Can New York Bartenders be Held Liable for Injuries Caused by an Intoxicated Customer?

Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to more than just a nasty hangover. Intoxicated individuals might try to drive after being overserved at a bar or restaurant and hurt someone else. Injured victims can sue the negligent driver in addition to the bartender or bar that served the drinks.

Statutes about the illegal sale of alcohol are commonly referred to as “dram shop” laws. These laws apply to bars, restaurants, or other businesses that sell alcohol to customers. If customers are served too much alcohol and end up injuring another person, that other person may sue the business that sold the alcohol in the first place. Liability is not based on just any sale. The sale must be illegal in some way. Common dram shop cases include intoxicated customers causing car accidents while driving drunk. Proving liability in a dram shop case may be challenging, and your attorney can help you gather the right evidence to prove your case.

If you were injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated bar customer, our New York personal injury lawyers can help you get compensation and justice. For a free evaluation of your case, call The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.

Suing New York Bars and Bartenders for Injuries Caused by Intoxicated Customers

Drunk driving accidents are tragically common in New York, and drivers are injured in DWI accidents regularly. Accident victims can sue the person who hit them, but many plaintiffs do not realize they have additional legal options. If the intoxicated driver who caused your injuries was illegally served at a bar or restaurant before the accident, you might be able to sue the bartender and the bar that served the drinks.

These kinds of situations are known as dram shop cases. The term dram shop is a bit outdated, but it refers to a business establishment that sells alcohol (i.e., dram) to patrons. Bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other businesses that furnish alcohol to customers may all be considered dram shops. These businesses must follow strict laws regarding who they can and cannot serve. If a bar illegally serves alcohol to a customer and that customer causes an accident, an injured victim can sue the bar or bartender under GOB Law § 11-101(1).

Holding bars liable for all the accidents and injuries caused by intoxicated patrons would be impossible. Instead, only accidents that stem from illegal sales of alcohol are covered by dram shop laws. If you were injured by an intoxicated driver or in any other alcohol-related accident, our New York personal injury lawyers can review your case to determine if you can sue a bar in addition to the intoxicated person who hurt you.

Liability for Injuries Caused by Intoxicated Bar Patrons in New York

If an intoxicated individual causes an accident, you can hold them liable for your injuries. You may also hold the bartender and bar where the intoxicated person was served liable. However, not every sale of alcohol is a potential liability issue. The sale must be illegal under ABC Law § 65(1)-(3) for the bartender or bar to be liable for a related accident. Our New York personal injury attorneys can help determine whether the sale of alcohol in your case was illegal.

An illegal sale is defined in one of three ways:

Underage Customer

First, the sale of alcohol is illegal if the customer is under the legal drinking age of 21 and the bartender knows or reasonably should know this. For example, a bartender who does not check the idea of a high school student who is clearly not 21 may be liable for an accident the young patron causes after being served. It does not matter that the bartender did not know the true age of the patron because they reasonably should have known they were too young.

Visibly Intoxicated Customer

Second, the sale is illegal if the customer is visibly intoxicated when they order a drink. This is harder to prove as different people react differently to alcohol consumption. Some people may be very intoxicated and hide it well. Others might only need a few drinks before they start losing their balance or slurring their words. This situation commonly involves intoxicated customers who are bar hopping and are already drunk when they arrive at a bar.

“Habitual Drunkard”

Third, it is illegal to sell alcohol to any known “habitual drunkard.” Essentially, this section of the law means that bartenders cannot serve drinks to known alcoholics or people who often drink too much. Proving someone is a habitual drunkard can be difficult, and cases are not often brought under this prong of the statute.

Common Examples of Lawsuits Against Bartenders for Injuries Caused by Intoxicated Customers

While DWI accidents are arguably the most common cases, they are not the only possibility. It is sometimes difficult to know whether the person who injured you was illegally served alcohol before the accident. Our New York personal injury lawyers can help you investigate the situation and determine whether a bar or bartender can also be held liable.

Car accidents stemming from DWIs are among the most predominant liability issues for bars and bartenders. The closer in time the DWI occurred to the intoxicated customer leaving the bar, the easier it will be for our New York personal injury attorneys to establish liability on the bartender’s part.

Bar fights are also fairly common, and alcohol tends to act as a catalyst for violent outbursts. Perhaps you were having a drink in a bar while another customer was illegally overserved alcohol. As the other customer became more intoxicated, they became angrier. Instead of cutting them off, the bartender continued to serve drinks until the customer started a fight and injured you. In such a case, you can sue the bartender for your injuries caused by the other customer.

Call Our New York Personal Injury Attorneys for Help

If you were injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated bar patron, our New York personal injury attorneys can help you hold them and the bartender that served them liable. Call The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083 for a free review of your potential lawsuit.