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A police officer and the bar that served her alcohol have agreed to pay $2.25 million to the families of four young people killed last year when the officer slammed into their vehicle while driving the wrong way on a highway. Three of the passengers in the car were graduate students at Eastern Illinois University; the man driving the car was injured but survived.

In Illinois, when a person is injured by a drunk driver, they have the right to pursue a claim against the driver. Families of people killed by drunk drivers can pursue wrongful death lawsuits.

Illinois Dram Shop Act

Victims of drunk drivers can also pursue claims against the establishments that served the driver alcohol. Under the Illinois Dram Shop Act, claims can be successful provided certain conditions are established:

  • There is proof that the establishment sold alcohol to the drunk driver
  • There is proof of injures to the driver's victims
  • There is evidence that the alcohol sale caused the state of intoxication
  • There is evidence that the state of intoxication was a cause of damages to the victims

Thus, under Illinois law, it is not necessary that the seller knew or should have known that the person was intoxicated or even that the person was visibly intoxicated for the establishment to be held responsible for any resulting harm. The seller need only have caused or contributed to the person's intoxication.

If the drunk driver drank alcohol at more than one establishment, it's possible that more than one bar or restaurant might be held liable for damages.

Compensation for Victims of DUI Drivers

Anyone personally injured by an intoxicated person, anyone who sustained property damage due to the acts of the intoxicated person and family members who lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident may be entitled to bring a dram shop claim. The intoxicated person is not permitted to bring a dram shop action nor is anyone dependent on the intoxicated person for support or society.

Under the Illinois Dram Shop Act compensation for bodily injuries, fatalities and property damages are capped. Injured people have one year after the traffic accident that caused the injuries to file a lawsuit.

For many victims of drunk drivers, the Illinois Dram Shop provisions provide a secondary avenue of compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, property damage and loss of companionship of a loved one.

If you have suffered an injury in a car crash caused by a DUI driver, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer with experience handling Dram Shop Act claims. If a member of your family has been killed by a drunk driver, a personal injury attorney can assess your case and help you use the law to be compensated for your loss.

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