TAVERN BAR LIABILITY aka ‘DRAM SHOP’
Dram shop liability is a statutory claim to recover damages from a commercial seller of alcoholic beverages, such as a bar/tavern, grocery store or restaurant, for a person’s injuries or death caused by a customer’s intoxication. Ordinary principles of negligence apply in dram shop liability cases. Thus, sellers of alcohol may be held liable when they sell liquor to an intoxicated patron and they knew or should have known that selling the liquor to the intoxicated patron created an unreasonable risk of harm to others who may be injured either on or off the premises. A classic example of dram shop liability is when a person goes to a bar and they become intoxicated to the point that they should not drive. However, the bartender continues to serve the person. The person leaves the bar, drives their vehicle under the influence of alcohol and causes a major automobile collision to occur. The injured people in the automobile accident now have a potential claim against both the driver and the bar.
It should be noted, however, that dram shop liability does not extend to social gatherings when alcohol is consumed by those of legal drinking age. Providing alcohol to a minor is not only illegal but can create personal liability upon someone who provides alcohol to a minor who thereafter causes injury to another due to their intoxication. Generally, if a person has a viable dram shop claim, they may recover a monetary award for “damages” sustained because of the incident. Here are some general types of damages, which may be recovered by an injured person, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case:
- Pain and Suffering
- Reasonable Expenses of Necessary Medical Care
- Lost Earnings
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Property Damage
- Punitive Damages
In order to legally recover damages against a seller of alcohol in a Dram Shop claim, however, an injured person must prove:
- The injuries and damages were caused as a result of the seller negligently or willingly selling alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or minor.
- If not for the negligence of the seller, the person would not have sustained injuries and damages.
Dram shop claims are complex and involve several elements of law and fact, which must exist before an injured person can maintain a viable claim. These issues are normally too complicated for a laymen or inexperienced attorney to handle without assistance. An experienced attorney in this area of law should always be consulted to investigate and assist an injured person to help prosecute their claim. Dram shop liability is created by Arizona statute; as such a lawsuit should be filed within one year from the date of the accident to preserve the claim. In Arizona, liability created by statute shall be commenced and prosecuted within one year after the incident occurs. An exception is when minors or incompetent people are injured; or when the injured person was injured while on the job and there is a Workers Compensation claim pending. An experienced attorney should always be consulted about all aspects of the case, including the time limitations imposed by law, call us now! 928-718-8888!