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What are Tennessee’s dram shop laws?

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2017 | Drunk Driving Accidents

As frustrating has having to deal with the aftermath of a car accident in Knoxville can be, your ire is likely to increase even more if you find out that yours was caused by a drunk driver. While criminal penalties may await the driver in this scenario, that knowledge may do little to ease the suffering you have been forced to endure from the injuries you sustained along with the expenses you incurred. The cost of such an accident may even necessitate you pursuing compensation. The question is whether the drunk driver involed is the only one who is at fault. 

In many cases, a third party had to provide the alcohol to the driver in order for him or her to become intoxicated. The legal concept of dram shop liability assigns fault to third parties who sell or provide alcohol to people who, after consuming and becoming impaired from it, cause injuries or damages. The term hearkens back to times when taverns sold liquor using a dram as a unit of measurement. Many states do not have dram shop laws on their books; Tennessee, however, does have such a statute.

In Section 57-10-101 of Tennessee’s Annotated Code, the state does recognize the consumption of alcohol rather than the furnishing of it as the proxmite cause of injuries due to intoxication. At the same time, the law goes on to say that there are cases where you can assign vicarious liability to the establishment where the driver that hit you drank. These include if it sold alcohol to the driver knowing he or she was under the age of 21, or if he or she was already visibly intoxicated, yet it continued to sell him or her drinks anyway. 

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