What is the Illinois Dram Shop Act?

If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident in Illinois, the Illinois Dram Job Act may allow you to take legal action again the follow parties:

• The intoxicated motorist;
• The person/business who sold the alcohol to the intoxicated person; and
• The owner of the property where the person became drunk (if the business sells liquor for a profit).

The Illinois Dram Shop Act is also called the Illinois Liquor Control Act, which basically reprimands any primary party (the intoxicated person) and secondary party (business) if they illegally contributed to the intoxication of the drunk driver. However, you are required to file an Illinois Dram Shop claim within a year of the date of the accident, for your claim to be considered.

There are also statutory limitations on the amount of money an injured individual can receive, which are determined annually by the Comptroller. Throughout the years, the amount of liability limit for actions The Illinois Dram Shop Act has been rising steadily. In 2009 the Dram Shop liability limit for actions that resulted in personal injury, death, or property damage was almost $60,000 for each person.

Additionally, families who have claims regarding any loss of financial support or loss of society due to the death of a family member were able to recover up to $72,000 in 2009.

Dram Shop

Illinois provides a remedy against owners of businesses that sell liquor which causes intoxication. The Dram Shop Act provides that every person who is injured by any intoxicated person as a result of his intoxication has a claim against any person who sells or gives alcoholic liquor thereby causing the intoxication of the intoxicated person. Liability extends to lessors or owners of the business selling liquor but does not extend to private persons providing alcohol.

In order to succeed in a Dram Shop action against an intoxicated driver, the plaintiff must prove the following:

• The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the collision.
• The defendant, his agents or employees sold or gave intoxicating liquor consumed by the intoxicated person.
• The liquor caused the intoxication of the intoxicated person.
• The defendant’s intoxication was at least one cause of the occurrence in question.
• As a result of the occurrence, the plaintiff suffered injury or damage to his property.

A person is “intoxicated” when as a result of drinking alcoholic liquor there is an impairment of his mental or physical faculties so as to diminish his ability to think and act.

• “Alcoholic liquor” includes any liquid or solid containing alcohol such as wine, beer, brandy, rum, whiskey, or gin.
• “Alcoholic liquor” does not mean or include any solid or liquid which contains ½ of 1% or less by volume.

Several defenses are available to a defendant in a case brought under the Dram Shop Act. If a jury finds that a plaintiff did any of the following, then the plaintiff cannot recover damages under the Dram Shop Act:

• Willingly caused the intoxication of the intoxicated defendant.
• Willingly encouraged the drinking which caused the intoxication of the intoxicated defendant.
• Voluntarily participated to a material and substantial extent in the drinking which lead to the intoxication of the intoxicated defendant.
• Actively contributed to or procured the intoxication of the intoxicated defendant.
• Provoked the conduct of the intoxicated defendant which caused the injury.

Although the Dram Shop Act provides a cause of action against liquor licensees who distribute alcohol, the damages which can be collected are limited by statute.

• The Illinois legislature established that recovery for injury to person or property cannot exceed $45,000.
• A limit of $55,000 for either loss of support or loss of society resulting from death or injury was also provided.
• On January 20 of each year the liability limits are automatically increased or decreased by a percentage equal to the percentage change price index during the preceding 12 month calendar year.
• The limits of recovery under the Dram Shop Act therefore vary from year to year.

In addition to an action under the Dram Shop Act, an injured person also has the right to pursue a claim against the driver for his negligence. Illinois does not cap the damages that may be recovered in that regard.

To get more information about recovering your damages under the Dram Shop Act in the State of Illinois, call the Giacoletto Law Firm at 618-346-8841 or toll free at 888-346-8841 to speak today with an experienced Illinois attorney centrally located in Collinsville.


Steve Giacoletto
Collinsville Personal Injury Attorney
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