Liquor Liability Lawyers - Dram Shop Laws
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
Dram shop laws are intended to protect the public by defining the liability of establishments who sell alcoholic beverages to minors or noticeably intoxicated persons who subsequently cause injury or death to third parties. The term "dram shop" originally referred to shops that sold spirits by the dram, which is a small unit of liquid.
Dram shop laws attempt to protect the public by creating an incentive for establishments that serve liquor to do so responsibly. Businesses can limit their liability by taking steps such as training their employees to "card" or "ID" patrons and look for signs of intoxication. Telltale signs that a patron should not continue to be served alcoholic beverages include slurred speech and decreased motor function.
Some establishments obtain insurance to cover themselves against dram shop liability. In such cases, the insurance company may work together with the business to implement employee-training programs intended to prevent patrons of the business from becoming overly intoxicated, from driving if they become impaired, or from purchasing alcoholic beverages altogether if they are underage.
Dram shop laws vary by state, but most states have implemented some version of such laws. As of this writing, the only states without significant dram shop laws are Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.
Social hosts in private residences and employers who host "office parties" or picnics in which alcoholic beverages are sold can also be held liable if an impaired guest or employee causes injury or death to a third party following the event. In some states, dram shop laws address social host liability issues. Generally, however, dram shop laws only cover commercial services and not private parties. In states with separate social host liability laws, only those who serve alcohol either to minors or to intoxicated persons may be targeted.
Social hosts in private residences should be aware of their guest's behavior, refuse to continue serving alcohol to those who show signs of impairment, and encourage those who become impaired to stay over. A social host in a private residence should maintain control over the distribution of alcohol on premise.
An organization that hosts an event in which alcohol is served can diminish its liability by contracting a caterer or outside venue. The organization should insure that the vendor is compliant with local and state licensing and insurance regulations. Event planners greatly increase their organizations' potential liability when they try to cut costs by purchasing alcohol themselves.
The details of each liquor liability case vary significantly. A dram shop claim may also only be a part of a case involving injuries caused, for instance, by a drunken driver. If you, or someone you love, has been killed or injured by someone who was alcohol impaired at the time, it may be in your interest to consult with an auto accident attorney who can help you determine if a dram shop violation played a part in the incident. An experienced liquor liability lawyer may also be able to help you recover compensation for your loss or injuries.
Contact us today to find an experienced auto accident lawyer near you.