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Navigating the Possibilities of an Alcohol-Related Lawsuit
Among the list of worst possible scenarios for a commercial vendor that holds a liquor license – whether it’s a bar, restaurant, package store or tavern – being sued for an alcohol-related liability is among the top contenders. When a drunk patron or third-party decides to press charges against a venue for an alcohol-related injury, there are a few different angles they could take to make a legitimate case for themselves. For this reason, bar owners should become acquainted with the laws, risks, and possible liabilities that could negatively impact their business in the future.
Varying Laws, Regulations and Proximate Cause
Each state has a different law regarding liabilities and alcohol injuries, but many states collectively agree that commercial vendors of alcohol should be held responsible for an injury that is caused by a drunk customer at their bar. More detailed legalities depend on the specific scenario, since the majority of the country requires the injured person suing the vendor to prove that the serving of alcohol was a proximate cause of the accident – which is a justified and proven connection between the victim’s injury and the drunk patron’s actual act of drinking at the bar. Some states do put a cap on the amount of damages that a person can collect from an accused commercial vendor for alcohol-related injuries, since they do place blame on the drunk person who caused the injury as well. Typically, states consider the owners of a bar liable when alcohol was served to a minor, the vendor sold liquor without a state-issued liquor license, the vendor sold liquor after the normal operating hours of their business, or if the vendor was acting in a reckless manner, serving the patron until he or she became visibly intoxicated.
Overly Intoxicated Patrons
A customer at a bar, or a third-party friend or family member, who is suing the owner for an alcohol-related injury that took place at their establishment must do so by proving that the drunken perpetrator was visibly intoxicated after being served by the vendor. To further establish this, a court will factor in the condition of the drunk person, and whether or not a bar employee should have noticed that he or she was serving alcohol to a person that was already visibly intoxicated; this isn’t rated by the amount of alcohol that was served, but by the noteworthy effect it had on the person. In past cases where patrons have proven that they – or their loved one – were injured by an alcohol-related action and the venue is to blame, they justified it by showing that the drunk man or woman demonstrated “significant physical dysfunction or actions” that were a “clear danger to himself”, as well as others. This is most often proven by a lawyer.
Employer Events and Parties
When employers throw an office party or event at a bar, there are two types of scenarios that could take place where alcohol-related injuries are involved – either the employer hosting the party is liable for his or her drunk employee’s harmful behavior, or the venue’s bar workers are responsible for excessively intoxicating the employee. If it’s the first case, and an employer is liable for an alcohol-related injury, then it must be proved that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment. In this instance, the drunk patron who inflicted harm on, harassed or conducted themselves in a dangerous manner toward someone else could have been stopped by their employer, who clearly failed to prevent it. Strongly advising against or discouraging excessive drinking, arranging for a cash bar to limit the number of drinks employees purchase, setting alcohol-related behavior disciplinary policies in place and providing safe methods of transportation to and from the party are all smart ways an employer can protect themselves from any alcohol-related liability.
Obtain Liquor Liability Insurance for Your Bar
In order to avoid any legal trouble pertaining to alcohol-related injuries at your bar, contact the Restaurant Programs of America. You can easily get in touch with an RPA agent through our online contact form, or call us directly at 844-358-2296.