Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...

We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay?  How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc.  So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them.  We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.

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  • What are the available damages in dram shop claim?

    The damages that one would obtain in an Iowa personal injury claim are the same as the damages in dramshop claim; they are as follows.

    • Payment of all medical bills associated with the accident: including any prescribed physical or occupational rehabilitation
    • Pain and suffering: includes physical and emotional suffering if the victim experiences post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or the emotional trauma of permanent loss of a limb and severe disfigurement
    • Lost income: either job-related wages or monies earned if the victim is self-employed a business owner. Any work-related benefits such as paid employee medical, insurance, or retirement contributions may also be collected.
    • Damaged property repair or replacement: the victim’s vehicle and any items in it at the time of the accident
    • Wrongful death: commonly demanded by family survivors. This can include all medical and funeral expenses, lost future income that would have been earned by the deceased, loss of consortium, and other incurred expenses that can be attributed to the untimely death of the beloved family member.
    • Punitive damages: commonly awarded by a judge or jury in addition to the actual (requested) damages if the defendant showed a willful disregard for the victim’s safety.

    Basics of Dramshop Law

    A dramshop claim is one levied against a person or business that has a liquor license, for serving too much alcohol to an individual that later causes the intoxicated person to get into a car accident (most often) resulting in injury or death to another. Specific legal requirements regarding claims are involved, and there are several liability variables; all of which are outlined in Iowa Code § 123.92, and subsequent rulings of law.

    Though Iowa has a Dramshop Law, other states – such as Nebraska – do not.  In Iowa, there are relatively brief and precise time limits for providing written notice to the bar or liquor license holder of an injured victim’s intent to file a claim or lawsuit for damages; and the injured victim bears the burden of proof for the dramshop claim (or the survivors of a wrongfully deceased victim).

    If someone is hit by an Intoxicated driver then does he or she sue only the bar?

    Not at all. Injured victims also have a strong civil case against the drunk driver. What likely happens is the victim sues both defendants and each pays a percentage of the victim’s reasonable damage total; any punitive damages notwithstanding.

    What is the amount of time a drunk driving accident victim can file a dramshop law claim?

    The notice of intent to file a claim against the establishment’s licensee (usually the owner) or permittee (bartender or wait person) is short: six months after the accident, and the information in the notice must be very precise, suggesting the need for an experienced dramshop law attorney’s assistance. The statute of limitations to file the injury claim is two years from the date of the accident.

    Walker, Billingsley & Bair are here to take care of the exhaustive legal paperwork that accompanies filing claims against two parties, one being a company. Contact us using the online form or call us to discuss your situation further: (641) 792-2335.

  • What has to be proven in an Iowa dramshop claim?

    There are two typical ways to prove an Iowa dramshop claim. A person is served too much alcohol at a bar or restaurant, leaves the establishment while drunk, is involved in a car accident, and is subsequently charged with OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated).

    The other occurs when a drunk bar patron assaults one or more people at the bar. Iowa’s Dramshop Law holds the bar owner, liquor licensee, or permittee (bartender or wait person) who does either of the following;

    • Sells and serves alcohol to an intoxicated person when the they knew (or should have “reasonably” known) the person was intoxicated
    • Sells and serves the person to a point where owner, bartender, wait staff knew or should have reasonably known the person would become drunk if they did not stop serving the patron.

    Bars and other establishments licensed to serve liquor are legally required to exercise reasonable care to detect signs of actual (or suspected) intoxication in their patrons. If their employees identify someone who’s had too much to drink, they cannot serve them any more alcohol: [Iowa Code § 123.92].

    This is known as a Dramshop Law, and many states have adopted them. Virtually all of these establishments are also required by law to have dramshop liability insurance to pay the damages to the injured victims of their intoxicated patrons.

    “Iowa’s Dramshop Statute is intended to restrain bars and restaurants from selling ‘excess liquor’ to their patrons;” according to The Iowa Supreme Court. Several cases before it have produced rulings that the state’s dramshop law does not require that the plaintiff prove that the intoxicated person who injured them consumed the alcohol.

    The Act’s language says that alcoholic beverages that are, "sold and served for consumption on the seller's premises only,” apply. This means that retail companies such as grocery stores and other liquor licensees which sell packaged liquor – rather than “liquor by the drink” – are not subject to the law because they are not licensed to serve alcohol at their business; only sell alcohol which is consumed at another location.

    All civil damages are available in a dramshop case.

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Damaged property
    • Pain and suffering
    • Wrongful death

    Can a person who was made intoxicated sue the bar owner in an Iowa dramshop case?

    Only those who were injured by the intoxicated patron (referred to as the “second party”) can sue the bar or restaurant establishment. First parties (the intoxicated person) may not.

    Are private citizens who host a party liable under Iowa’s dramshop laws?

    The law applies only to vendors who are licensed to sell alcohol in restaurants and bars. It does not apply to “social hosts” who serve alcohol at parties or other private functions: [Iowa Code § 123.49].

    Contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair to get more information on filing a dramshop claim in Iowa at (515) 440-2852. 

  • How do You Prove that the Bar Tender Knew or Should Have Known the Person was Intoxicated or Would Become Intoxicated?

    It can be difficult to prove that the person consuming alcohol was intoxicated or would become intoxicated.  The chances are good that the bar tender will not admit he or she knew the person was drunk.  Usually, evidence from other bar patrons, people who were with the bar patron or police officers will testify as to what they observed.