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Are California bars ever responsible for drunk driving crashes?

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Although you expect insurance to take care of you when you aren’t to blame for a crash, that isn’t always a realistic expectation. The way that liability car insurance works can be unfair to those hurt in collisions.

California has low insurance requirements, which means that catastrophic injuries and fatalities may have costs that far exceed what insurance will pay. People who are irresponsible enough to drive after drinking may also be the kind of people to carry very low levels of insurance or to allow their policies to lapse due to non-payment.

Those injured by drunk drivers or adjusting to life after the loss of a loved one in a crash may want to look into all of their options for financial compensation. Is it ever possible to hold a bar or restaurant accountable for a drunk driver who got drunk at that specific business?

California does not have a dram shop liability law

Many states have specific legal code that imposes liability on businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. If their staff members violate liquor laws, then the business may have financial culpability if a patron goes on to cause a crash after leaving. Such claims are incredibly rare in California because no such law exists.

In fact, state law specifically protects businesses that serve alcohol from liability in most cases. However, there is one specific scenario in which those affected by a drunk driving crash could hold a business accountable. If wait staff serve alcohol to a minor who is already visibly intoxicated, then the business may have liability if that impaired minor goes on to cause a car crash.

What other options may you have?

Although you may not be able to hold a business responsible for overserving an adult like you could in other states, you can potentially still pursue compensation from the actual drunk driver. Their wrongful behavior opens them up to liability in the civil courts. Regardless of whether or not the state successfully prosecutes them, you can potentially make a civil claim for all the losses you incurred that insurance didn’t cover.

Learning more about the California laws that apply after drunk driving crashes can help you determine the best way to pursue compensation.