What are potential defenses to dram shop lawsuits?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Premises Liability Defense |

It is fairly common knowledge for people living in New York that driving a vehicle after drinking too much alcohol is dangerous. It impairs people’s ability to concentrate, dulls their reaction time and affects driver in other ways. Drunk drivers can cause serious car accidents as a result and the victims can suffer significant injuries.

It is clear that if drunk drivers cause accidents and injuries result, they may be required to compensate the victims for the damages they cause. However, it is possible that the bar or restaurant the driver drank at prior to driving may also be liable for the damages the driver causes as well. These are known as dram shop laws and if the bartenders illegally served alcohol to the driver, they could be liable for the damages as well.

There are three main ways that bartenders can illegally serve people. It is common knowledge that it is illegal to serve alcohol to people under 21 years old. However, it is also illegal to serve people who are visibly intoxicated or are known by the bartender to be a habitual drunkard.

Potential defenses in dram shop lawsuits

The bar or restaurant may have defenses if they are involved in dram shop lawsuits though. Even if the person is under 21 years old, as long as the server checked the ID and it appeared to be a valid governmental ID, they may not be liable. The other two instances when it is deemed illegal to serve are subjective and it can be difficult to discern if people are intoxicated simply by observing them.

Many people in New York decide to drive home after drinking at a bar or restaurant. If these people cause an accident, which results in injuries to the victims, the place that served the driver alcohol could be liable for the damages. These can be very costly for the establishment. There are potential defenses to these lawsuits though and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.


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