When people are killed by drunk drivers or intoxicated individuals in another context, a cause of action may arise under the “Dram Shop Act.” The Illinois Liquor Control Act, known as the Dram Shop Act, gives individuals injured by an intoxicated person the right to sue not only the intoxicated person, but also the business or person who sold the liquor to the intoxicated person. However, the Dram Shop Act allows only limited recovery: damages for “actual loss,” but not for pain and suffering or loss of support. Thus, it is important to speak with a top personal injury lawyer to determine what damages may be available.
The Illinois Supreme Court is being asked to consider a question regarding the applicability of the Dram Shop Act: whether the “spouse” of an intoxicated person can recover damages under the Act. Two appellate court districts have reached differing conclusions on this issue.
Janet Adams, the spouse of Daniel Adams who died after he became intoxicated and fell down the stairs at an Illinois tavern, sued the tavern under the Dram Shop Act for reimbursement of medical and funeral expenses (“actual damages”) she was obligated to pay on behalf of her husband. The defendants moved to dismiss under Widmer v. Hoover, 324 Ill. App. 3d 280 (2003), an appellate court case that barred a spouse from recovering medical and funeral expenses under the Dram Shop Act.
However, the appellate court in Adams allowed the wife to recover under the Dram Shop Act. The court cited Schramer v. Tiger Athletic Association of America, 351 Ill. App. 3d 1016 (2004), which held that “the surviving spouse’s cause of action is for his or her own injury to property, not for the intoxicated decedent’s injury.” The court stated that if the Illinois legislature intended the spouse of an intoxicated person from recovering medical and funeral expenses, it would have specifically stated such.
Because of the conflicting appellate court decisions, the Illinois Supreme Court may resolve the issue.
For a free consultation with a top-rated Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.