Schedule Your Free
(916) 778-3228

Can You Sue an Alcohol Vendor for a Drunk Driving Accident in California?

In many states, if someone is injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, not only can they file a claim against the liable driver, but they can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the vendor or social host who provided the alcohol to the intoxicated motorist.  

When the defendant is an alcohol vendor, this type of case is covered by “dram shop” laws. On the other hand, when the defendant is a party or social host, the case falls under “social host liability” laws. 

However, California law substantially restricts the ability of injured parties to sue a third party in a drunk driving accident. According to Civil Code section 1714, the law states that giving someone alcohol is not necessarily the cause of injury due to intoxication, but rather, consuming the alcohol is. 

But there are two exceptions to California’s dram shop and social host liability laws: 

  • If a parent, guardian, or a supervising adult at his/her residence knowingly provides a person under 21 years old with alcohol and the host knows or should’ve known the individual is underage. 

  • If a vendor licensed to serve, sell, or otherwise provide alcohol gives alcohol to a minor who is “obviously intoxicated.” 

As you can see, each of these exceptions involves providing alcohol to underage individuals. The vendor or host’s liability for damages extends to any person who is injured by an underage drinker. 

The following are the common damages an injured party may seek from a dram shop or social host liability claim: 

  • Past and future medical expenses 

  • Lost income 

  • Property damage 

  • Pain and suffering 

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Sacramento, call Eliot Reiner, APLC at (916) 778-3228 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation. With more than 30 years of trial-tested experience, our firm has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients! 

Related Posts
  • Why You Shouldn't Apologize After an Accident Read More
  • Paralysis After a Car Accident Read More
  • Blindness, Vision Loss, & Eye Injuries Caused by Car Accidents Read More