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Can a business be liable if they over serve someone?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Car Accidents |

If you were involved in a car accident, you are likely infuriated by the other driver’s negligence. If you then find out that they are drunk, that anger likely only increases. But, did you know that in Illinois, when a car accident is caused by a driver who was over-served alcohol, the car accident responsibility may extend to the establishment that provided the alcohol?

Illinois’s dram shop laws

The Dram Shop Act in Illinois is pivotal in determining the liability of businesses serving alcohol. According to this law, businesses can be held responsible if they serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who subsequently causes an accident. This legislation aims to promote responsible serving practices and offer recourse to victims of drunk driving car accidents.

Conditions for business liability

Several criteria must be met for a business to be held liable under the Dram Shop Act. First, the establishment must have sold alcohol to the individual responsible for the accident. Second, the sale of alcohol must have directly contributed to the individual’s intoxication. Finally, the intoxication must significantly contribute to the damages incurred from the accident.

Illinois courts have established legal precedents defining the application of the Dram Shop Act. Factors such as the quantity of alcohol served, patron behavior and staff training are considered. These cases highlight the complexities in proving liability and emphasize the importance of detailed evidence.

Insurance and protection for businesses

Most business insurance policies in Illinois exclude liability coverage for damages arising from serving alcohol. To safeguard against lawsuits, businesses can opt for separate liquor liability insurance, commonly known as dram shop insurance. If the business has this type of insurance, the business may settle your claim without the need for litigation.


Illinois prioritizes addressing the issue of over-serving alcohol, reflecting its seriousness through relevant laws. Businesses are entrusted with the legal and moral obligation to serve alcohol responsibly. Failure to do so, resulting in a car accident, can lead to liability for the business.