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Alcohol Liability

Alcohol related traffic fatalities were 39% in 2005.1 Not all of the drivers in these crashes drank alcohol at home. They may have been at a friend's home, a party, or the bar on the corner. The alcohol may have been purchased at a convenience store, where they purchased more while under the influence. The fact is that anyone that willfully or knowingly sells or furnishes alcohol to someone they know will be driving, they may be held liable for any injuries or deaths that is shown to be specifically caused by the act of serving, furnishing or selling the alcohol. It must be proven, such as in the case of grocery or convenient stores, that the person receiving the alcohol was noticeably intoxicated. Expert testimony may prove the person was noticeably intoxicated due to the blood alcohol content, even if witnesses state otherwise.

Underage drinkers will use false identification cards to obtain alcohol. When these are used, it is possible the owner or an employee of the owner may not knowingly sell alcohol to the minor. If an owner or employee should have known the purchaser was underage, it is a criminal act in itself to sell the alcohol to them. Liability for injuries attributed to the sale is extremely possible. An owner is not liable for damages from injuries linked to the sale of alcohol to underage friends of a driver if it was not known the driver was also underage and the alcohol may be consumed by the driver. The owner is still guilty of a criminal act of selling alcohol to minors in this case.

The actual consumer of alcohol may not recover any damages for personal injury from anyone that provided the alcohol. Passengers riding with the intoxicated driver, however, may be able to recover damages, even when both parties were drinking. Injuries not caused by the operation of a motor vehicle, such as falling down, may not be recovered. Owners that do not live in or on commercial property, or do not have a license to sell alcohol, are not liable unless they provide consent to drink on their property.

Contact a Iowa premise liability lawyer representing clients in Iowa City, Iowa today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Governmental Immunity

Sidewalks, roadways, parks and other public areas are often sites of accidents and injuries. If there is a flaw on the public property, or repairs have not been completed, members of the public may be injured. If the accident or injury related to the property itself was privately owned, the owner would be liable. Public property is regulated by a different set of laws. Sovereign immunity, or governmental immunity, is where no governmental body can be sued unless it gives permission2. These laws stemmed from days when kings set the rules, and was negated by the Federal Tort Claims Act relating to federal concerns and state waivers in each individual state, allowing certain cases.

If you are a victim of a crime on public property that is committed by someone who is not a public employee (including police officers and firemen) on duty, neither Federal nor State governments may be held responsible. Limited exceptions apply to law enforcement officers.

The FTCA does allow monetary damages, but they are only for specific amounts. The procedures for filing a claim against the federal government law, and this also may be determined largely by the laws of the individual state. Before a lawsuit may be filed, written claims must be submitted. Premises liability laws are unique and have rules and requirements that vary from state to state. Experienced premise liability attorneys will be able to assist you to determine if you have a premises liability case if you have been injured on public property.

If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation contact an Iowa premise liability attorney, representing clients in Iowa City, Iowa  at the Clark, Butler, Walsh & Hamann. Give us a call at (319) 234-5701 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our Location

We are located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. Our office is directly across from the Black Hawk County Courthouse.

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Contact Details

Address: 315 E 5th St., Waterloo, Iowa 50703 Phone: (319) 234-5701 Fax: (319) 232-9579. Email:

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