Tennessee's Dram Shop Law, delineated within section 57-10-102 of the Tennessee Code, outlines specific conditions under which an individual harmed by an intoxicated person can seek compensation from the establishment that served the alcohol. The provisions of this law are notably circumscribed.
Dramshop Liability Law Tennessee
In Tennessee, a Dram Shop claim may typically be initiated against an alcohol vendor when:
- The vendor dispensed alcohol to a person recognized as either underage (below 21 years of age) or someone who exhibited clear signs of inebriation.
- The consumption of alcohol directly resulted in the injury sustained.
It is paramount to recognize that establishing Dram Shop liability in Tennessee necessitates a stringent burden of proof. A jury comprising twelve individuals must render a verdict "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the sale of alcohol was a "proximate cause" of the injuries. This elevated threshold of proof surpasses the standards in most other states, where Dram Shop liability can be established by demonstrating "a preponderance of the evidence." Consequently, asserting a Dram Shop claim in Tennessee can be an onerous endeavor for the plaintiff.
Here's an illustrative scenario where Tennessee's dram shop law may come into play: Let's consider the case of Brad, who visits Tray's Tavern for some libations. Over the course of his visit, the bartender observes that Brad's behavior undergoes a conspicuous transformation. He becomes disoriented, his speech becomes slurred, and he struggles to maintain his balance. Nevertheless, the bartender continues to serve Brad alcoholic beverages. Eventually, while attempting to navigate to the tavern's restroom, Brad stumbles and collides with Patricia, causing her to tumble from her barstool and suffer injuries.
In response to this incident, Patricia has the option to initiate a personal injury claim against Brad, who was responsible for the accident. Furthermore, she has the legal recourse to file a dram shop claim against Tray's Tavern for selling alcohol to Ron, who was unmistakably intoxicated and whose inebriation led to his fall.
Regarding Social Host Civil Liability in Tennessee
Civil's important to note that Tennessee's dram shop law doesn't extend to social hosts. Nonetheless, Tennessee courts have ruled that an injured party can pursue a negligence claim against a social host who provided alcohol to an underage guest, resulting in injury due to intoxication.
Furthermore, adults who furnish alcohol to underage individuals can face criminal charges in such instances.
When it comes to damages and time limits in alcohol-related accident claims in Tennessee, it's essential to understand that a dram shop claim is a civil case, primarily seeking financial compensation. Common types of damages pursued in Tennessee dram shop claims encompass:
- Lost wages.
- The value of household services the injured party would have performed had they not been injured.
- Medical expenses.
- Costs associated with lost, damaged, or destroyed property.
- Pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff in connection with the accident and resulting injuries.
Just like other personal injury claims in Tennessee, a dram shop claim must be filed before the expiration of the time limit set by the state's "statute of limitations." To safeguard your right to pursue legal action and prevent it from being forfeited due to any delay, it is crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following your injury.