Motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers are nothing short of reckless. These preventable collisions can result in catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. But what New York and Long Island accident victims may not realize is that drunk drivers may not be the only ones responsible for your injuries.
Bars and restaurants who serve alcohol have a responsibility under New York’s Dram Shop Act to promote public safety by not over-serving alcohol to customers. Establishments that are found providing patrons with copious amounts of alcohol, in addition to allowing them to drive home, can be equally as liable for the negligent acts a drunk driver commits on the road, particularly when they result in injuries.
As safety and health advocates, our team at Siler & Ingber believes in the power of understanding your rights when you are injured in an accident. In this blog, we aim to provide information you can use to identify when a bar or other third party should be held liable for your accident and how to file a claim for damages sustained.
What Are Dram Shop Laws
People who are intoxicated are known for making poor decisions. This includes when it is time to stop drinking or when it might not be safe to drive. Bars and restaurants, on the other hand, base their income on how many drinks their customers order: the more they sell, the more they make. This often leaves little incentive to turn down the prospect of a profit, even if the customer appears inebriated.
Dram shop laws were initiated to hold bars, businesses, and other third-party participants accountable for providing alcoholic beverages to individuals who committed negligence because of intoxication. If a customer is too intoxicated to know they should be cut off, yet a bartender continues to serve to make a profit, dram shop law can hold these actions accountable if there is a subsequent accident that results in damages to the customer or others.
The name dram law originated from the historical measuring unit of alcohol, the dram. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a dram is considered a small unit, about one-eighth of an ounce, otherwise equivalent to the average sip.
Dram shop claims have become highly prevalent throughout New York in the past few years, and 2020 could be heading for a record. With a surge in alcohol consumption sparked by months of coronavirus-related quarantines and an uptick in uncontrollable outdoor bars, we may see more dram shop cases come through the courts than ever before.
When A Bar Can Be Held Liable Under Dram Shop Law
Bars are not always at fault when a customer chooses to drink and drive. Legally, beverage vendors and social hosts in New York are not considered liable for providing alcohol to someone of or over the legal drinking age. If a driver is of legal drinking age does not show signs of being visibly drunk, it is not the bar’s responsibility to test their sobriety or watch to ensure someone else is driving home.
Where dram shop laws come into play is when examining at what capacity the drunk driver was served. Under the NY Dram Shop Act 11-100 and 11-101, the law states, “No person shall sell, deliver or give away or cause or permit or procured to be sold, delivered or given away any alcoholic beverages to (1) Any person, actually or apparently, under 21 years and (2) any visibly intoxicated person.” When bars commit these two offenses, that is when the legal repercussions begin.
Bars, restaurants, and third-party providers who knowingly procure alcohol for minors can incur significant fines and possibly lose their liquor license depending on the number of violations. Checking ID and turning away fraudulent identification is the first step to weeding out underage drinkers and establishments who Bars and restaurants neglect are most at risk for trouble.
To identify someone as visibly intoxicated, it can take multiple pieces of evidence to back a claim. These often include testimony from witnesses at the bar or experts in court who can confirm they say the drunk driver display the typical signs of intoxication, including:
- lack of physical coordination;
- slurred speech;
- bloodshot eyes;
- memory loss;
- crude behavior; and
- multiple drinks in a short period.
How To File A Dram Shop Claim
For an establishment or third-party provider to be held legally liable after a drunk driving accident, a plaintiff must be able to prove the following under the New York Dram Shop Act:
- the plaintiff suffered injury or damages as the result of the actions of an intoxicated individual;
- the defendant served alcohol to the intoxicated person who caused the damages or injury; and
- the defendant, therefore, contributed to the further intoxication of the individual.
These three requirements are crucial to a successful dram shop claim. Without evidence to support these stipulations, a plaintiff may only be able to sue the drunk driver for damages after an accident.
Finding evidence to support your claim is not an easy task. If you believe you have a case, contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced directly in dram shop claims. These attorneys have access to professional resources and investigation techniques you need to help get you back on your feet after an accident.
New York City and Long Island Accident Attorneys
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving clients across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-LAW-4343 or schedule an