While New Jersey residents may be aware that they can hold a drunk driver accountable for driving under the influence, Dram Shop Laws allow them to hold the establishment that served them alcohol accountable as well.
What is a dram shop law?
Under these laws, a third party can file a lawsuit against the a business that serves alcohol to someone intoxicated or a minor who later goes on to injure or kill someone. In addition to the business, it is possible to hold the server or the clerk responsible for excessively serving someone. The law is not limited to bars and pubs; victims can also hold restaurants, stadium vendors, and liquor stores accountable through dram shop laws.
How can victims prove liability?
While the law allows victims to hold an establishment accountable, the reality is that it can be challenging. Most laws require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant should have sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual, and that the establishment’s alcohol is the reason the defendant was drunk. This can be complicated, as bartenders may not be able to gauge how drunk someone is and if they will be operating a vehicle or not.
The goal behind these laws is to have establishments serve alcohol responsibly and to ensure a drinker is of legal age. An accident victim who suspects the drunk driver who caused their injuries was drinking at an establishment should consider consulting an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It might be possible to gather evidence to help bolster the victim’s case.