drunk driving accident

While it may seem obvious that the person who got behind the wheel while intoxicated is responsible (and therefore liable) for a drunk driving accident, the answer is actually much more complicated.

If you get into an accident with someone who you suspect had been drinking, it is vitally important that you contact an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer. Time is of the essence while gathering crucial information that can help your case!

A drunk driving accident lawyer can review the details of your accident and resulting damages to identify all liable parties. This may include a bar, restaurant or convenience store that the driver recently visited. It may include the host of a party that the driver went to. These other parties may be held partially responsible for a drunk driving accident due to a set of Ohio laws known as ‘Dram Shop Laws’.

Ohio is one of several states that allow civil injury lawsuits to be filed against businesses or social hosts who serve alcohol to someone who goes on to cause an alcohol-related accident. But like many states, Ohio limits the circumstances under which these kinds of claims can be filed.

Bartenders and servers have a responsibility to monitor the drunkenness of patrons who consume alcohol at their establishments. If a bartender, server or host over-serves an already intoxicated person, they may be held partially liable for any damage or injury caused by that person.

This typically means that an establishment that serves alcohol may be found at least partially liable for an alcohol-related ‘drunk driving’ accident. This can, however, also include ANY criminal injury caused by an over-served person, including sexual assault, assault, battery, intimidation, etc.

There are several conditions that must be met for the alcohol license-holder to be held partially liable:

  • The injury occurred on the liquor license holder’s property/premises AND
  • The injuries were caused at least in part by the liquor license holder or their employee (ie. over-serving an obviously intoxicated person, contrary to State liquor laws)


  • The injury or death was caused by an intoxicated person’s intentional malice or negligence
  • The injury or death happened off the liquor license holder’s premises AND
  • The liquor license holder knowingly sold an alcoholic beverage to a visibly intoxicated person or someone who is underage.

A social host (someone who does not charge money for alcoholic beverages or admission) can also be found liable for a drunk driving accident if they provided alcohol to someone who is underage, and that person then goes on to injure someone else.

Understanding whether or not your personal injury case fits these conditions can be confusing. This is why you should ALWAYS consult with an experienced drunk driving accident attorney.

If you were injured or a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, contact the compassionate, aggressive drunk driving accident lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman. Our consultation is free and there is no obligation to hire us. You won’t pay us a penny unless we win your case. Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule your free consultation.