good faith effort to prevent the customer from consuming alcohol once the vendor realized they were intoxicated. (ORS 471.412(2)) Investigation is key for a successful case.
Acting quickly is key in an Oregon dram shop case
Normally an injured party has two years to bring a lawsuit for negligence in Oregon. However, Oregon’s dram shop laws require that a “Dram Shop Notice" must be provided to the liquor-serving establishment within 180 days of the injury under Oregon law at ORS 471.565.
Formal notice of a claim must be in writing, must be mailed to the tavern, permittee, or social host, or personally served on the tavern, permittee or social host, and must contain specific information governed by Oregon law. An Oregon dram shop lawyer experienced with these types of cases will investigate your case quickly to preserve your rights to recover.
Successful recovery under Oregon dram shop laws requires investigation, experience, and diligence.
If successful, the premises or vendor will have to pay compensation to cover the injured party's medical costs for property damaged by the drunk driver. However, because of time limitations and the types of evidence required to successfully recover, investigations are key. If you are injured in an Oregon drunk driving accident, you should not try to figure this out on your own. Get the help of an experienced Portland, Oregon drunk driving accident lawyer with the knowledge to help you recover under Oregon’s dram shop laws.