Dram Shop law is designed to protect innocent victims from over-serving of patrons at private parties, or at bars, restaurants or other licensed premises. Sometimes, however, vendors may be immune for Dram Shop liability, should they be able to prove they did their utmost to prevent the “reasonable foreseeability” of an alcohol-related accident or injury. So, when are bars not liable for damages due to unlawful alcohol sales?
Dram Shop Liability and Negligence
Dram shop liability is part of state law under New Jersey Statute 2A:22A also called the New Jersey Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act. This statute states that an individual who has been injured because of the actions of an intoxicated individual has the right to seek damages from the vendor who sold the substance if:
- They continued to serve alcoholic beverages to someone who was “visibly intoxicated”. Statute 2A:22A-3 defines the term as “a state of intoxication accompanied by a perceptible act or acts which present clear signs of intoxication”.
- The vendor sold or served alcohol to a minor (under the age of 21) and had reason to believe they were a minor.
- The vendor sold alcohol to an individual after closing time.
- The vendor or premises served a person who likely would become intoxicated due to the amount of alcohol that was served.
It should be noted, however, that New Jersey law states explicitly that a server shall be held responsible “only when the server served a visibly intoxicated person, or served a minor, under circumstances where the server knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person served was a minor,” meaning any evidence of non-negligence procedure or practices may damage a Dram Shop liability claim.
Evidence of Vendor Non-Negligence
Under New Jersey Dram Shop law, certain evidence may be presented which can outline why a licensed premise was not negligent for a person being over-served alcohol. The following policies are examples of practices which demonstrate evidence of non-negligence by a bar, tavern, or other licensed premises:
- Encouraging customers to take a taxi home if they consume too much alcohol
- Promoting non-alcoholic drinks
- Encouraging clientele not to become intoxicated
- Sending the servers of the premises to approve server educational courses
If a bar or tavern owner can show that they have taken appropriate steps to try and minimize the risk of accidents, fights or injuries, they may successfully argue that they did everything in their power to prevent the “reasonable foreseeability” of an alcohol-related incident.
If You Think You May Be Liable for an Accident, Call DeZao Law Today
If a drunk driver injures someone in an accident, they may be able to claim compensation – not only from the driver but also from whoever provided them more alcohol than they should have. If you fear you may be subject to a lawsuit because someone was injured at the hands of a patron at your establishment, seek expert legal guidance right away. Speak with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney today at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. Our firm provides dram shop law services and are here to assist you with your case. Call us at (855) 432-2489 for a free consultation.