A Montana tavern may face liability for damages to the family of a young man who lost his life after being run over by a driver who had been served alcohol only 10 minutes earlier. The young man’s family recently commenced a wrongful death action seeking to hold the tavern responsible for contributing to the tragic car accident by furnishing alcohol to the driver.

The young man’s family accuses the tavern of negligence for over-serving the driver and giving him alcohol in a to-go cup shortly before the driver rode onto a sidewalk and struck the young man as he was walking with two friends. The driver’s blood alcohol level registered just over the legal limit, but the driver also admitted to having taken multiple drugs before the accident, including a sleep aid, an anti-depressant and a prescription painkiller. Nonetheless, the young man’s family believes the tavern should bear responsibility for the fatal accident and is seeking damages including medical expenses, loss of future income and loss of companionship.


Montana’s dram shop act makes it possible for accident victims or their surviving family members to hold a person or establishment liable for damages when alcohol has been served to a person who was visibly intoxicated. In this case, the tavern owner asserts that the driver was not visibly intoxicated when served and that surveillance camera footage will support the tavern’s defense against liability. The owner says that the to-go cup the tavern furnished to the driver was intended to be taken to the driver’s wife at the tavern’s outdoor smoking area.

As this case illustrates, it can be a challenge to prove that a person was visibly intoxicated at the time of service and the law limits the time in which victims must give notice of intent to file a claim. Montana residents who suffer injuries or the loss of a loved one due to irresponsible alcohol service may want to consult an experienced personal injury attorney in order to preserve their rights under the law.

Source: Seattle Times, “Bar that served driver before crash sued,” Nov. 10, 2012