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What happens if a bartender over-serves?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2019 | Uncategorized

Bartenders are responsible for serving people the correct amount of alcohol. This means that in addition to checking a customer’s ID or Driver’s License, the bartender must also roughly keep track of how many drinks they are serving each individual.

The reason bartenders must stop serving or cut someone off, is because a high number of accidents result from intoxicated drivers. A simple way to help prevent drunk driving is to stop serving alcohol. Dram Shop Laws attempt to combat the high number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

What are Dram Shop Laws?

In the event that an intoxicated person harms another person, both the intoxicated individual and the person who served the individual alcohol, may be liable. Bartenders may be accountable for serving alcohol to minors or continually serving a person that is visibly intoxicated.

An interesting specification of the law is that both a non-intoxicated victim and the person that was the offender—drunk driver—can sue the bartender or the bar establishment. If either party was killed, the person’s family can sue the bar. The victim’s family can sue both the drunk driver and the establishment that served the driver.

Nearly 20 years ago, a New Jersey family was awarded $135 million after a daughter was paralyzed in a car collision with a drunk driver. The driver had been over-served at a New York Giants game and had blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit.

What do you need to prove that a third-party was at fault?

It may be difficult to prove fault. Here are five elements courts require the plaintiff to prove:

  1. The bar/bartender sold alcohol to the individual that caused harm.
  2. That the server knowingly served a visibly intoxicated individual.
  3. The relationship between the location and the person’s intoxication level.
  4. That the bartender knowingly and intentionally over-served the individual.
  5. The person that was harmed has significant, life-changing injuries.

Each scenario may alter the requirements. In order to understand the legalities behind a Dram Shop lawsuit, speak with an experienced legal expert. Regardless of your situation, a legal expert can help guide you through the process and understand what to expect.