If an intoxicated person causes you an accident, you may be able to claim damages from the establishment that sold them alcohol. You just need to prove that the establishment was negligent in their service. The laws that allow such claims are called dram shop laws. The specifics of dram shop laws vary by state, but the following are some of the things you may use to prove the negligence of an alcohol server.
The Bar Knowingly Served the Person
Dram shop laws only work in cases where an establishment intentionally served someone. Therefore, you have to prove that a bartender or server at the bar intentionally served the person alcohol. You can't use dram shop laws in a case where someone sneaks into a bar and steals alcohol or if the person got the alcohol from another third-party (say another patron) not affiliated with the establishment.
The Bartender Knew of the Intoxication
If you are basing your claim on the fact that the bartender served an intoxicated person, then you must prove that the bartender knew or ought to have known of the intoxication. Typical symptoms of intoxication include staggering, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech, among others. If the intoxicated person had such symptoms and the bartender still served them, then the bartender was negligent in their work.
The Bar Served Obvious Addicted Person
It may also be possible to use dram shop laws against a bartender who served a person whom they knew were struggling with alcohol addiction. Say the person was a local whom everyone in the area, including the bartender, knew had escaped from an alcohol rehabilitation center midway through their treatment. In such a case, the bartender is negligent in their service of the addict.
The Bartender Didn't Request Proof of Age
The law doesn't allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, except in a few specific cases. Therefore, a bartender is negligent if they serve someone under that age. The bartender's negligence is particularly glaring if their 'customer" looks young, and the bartender didn't even bother to ask for proof of age.
The Bar Operated After Hours
Bars are typically regulated to work specific hours. Bars who sell alcohol outside their hours of operations break the law and may face criminal penalties. Such a bar is also negligent, and you can use the criminal charges as evidence in your pursuit of injury damages based on dram shop laws.
To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.