Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop laws are legal statutes in certain jurisdictions that hold bars, or any other business in which alcohol is served, potentially liable for injuries that result from consumption of alcohol.
These laws apply to any individual who has consumed alcohol and/or any other parties who are injured by the person who has consumed alcohol.
In most states, any establishment that serves alcohol is responsible for “keeping watch” over patrons to ensure that they do not consume enough alcohol to put themselves or others in danger. It is a mandate in some states that bars and other businesses that serve alcohol train their employees to watch over customers and their alcohol consumption as well.
It is advisable that all business that serve alcohol set and enforce rules to govern alcohol consumption due to the fact that dram shop laws apply even when limits are not set. It is important to note that personal injury claims are far less likely to impact businesses that do mandate drink limits and consistently enforce those limits.
In the majority of jurisdictions, a customer who drinks too much and only injures him or herself and his or her own personal property cannot sue for damages. Any third party that suffers personal injury however, may be able to hold the business liable in these same jurisdictions.
Many states also set limits on the damages that can be claimed against a business establishment, given that the drinker is the party ultimately responsible for his or her own behavior. This includes the over-consumption of alcohol. However, the liability of the drinker does not always eliminate the possibility that a business may be held partially liable for any injuries suffered.
In some states, dram shop laws even dictate that the serving of alcohol to a person who is “obviously intoxicated” is enough to make a bar, or other business establishment in which alcohol is served, potentially liable for any injuries that result from the actions of the intoxicated individual.