If you wanted to grab a drink back in the old days, you’d pull up a stool at your local tavern and order a dram of your favorite spirit. A dram was the unit of measure for hard liquor back then, and a seller of alcoholic beverages was called a “dram shop.”
Nowadays, you probably don’t hear those terms very often. However, the name lives on in a type of statute called a dram shop law.
Here’s how it works. Say someone staggers out of a bar, clearly intoxicated. He then gets in his car to drive home. On his way, he crashes into an innocent driver, injuring her.
The injured person may file a personal injury suit against the driver who injured her. She might also have a case against the bar who served the driver. This is because of dram shop laws, which make any business with a liquor license potentially liable. These include:
- Sports stadiums
Massachusetts Dram Shop Laws
Massachusetts General Laws Ch.138 § 69 prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person. This means that the owners and staff of businesses that serve alcohol must make sure their patrons are not overserved.
Businesses often hire an agency called Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS). TIPS trains bartenders and wait staff to serve alcohol responsibly. The TIPS course teaches servers how to recognize potential problems and intervene before tragedies can happen.
Liquor Liability Accidents
Drunk driving accidents are the most frequent type of alcohol-related accident. However, it’s far from the only way that a drunk person might go on to hurt someone. It’s common for drunk people to get into fights or even assault someone, for example.
Social Host Liability
What about alcohol that is served in the privacy of your own home? Homeowners and other private individuals who serve alcohol also have a responsibility to ensure that their guests do not consume too much alcohol. If a drunk person leaves a private home or event and injures someone, the host could be found liable.
This is a related area of the law. It is known as “social host liability.” In Massachusetts, social host liability mostly, although not exclusively, applies to minors. Say a minor is given alcohol at a person’s home and then goes on to injures himself or another person. In this example, the homeowner may be found responsible under social host law.
If you are injured by a drunk person, who pays your damages? The money could come from multiple places.
The state of Massachusetts requires bars, liquor stores, and restaurants to carry liquor liability insurance. This is to protect themselves if they are found liable for an incident. At a minimum, this policy must cover $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. However, most businesses carry significantly more.
If you are injured by a drunk driver, you may also recover damages from the driver’s car insurance policy. The amount of coverage will vary from driver to driver. At a minimum, Massachusetts requires drivers to carry $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in auto liability insurance.
Filing a Dram Shop Claim in Massachusetts
It is not easy to prove liability in a dram shop claim. Winning the case often depends on a prompt and thorough investigation, as well as reliable eye witnesses. In the example of a drunk driving accident, you may be required to prove that:
- The person who injured you was a patron of the establishment.
- The server should have known that the patron was intoxicated.
- The patron drove while intoxicated.
As you can imagine, it is difficult to know who was in a bar at a given time. A bar patron’s memory might be unreliable. For a good outcome, it is important to work with an attorney who is experienced in investigating these kinds of cases.
Hire a Worcester Liquor Liability Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured by an intoxicated person, you may be able to seek damages from the vendor who supplied the alcohol. Worcester liquor liability attorney Peter Ventura has the experience and expertise to bring about justice for your suffering.
Although Massachusetts state law allows a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the injury to file a claim, time is of the essence when filing these complex cases. Contact our offices today for a free initial consultation.
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