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Does Louisiana have any dram shop laws on its books?

Say that while driving your car in or around Lake Charles, you are struck by another driver who later was found to be intoxicated. He or she claims to have been at a bar who served him or her enough drinks to logically assume that he or she was too intoxicated to drive. On top of seeking compensation from the driver and his or her insurance company, can you also go after the establishment whose service contributed to getting him or her drunk for negligence?

The legal doctrine of dram shop laws places vicarious liability on establishments for their part in contributing to the negligent actions of their patrons. This doctrine draws it roots from old English taverns that sold their gin by the dram. Many states have enacted dram shop laws that would allow you to sue the bar mentioned in the opening example that served the driver that struck you (in most cases, you would have to prove that it’s employees knew the driver was drunk and still continued to serve him or her, or that they knowingly served alcohol to a minor). Yet Louisiana does not have such a law on its books. In fact, Louisiana statutes clearly state that it views the action of drinking to intoxication as being negligent, not the sale or serving of the drinks that help one reach such a state.

That is not to say, however, that the state does not assign any sort of third party liability in drunk driving accidents. One who forces another to consume alcohol or lies to another about the alcoholic content of a drink can held liable for the actions of those affected by his or her deception. However, such cases would more likely fall under the guidelines imposed by social host liability laws. 

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Lundy Lundy Soileau & South, LLP

Main Office: 501 Broad Street Lake Charles, LA 70601 | Phone: 337-439-0707

Mailing Address: PO Box 3010 Lake Charles, LA 70602 | Fax: 337.439.1029