If the worst were to happen and you were injured in a drunk driving accident, who would you seek compensation from? Like most people, you’d probably go after the driver for reckless behavior. But Massachusetts, like many other states across the country, has what is known as a “dram shop liability law” that allows victims to also sue the licensed liquor provider who served the intoxicated person.
What is a Dram Shop?
Dram shop is an old English term for a tavern where alcohol was sold in small units known as “drams”. Today, this law covers bars, restaurants, clubs, liquor stores or any other commercial establishments with a liquor license. The law states that these businesses can be held responsible if they serve alcohol to an already intoxicated person or to a minor, who then later causes injury or damages to a third party.
For a person hurt in a drunk driving accident, the damages can be catastrophic, and the money they receive from the driver’s insurance plan might not even begin to cover the costs. That’s why businesses with a liquor license are required to buy a specific liquor liability insurance. The victim can then sue the shop to cover their medical expenses and other costs related to the accident.
When pursuing a commercial establishment over a dram shop liability law, you need to establish that the establishment acted in a negligent manner. There are generally three factors to proving negligence in any case:
- The party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached that duty of care
- You incurred specific damages as a result of the breach
In this specific instance, negligence may include not asking the age of a patron, serving after closing time or serving too many drinks in a short amount of time. Proving negligence would mean you have to show that the person serving alcohol to the patron knew or should have known the person was drunk.
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, reach out to us. Our team can help you understand your rights and ensure you receive the compensation that you’re entitled to. And remember, the holidays are one of the busiest times of year for alcohol consumption. Make sure your holiday season is a safe one: never drink and drive.