Dram Shop Laws: Can I Sue a Bar for Overserving Alcohol?

Posted on December 18, 2015 at 11:26am by

Photo of courtroomAfter being hit by a drunk driver, you will likely be looking for someone to hold responsible, and you should be. Liable parties should compensate you for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident, but who is liable? The driver, obviously, but there may be more people or entities responsible for your pain.

What Are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws are state statutes that hold bars and other businesses that serve alcohol, such as casinos and restaurants, liable for accidents caused by their intoxicated patrons. Lawsuits against businesses that serve alcohol are based on whether or not the establishment in question overserved alcohol to a customer that then caused an injury.

For example, if a bartender continues to serve alcohol to an already drunk patron who then drives away and crashes into another car, causing injury or even death, the bar or restaurant the drunk driver came from could be held liable for damages.

How to Prove Dram Shop Liability

Proving liability in a dram shop case is different from proving liability in other car accidents. Instead of trying to show the other driver was negligent, in a dram shop case, you will have to prove recklessness.

That means that a server was aware that the patron was already visibly drunk or was under 21, but recklessly disregarded the risk that they would cause an injury later and served them more alcohol anyway.

Social Host Liability

Much the same as a dram shop case, social host liability is when a person hosting a party or gathering provides alcohol to an already visibly intoxicated person or a minor who later causes an accident. New Jersey laws include BYOB parties and self-serving alcohol at parties in their social host liability statutes.



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