Can a bar be held responsible for the injuries caused by someone else? When alcohol-related accidents happen, one of the first questions people ask is who was responsible for the property damage or personal injury that occurred.
In New Jersey and other states, a concept called “modified comparative negligence” can help resolve the issue. The parties involved in the negligence case can be comparatively negligent, leading to their own injuries. Keep reading to learn more about dram shop modified comparative negligence.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Negligence refers to behavior that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others. There are certain elements needed in any negligence case which must be proven. For example, suing a bar for negligence requires you to prove that the bar has a certain owed duty and that they breached that duty.
Modified comparative negligence is a type of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence, unlike contributory negligence, is a newer approach for juries, where each party’s negligence is weighed to determine damages. It is a more proportionate type of responsibility.
This is now one of the most common approaches across different states. If the plaintiff is equally or even more responsible for their injury, then they will not recover any damages. On the other hand, they can recover damages only if they are less than 50 percent at fault.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Dram Shop Cases
This approach is known mostly for its use in car accident cases. When a drunk driver causes a collision leading to injury and property damage, all liable parties will be assigned fault. It can even extend to the dram shop.
The bar will not be held liable for the actions of the drunk driver. To do so would be an unreasonable expectation of a bar’s duty. However, the bar can be held responsible for serving alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated. The drunk driver will definitely have some liability for driving under the influence.
Modified comparative negligence aid the jury in deciding the degree of responsibility of each party. For example, James entered a bar with the intention to get extremely drunk to the point of drying the tap. Before even ordering a drink, he announces his intentions. James is also planning to drive home. The bar continues to serve James even though he’s already intoxicated. Later, James gets into a car accident leading to the damage of another car.
In this example, a jury can decide that the dram shop is partly responsible for the damages that occurred because they neglected to cut off James and continued to over-serve him. However, James will most likely carry most of the responsibility because he made poor decisions and intended to over-drink. Serving a person who was visibly intoxicated can lead to recklessness.
In a different example, James may simply be going to the bar for a celebratory drink after a promotion, without any intentions of getting extremely intoxicated. If the bar decides to over-serve alcohol to help celebrate James’ promotion because he’s a loyal patron, and James later gets into an accident, a jury can decide that the bar has a greater role leading to the collision.
How to Sue a Bar for Negligence
If your property was damaged or you were injured because of an alcohol-related accident, and you believe that a dram shop is partly responsible for the case, you can file a negligence claim against them.
Suing a bar for negligence with DeZao Law is your best option. The Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. in New Jersey handle a variety of legal matters, including modified comparative negligence cases in personal injury law. For over 25 years, they have handled cases with attention to detail and empathy.