Liquor liability in Illinois is a unique practice area, one in which relatively few attorneys regularly practice. It requires specialized knowledge of the history and purpose of the Illinois Liquor Control Act, as well as the exceptions and available defenses. In addition, alternate theories of liability exist outside of strict liability under the Act. Having experienced attorneys who understand this area of the law is essential to protecting the rights of those in the liquor and restaurant industries, as well as the rights of non-commercial suppliers of alcoholic beverages, social hosts, manufacturers and suppliers of dispensing equipment, and their insurance carriers.
Liquor liability was unknown at common law in Illinois. However, with Section 6-21 of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (commonly known as the Illinois Dram Shop Act, 235 ILCS 5/6-21) the Illinois legislature created a cause of action in favor of those injured by an intoxicated person. This legislation gives a potential statutory cause of action to an injured party and/or members of the party's family against a liquor licensee in the business of selling alcohol, or against any person or entity that owns, rents, leases or permits occupation of a building or premises with knowledge that alcohol will be sold therein.
Our firm's Liquor Liability Practice Team does not only deal with potential liability under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. Many businesses and organizations, whether traditionally liquor-related or not, face other potential liabilities that could come under the umbrella of "liquor liability," but do not fall strictly under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. Restaurants, taverns and other businesses at which liquor may be sold have other risks closely associated with the presence of alcoholic liquors. For example, persons injured on the premises by the criminal acts of third parties who may have consumed alcoholic liquors, but are not intoxicated, such that there is no liability under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. Even businesses which sponsor events at which liquor is provided, but not sold, and not-for profit organizations performing fundraising where alcohol is involved, have liquor liability issues and risks. In such cases, the issue of whether a separate legal duty apart from that under the Illinois Liquor Control Act exists on the part of the liquor licensee, premises owner, business or not-for profit organization is of paramount consideration, and a potential complete defense to any cause of action brought by an injured person or parties.
Heyl Royster's Liquor Liability Practice Team has extensive experience defending clients involved in or associated with the liquor and restaurant industries.
Allied Insurance Group
Capitol Indemnity Corporation
Cincinnati Insurance Company
CNA Insurance Company
Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund
K & K Insurance Group, Inc.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
McLarens Young International
Northland Insurance Group