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Can a Bartender be Held Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?

If you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, you want everyone who is responsible to be liable for their actions. Although the intoxicated driver’s negligence is to blame, the “cause” of their behavior — alcohol — is a contributing element.

Bartenders (in some cases) provide drunk drivers with the alcohol that caused their intoxication, indirectly contributing to car accidents. Sometimes, bartenders overserve their patrons, which can be evidence of greater responsibility. Do the effects of a bartender serving a customer make them liable if that customer drives drunk and injures another person?

Individual Liability

The person who drove drunk is primarily responsible for injuring people by driving under the influence. In the majority of car accident cases, at least one driver will be liable. The individual liability in a DUI case may seem especially prominent because regardless of who served the alcohol, the customer chose to drive drunk. The dangers of driving drunk are well known, and there are multiple options for avoiding it (such as walking, appointing a designated driver, or using a rideshare service). The obvious dangers of driving while intoxicated are evidence of the driver’s liability.

The Responsibility of a Bar When Serving Patrons

Although drivers are ultimately responsible for their choice to get in a car and drive, bartenders do have a responsibility to monitor the consumption of their customers. Businesses that serve alcohol are legally obligated to be aware of how much their patrons are drinking, and stop serving them if they drink too much. People who ignore those laws and continue to serve heavily intoxicated customers are violating laws, and do indirectly contribute to accidents which result. But can they be liable in a personal injury claim?

Dram Shop Laws

To address the issue of liability in drunk driving accident cases, many states have “dram shop” laws. Dram shop laws attribute liability to businesses who are responsible for serving alcohol to people who eventually injure others in a drunk driving accident.

According to dram shop laws, businesses are held liable rather than their employees. If the business which provided alcohol is found to be at fault for damages, the establishment would be liable instead of an individual bartender.

The attorneys of Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC are available to discuss your claim during a free case evaluation. We can evaluate the details of your case and find who is liable for harming you or your loved one. We are committed to holding negligent parties responsible and getting our clients the compensation they deserve following an injury.

Call (607) 228-8404 to speak with our lawyers on the phone, or send us a message to schedule a time to talk with our team.