Conn. Dram Shop Act Changes Become Effective

June 18, 2003

Connecticut’s Professional Insurance Agent’s Association issued a bulletin noting that changes in the state’s Dram Shop Act, Connecticut General Statutes Section 30-102, became effective on June 3.

The Act, which has been in force since the 1800’s, “authorizes a cause of action against a person who sells alcoholic liquor to an intoxicated person, who in turn causes injury to another person or their property, as a result of his or her intoxication,” said the bulletin.

However, the amount of recovery from such lawsuits has been limited to the statutory claims permitted by the Act, with certain exceptions. “Up until recently, a person who was successfully sued under the Dram Shop Act could be forced to pay damages up to a maximum of $20,000 per injured person or $50,000 aggregate per incident.” The recently enacted legislation raises these limits to a maximum of $250,000 per injured person or $250,000 aggregate per incident.

The bulletin also noted that “In addition to the increased caps on damages, the new legislation provides that if a person sells alcohol to an already intoxicated person 21 years of age or older who thereafter injures another person or their property, the injured person cannot sue the seller of the alcohol for negligence. On the other hand, if the person who is sold or provided alcohol is a minor, who then injures another person or their property, the seller of the alcohol can be sued for negligence in addition to being sued under the Dram Shop Act.”

The bulletin stressed that “In the scenario involving minors, liability can be unlimited and basic coverage could leave an insured with significant exposure.”

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