Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits in Missouri - Making a Negligence Claim Against the Bar that Over-Served the Missouri Drunk Driver

Under Missouri dram shop statute, the victims of Missouri personal injury or the family of the Missouri wrongful death victim caused by an intoxicated or drunk driver may have a cause of action against the establishment that served the Missouri drunk driver that caused a car crash or hits a pedestrian.

Missouri Statute § 537.053, Sale of alcoholic beverage may be proximate cause of personal injuries or death… a cause of action may be brought by or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a person under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated person.

How do you prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that the bartender knew or should have known the drunk driver was “visibly intoxicated”?

However, in a Missouri dram shop lawsuit, proving “visible intoxication” is more difficult than simply showing the driver was legally intoxicated. For example, under the above dram shop statute, Missouri Statute § 537.503, blood alcohol content is simple relevant to proving a person was visibly intoxicated, but does not prove it. So what else, clearly a St. Louis DWI personal injury lawyer would hire a toxicologist to testify, but what about testimony from someone else at the bar that served the at fault driver? the bartender? they obviously are not going to admit they served a visibly intoxicated, so you are left with tracking down other patrons at the bar, which is hard enough, much less finding one that remembers the drunk driver who caused a car accident and that they were visibly intoxicated.

So is an eye witness required? Recently a Missouri trial court ruled through summary judgment that eye witness testimony is required to prove that the Missouri drunk driver who caused a car accident was visibly intoxicated at a bar in order to be able to hold that establishment liable under Missouri’s dram shop law. This issue is currently up on appeal and for an excellent analysis of the Missouri dram shop law and its application see: Amicus Brief – Missouri Dram Shop Law Appeal regarding Proof of Visible Intoxication.

Injured by a drunk driver in St. Louis Missouri? Drunk driver accident injury attorney Ben Sansone is available for free consultations and has millions of dollars of judgments and settlements from suing drunk drivers in Missouri and Illinois.