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Can Bars Be Held Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents in New Jersey?

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If you’ve suffered a major car accident involving a drunk driver, then you may be considering a lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries. While many injured motorists choose to sue the drunk driver, in some states you may actually be able to serve the bar that served them too much alcohol. However, because proving the liability of an establishment can be difficult, and since these laws are very limited, it’s important you do your research before filing a case.

Learn more about dram shop laws and why you may be able to sue a bar after you’ve been hit by a drunk driver with the help of a New Jersey car accident attorney.

The Basics of Dram Shop Cases

If a bar or restaurant has served a customer to the point of intoxication, and that customer then caused a drunk driving accident, then the bar or restaurant may be legally liable under what’s known as ‘dram shop’ laws. Dram shop laws apply to any establishment that serves alcohol, including liquor stores, restaurants, and bars.

There are many reasons that a person could choose to bring a dram shop suit against an establishment, but the primary factor has to do with compensation. Frequently, drunk drivers don’t have insurance, limiting potential damages after a successful lawsuit and making a suit against the serving establishment a better option.

First Party and Third Party Differences

When learning about dram shop personal injury suits, it’s important to understand that these cases are separated into two categories: First party and third party. Looking at each case more closely will help you to decide which is applicable in your accident.

First party dram shop cases are brought by the drunk driver themselves. These cases almost always involve a single car accident where the drunk driver was the only person to suffer injury. While first party cases are not impossible to win, they can be very difficult, as adults are generally held legally responsible for their own actions.

The more common type of dram shop case is a third-party suit. In a third-party case, you—the third party—will bring a suit against after being struck by a drunk driver who was served too much alcohol by a bar or restaurant. Before you will be able to win your suit, however, you will need to prove without a doubt that the establishment was responsible for your accident.

Establishing Liability

Winning a dram shop case, whether first party or third party, depends on proving the negligence of the serving establishment. For the purposes of a dram shop case, negligence is usually gauged in two ways, recklessness or intentional action.

Recklessness is the most common form of negligent action in a dram shop case. If you’re trying to prove recklessness, you would have to show that the bar or restaurant engaged in actions like serving a clearly intoxicated person, served alcohol to a minor or ignored warning signs that serving alcohol to a customer posed a threat to the public.

Although limited, some states also examine intentional acts in dram shop cases. With intentional acts, the serving establishment continued to give a customer drinks if though they knew it was dangerous or illegal. For example, knowingly serving drinks to an alcoholic or someone who is obviously a minor.

Proving negligence in any personal injury case can be tough, which is why it’s important for you to consult a car accident attorney while you’re planning your case.

Hire a Car Accident Attorney if You’ve Been Hit by a Drunk Driver

If you’ve been struck by a drunk driver and are considering a dram shop case, then you need advice from an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney from The Law Offices of Peter N. Davis and Associates. One of our dedicated attorneys can help you build a strong dram shop case so that you get the compensation that you deserve.