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Georgia Supreme Court Rules Store Can Be Held Liable for Wrongful Deaths in Drunk Driving Accident

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a convenience store that sold beer to a motorist, who was later involved in a fatal car accident that killed him and five other people, can be held liable in the auto accident. It’s an important decision, and will give people the right to recover not just from the driver involved in the accident, but also from the parties involved in serving alcohol to the responsible driver.

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling by a lower court, which had held that the convenience store that sold alcohol could not be held liable. The convenience store located in Clinch County, was named in the lawsuit after a motorist purchased a 12-pack of beer at the store just four hours before the accident. The man was later involved in a terrible accident involving a van that was going in the opposite direction. The accident killed him and five other people. His alcohol level at the time was about .181 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit in Georgia.

The families of those killed in the accident had sued the convenience store, but the Georgia Court Of Appeals decided in favor of the store. The court based its opinion on the fact that the beer had not been sold for the purpose of being consumed on the premises. The Supreme Court has now overturned that ruling.

The ruling adds heft to Georgia’s dram shop laws, which allows persons who have been injured in an accident or the families of those killed in an accident caused by drunk drivers, to hold the establishment that served the alcohol liable. Under dram shop liability, any establishment that serves alcohol, including clubs, pubs, bars, taverns and convenience stores, can be held liable for any accident that occurs after the person consumes alcohol in these establishments or purchases alcohol from these establishments.

Georgia’s dram shop laws were mainly designed in order to prevent commercial establishments from selling alcohol to minors or individuals who already seem too intoxicated to drive. Under Georgia’s dram shop liability laws, people who have suffered personal injuries in a drunk driving accident, as well as those who have suffered wrongful death of their family members in such accidents, have an additional source of compensation.

Under the dram shop law, any establishment that serves alcohol like a bar or pub or sells alcohol like a convenience store, must be certain that the person who’s buying the alcohol is not in an intoxicated condition. Failure to do so can place the establishment liable in any car accident that results if the person causes an accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact an injury attorney who can assist you in exploring your rights. These types of claims are complicated and generally should not be pursued without counsel. You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries to recover not just the cost of medical expenses and hospitalization costs, but also your lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering and other damages.