18 Apr Serving it Right
Could your bartender be responsible for your DUI?
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons.
Many states have “dram shop” laws (named after an 18th century term for pubs or taverns). These laws are enforced through civil lawsuits, allowing DUI victims or their families to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages.
It’s tricky to know when exactly a bar may be liable. Here are a few examples of when an establishment could be responsible for your case:
When a Bartender Continues Serving a Patron In Spite of Obvious Intoxication
A bar may be liable for over-serving if a bartender continues to serve drinks to a patron who is very clearly intoxicated to the point that he or she may be a danger to themselves or others. If, for example, a patron is slurring their speech, acting confused, or having trouble standing up and walking, a bartender should make the decision to stop serving drinks to that patron. If the bartender continues giving that person drinks, they are knowingly increasing the chances of an accident, especially if the patron is planning on driving home from the bar.
When an Over-Served Bar Patron Causes a Car Accident
It is possible for a bar to be found liable for injuries or deaths caused by a drunk patron who drove, especially if a bartender was aware or could reasonably have inferred that the patron was planning to drive home.
Proving That a Bar Is At-Fault for Over-Serving
As previously mentioned, it can be challenging to prove fault even if you believe that a bar’s staff should be held responsible for an accident that resulted from their over-serving a patron. Not only do you have to prove that the intoxicated patron was under the age of 21 or had a habitual alcohol addiction, you have to prove that the bar staff knew the person was intoxicated and continued serving them anyways.
Bartenders might argue that they only served a patron a couple drinks, but that the patron had been drinking before coming to the bar, was drinking on an empty stomach, or had a low tolerance for alcohol. If the bar staff can prove that they could not reasonably be expected to know a patron was drunk, the bar will most likely not be held liable for any accidents or injuries resulting from that patron’s drunkenness.
However, that does not mean that you should just sit back if you’ve been harmed or have lost a loved one due to a bar staff’s inexperience or negligence. If you believe that you may have a case against a bar, talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about how you can prove fault.
If you’re still trying to determine whether a bar may be liable in your case, call Truskett Law to learn more.
Truskett Law is committed to keeping our community safe and healthy. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, we are here to help. We give free consultations for injuries, car wrecks and wrongful deaths.
Give us a call at (918) 392-5444