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Liquor And Dram Shop Liability

Dram Shop Liability

Injuries and wrongful deaths stemming from a person being served too much alcohol can raise a dram shop liability claim. Dram shops are commercial establishments that sell alcohol, such as bars and restaurants. Dram shop claims concern the liability of bars, night clubs, liquor stores, restaurants, and other places serving or selling alcohol in excess to customers who later cause injury or death to other innocent third-parties or themselves. Most dram shop causes involve drunk driving, but they are not limited to operating under the influence claims.

If you or a loved one was injured or wrongfully killed by another person who was negligently served too much alcohol, call the Boston personal injury lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. at 617-225-2100 for a FREE consultation. The bar, restaurant, or nightclub where the excessive alcohol was served may be held liable, in whole or in part, for their negligence.

Dram Shop Liability 

For the most part, any seller or server of alcoholic beverages, including bars, restaurants, night clubs, sports stadiums, and even fraternities, are governed by Massachusetts state law, Ch. 138, Section 69. This law forbids alcohol being sold or given to intoxicated persons. In short, bartenders, wait staff, owners, managers, and others at these establishments must not serve alcohol to an already reasonably observable intoxicated person (i.e., slurring words, slow reaction time, other common signs). If an intoxicated person that caused a car crash was served alcohol by a particular establishment, then both the establishment and the driver can be held liable for the car accident

Owners are encouraged to provide training to their staff in order to determine what this limit is. An agency called Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, provides this training for workers at dram shops. When this professional training is provided, many dram shops can experience more lenient insurance requirements. 

Dram shop liability laws are under Massachusetts General Law c. 231, s. 60 J. This law requires that an affidavit is filed within 90 days along with the plaintiff’s complaint in dram shop lawsuits. The affidavit should illustrate that the complaint legitimately questions the shop’s liability. These affidavits usually rely on reliable factual information that shows the complaint satisfies the requirements for a dram shop lawsuit.

If you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a loved one due to an intoxicated person, you can seek compensation for damages from the dram shop’s insurance, as well as from the driver’s insurance coverage. Damages can include medical expenses, lost earnings, scarring and disability, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. In cases of wrongful death, damages can also include loss of companionship and loss of support.

Your attorney may suggest that you pursue a case under the Common Negligence Laws. Common Negligence Laws are meant to discourage negligent behavior. Negligence is refusing to take reasonable actions when a specific set of circumstances occurs. In alcohol related cases, the server or seller of the alcohol must follow specific procedures. When they aren’t followed, the server has acted negligently. Additionally, Social Host Laws are specific laws stating that social hosts or functions that provide alcohol can be held responsible for the actions of their guests, in cases where the alcohol was served improperly. This includes providing alcohol to guests that are clearly too intoxicated, or providing alcohol to minors. 

Minimum Insurance Requirements 

In 2010, a new law in Massachusetts was passed that requires establishments that serve alcohol, such as bars and restaurants, to carry liquor liability insurance. At a minimum, these establishments that serve alcohol must have $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident in coverage. Most places have higher policy limits, commonly $1 million, to assure a bar or restaurant has enough to pay a judgment following a dram shop liability case.

We Pursue Each And Every Avenue For Recovery 

In addition to dram shop liability, we hold any at-fault party liable, in part or in whole, for their negligent actions that caused injuries or wrongful death. For example, if a drunk driver was involved, we will also file a claim against the intoxicated driver's insurance, which will be at a minimum $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in coverage, and typically more. Depending on the circumstances of the case, we may also look to the negligent party's liability homeowner's insurance to compensate you for your damages.

Make no mistake about it — dram shop cases are complex and will be met with resistance from the defendant and their team of lawyers. If you or a loved one has been injured or wrongfully killed because of another person being negligently served too much alcohol, you need to retain the experienced and proven successful Boston personal injury attorneys at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. We have handled these cases for decades with a proven track record of success. Contact us today for a FREE consultation at 617-225-2100.

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