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Maryland Court of Appeals considers dram shop laws

Drunk drivers cause horrible accidents every day in the United States. The unfortunate victims of these car accidents typically incur medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement costs, and time lost at work, among other expenses. In order to recover these sums, the injured parties can file a lawsuit against the drunk driver. Moreover, in forty-two states across America, the bar or restaurant that improperly served too much alcohol to the driver can also be held responsible for payment of the victim’s damages. To date, Maryland remains one of the minority states that has not adopted this type of “dram shop” rule. A recent lawsuit argued before the Maryland Court of Appeals could change the current law.

The Maryland case that is currently under consideration was filed by the family of a 10-year old girl who was killed in a drunk driving accident in 2008. The child received fatal injuries after her family’s car was hit by a driver who had been accelerating up to 100 mph. An investigation revealed that prior to getting behind the wheel, the driver may have consumed 3 shots of alcohol, together with 17 beers; this was the amount of the tab he paid at a dining establishment.

The lawsuit is the attempt by the girl’s family to recover damages from the restaurant that served the drunk driver. If the court agrees with the girl’s family, bartenders and waitstaff will have to be educated to recognize the signs of intoxication and stand firm in refusing to serve a drunk patron. Moreover, drunk driving victims may have additional resources from which to recoup their damages. Individuals who have been harmed by a drunk driver should consider contacting a legal professional who can provide information about the rights and remedies available.

Source: The Dispatch, “Court Hears Dram Shop Appeal; Third-Party Liability Case Heard,” Shawn J. Soper, March 15, 2013