Schedule a Consultation

Dram Shops Laws and Social Host Liability in Iowa

Updated on
February 10, 2021
Article written by
Eugene Nassif

In every state in the USA, if you’ve been injured by someone who is intoxicated, you can bring a personal injury claim against them. In addition, some states, including Iowa, have laws that also allow a person who has been injured by an intoxicated person to bring a claim against the alcohol vendor or person who provided the alcohol.  

 

In this article, we discuss these laws, called dram shop and social host liabilities, and cover questions including: 

  • What is dram shop and what are the laws in Iowa? 
  • Social Host Liability in Iowa 
  • Damages and statute of limitations in Iowa  

  

What is dram shop and what are the laws in Iowa? 

 

Iowa’s dram shop act is codified in Iowa Code 123.92. In short, Iowa’s dram shop laws state that a vendor with a license or permit to sell alcohol may be held liable for injuries to a person if the vendor sold or served alcohol to the person who injured them. The vendor will be liable if the person who was intoxicated appeared to be intoxicated at the time the alcohol was sold or served. 

 

Unlike most personal injury cases, where the two parties are the injured and the person who caused the injuries, dram shop cases add the vendor who served the alcohol to the party who caused the injuries.  

Example: Party A goes to Bar for drinks. The bartender or server at Bar notices that Party A is becoming intoxicated but keeps serving them. Party A pays the bill and leaves, driving home. While driving home, Party A strikes Party B with their vehicle. Party B may sue not only Party A but also Bar for damages. Party B’s claim against Bar is for continuing to serve Party A alcohol even though they were intoxicated because the intoxication was a proximate or “foreseeable” cause of the accident that caused Party B’s injuries.  

 

There are some factors that will prevent an injured party from recovering under their dram shop claim in Iowa. This is known as “complicity.” Complicity occurs when the injured person has “encouraged or voluntarily participated to a material and substantial extent” in the drinking that led to the intoxication of the person who caused the injuries. For example, if Party A and Party B were buying each other drinks and drinking together, they could not bring suits against each other for injuries later on due to complicity. 

 

Social Host Liability in Iowa 

 

While injured parties can recover from vendors who have licenses or permits to sell alcohol in Iowa, they cannot recover from social hosts who serve alcohol at parties or other events. In other words, if someone goes to a house party and then injures you, you can’t recover against the house party host. This is codified in Iowa Code section 123.49, which specifies that social hosts who provide alcohol to guests cannot be held liable if a guest consumes the alcohol and then injures another person as a result of the intoxication. 

 

Damages and statute of limitations in Iowa  

 

Dram shop claims are civil lawsuits meant to compensate the injured party for their losses which include everything from medical bills to lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering.  

 

Iowa has specific time limitations for dram shop cases. Iowa requires that the alcohol vendor has to be notified of the claim within 6 months of the date of injury. This notice must contain specific information about the parties involved, the date the events happened, any information you know about what led up to the injury, among other things. If notice is not provided within 6 months, a claim can’t be brought under the dram shop law.  

 

The dram shop claim itself has the same statute of limitations as other personal injury cases, 2 years. This means you have to file the case within 2 years of the time the injuries occurred. 


Dram Shops Laws and Social Host Liability in Iowa
Author

Eugene Nassif

Eugene Nassif is an associate attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. His primary focus is in business and civil litigation matters.

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

By Appointment

Mon - Fri

after 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone, Zoom Call, or in person at any of our office locations in:

Our attorneys have experience in:

No items found.

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Who We are

We are your community law firm. Our Iowa & Illinois Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation specific to your legal situation.