Drunk driving liability and Tennessee dram shop laws


Despite the dangers of drunk driving, some Tennessee residents continue to ignore the risks. They get behind the wheel of their cars and drive after having too much to drink. This type of negligent behavior can wreak havoc on others on the roadway. Drunk drivers are likely to cause serious drunk driving accidents as they struggle to keep their cars under control. When this happens, victims can suffer serious injuries or even death. The financial and emotional repercussions of drunk driving accidents may leave accident victims searching for legal recourse.

In these situations, the drunk driver can often be held liable for any damages done in the accident. However, the driver may not be the only negligent party. Under so called dram shop laws, people who sell alcohol can also be held liable for damages done by intoxicated individuals. Under Tennessee Code section 57-10-102, the person or entity that sells alcohol can be held liable in two situations.

First, if the intoxicated individual was under 21-years-old and the person selling the alcohol knew the person's age. The seller can be held liable for any injuries caused to another person by the underage drinker. The injuries, however, have to be caused by the person's consumption of alcohol. Second, the seller can be held liable if the person sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual and if this consumption was the direct cause of an injury or death to another person.

These rules contain additional legal complexities. It can sometimes be difficult for drunk driving accident victims and their families to understand these rules without the right legal help. A Tennessee attorney can help to explain a victim's or family's rights following an accident caused by a drunk driver. With their help, these victims can get the compensation they need to heal.

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