Dram Shop Liability Claims in Montana
Dram shop liability claims are quite restricted in the state of Montana.
Generally, the service of alcohol isn't grounds for liability against the server, bartender, or establishment unless one of three conditions is proven: service to an intoxicated person, service to a minor, or the use of deception to trick a person into drinking alcoholic beverages.
One of these three facts must be proven to make a statutory personal injury claim. Even if one of these triggers is met, there are notice requirements and shorter statute of limitations periods than most negligence claims.
What Are the Dram Shop Laws in Montana?
Montana's liquor liability law requires bars and restaurants to help prevent intoxicated patrons from endangering innocent motorists.
As outlined in § 27-1-710, MCA, a person or business serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person can be liable for any injury inflicted by that person. This means that if a bar serves alcohol to a visibly drunk person who then drives and injures someone, the establishment may be held liable for the victim's damages at the hands of the drunk driver.
One essential aspect of Montana's dram shop cases is the tight deadlines for injured parties to present a claim against the bar.
The injured party must notify the establishment that served the intoxicated person of the potential claim via certified mail within 180 days, and the claim must be settled or a lawsuit filed within two years of the service of alcohol. This stands in contrast to a typical negligence case, which generally has a three-year statute of limitations.
Why You Need a Liquor Liability Defense Attorney
Dram shop liability claims can seriously impact businesses like bars, restaurants, and other establishments that serve alcohol. A liquor liability defense attorney can help potentially liable parties navigate the attendant legal complexities, meet tight deadlines, and defend their businesses against these claims.