Dram Shop Laws: Can You Hold a Bar Accountable in New York?

Dram shop laws place liability on establishments, such as bars, that sell alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals. If a business is found to have sold alcohol to a person who was intoxicated at the time of the sale, they can also be held responsible for any injuries caused by the drunk person. These injuries can include those sustained in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian injuries, assaults, or other actions that result in harm. In New York, only the injured party can sue the business for damages.

Limitations to Dram Shop Laws

These laws forbid the sale or service of alcohol to people who are visibly intoxicated, but it can be difficult to establish this. If a patron shows an obvious lack of coordination, inability to stand, or other sure signs of drunkenness, it is easy to tell they are intoxicated. All other cases, employees must make a judgement call. There are signs, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and difficulty maintaining eye contact, which can indicate inebriation. It is impossible to truly calculate a person’s level of intoxication without knowing how many drink the person has consumed, the length of time they’ve been drinking, if they have consumed food, their body weight, and a number of other factors that contribute to the effects of alcohol. Employees rely on their own intuition when making the decision to sell alcohol to a customer.

The laws also requires that the sale be made directly to the intoxicated individual, and not to someone who later gives them the drink. You will need to prove the establishment did sell to the individual in question, and they were not receiving alcohol from another party, such as a friend or date.

Proving Your Dram Shop Claim

If you have been injured by a drunk person, you may be able to pursue a claim against the establishment that sold them alcohol, under dram shop laws. In order to do so, however, you will need to prove several factors. Proving these factors can be difficult, but a qualified drunk driving accident attorney will know the right questions to ask and how to gather evidence for your claim.

You will first need to prove that they persons who injured you was drunk. Evidence may be obtained from police records or their own admission. Next, you will need to prove that the business did sell alcohol to the person who injured you. Your attorney may examine security camera footage, sales records, or interview witnesses to prove this event. Finally, you must prove that the establishment caused or contributed to the intoxication of the person who injured you.

Proving liability can be a difficult undertaking. An experienced lawyer can help you investigate your accident and discover if more than one party is liable. If so, they will be able to develop a plan to file your claim, and can advocate for you in court if your case goes to litigation. Cases involving multiple parties can easily become complicated, and you should consult your attorney about how best to proceed. There can be conflicts of interest and other factors to consider, but your lawyer will be able to advise you how to handle your claim.

Our team of dedicatedNYC drunk driving accident attorneys are prepared to assist you with your claim. If you have been injured by an intoxicated individual and there may be more than one party responsible for your accident, we can tackle the complex process of proving liability. We have over 100 years of collective experience for you to trust in, and we have recovered more than $500 million for our clients. Contact Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP to find out how we can assist you.