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Motor Vehicle Accidents

How Will Illinois Supreme Court Decide Dram Shop Liability Case?

October 11, 2013

Alcohol-related accidents take the lives of tens of thousands of people each year, and injure hundreds of thousands more. When someone is injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, the intoxicated driver is often liable for the injuries and deaths and, in some cases, the vendor who served the drunk driver alcohol may also be liable under dram shop liability laws.

Under Illinois law, commercial establishments are liable for any damages or injuries caused by an intoxicated person if the plaintiff proves the following:

  1. The vendor sold alcohol to the patron;
  2. Injuries or damages were sustained by the plaintiff;
  3. Through the sale of alcohol to the intoxicated person, the vendor was the proximate cause of the intoxication; and
  4. The intoxication was at least one major cause in the plaintiff’s injury.

The Illinois dram shop law places certain statutory limits on the amount that a vendor can be liable, and the Illinois Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of Rogers v. Imeri regarding those limits. After the plaintiffs’ son was killed by a drunk driver, the plaintiffs sued the bar that had allegedly served the driver under Illinois’s dram shop law. Plaintiffs were awarded $26,550 from the driver’s liability insurance policy and an additional $80,000 from their own policy, but while the matter was still pending, the defendant’s dram shop liability insurer was declared insolvent and liquidated, with the Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund taking over defense of the litigation.

After the Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund took over, they filed a motion for summary adjudication of liability arguing that the maximum liability under Illinois dram shop laws was $130,338.51 and the plaintiffs had already received $106,550. Accordingly, the defendant argues that it should be able to offset insurance payments from other sources.

The question before the Supreme Court hinges on the following: if a jury returns a verdict in excess of the statutory maximum, is the setoff for other recoveries made from the verdict, or from the statutory maximum recovery under Illinois dram shop laws?

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the case in the few months.

At Cogan & Power, P.C., our dedicated Chicago alcohol-related accident lawyers fight for victims’ right to obtain maximum recovery possible for all sources. Limitations on vendor liability for alcohol-related accidents are problematic for a number of reasons, most notably because they deny accident and injury victims their right to full and fair financial recovery and they fail to hold negligent vendors responsible for their actions.

If you were injured or a loved one died in an alcohol-related accident, our Chicago alcohol-related accident attorneys stand ready to fight for your rights to obtain maximum financial recovery. Contact the dedicated Chicago alcohol-related auto accident attorneys at Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights following a alcohol-related auto accident.

If you have been injured in a personal injury or medical malpractice accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago accident and injury law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free case consultation, so that we can help you begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.