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Defining dram shop laws

Many of the Lakewood residents who come to see us here at Escandon, Fernicola, Anderson, and Covelli are facing enormous medical expenses stemming from serious accidents. When those accidents are caused by a drunk driver, victims often question how far liability extends to other parties who may have been involved. While most may assume that responsibility begins and ends with the one who chose to drive while impaired, there are certain scenarios where those who helped him or her reach an intoxicated state may deemed to be liable, as well. We’ll examine those instances in this post.

Dram shop laws refer to the legal guidelines that assign liability to bars, restaurants, or taverns who served alcohol to people who then allegedly drove drunk and caused accidents. First party dram shop laws apply to people who drank and were then themselves injured. Third party dram shop laws are meant to protect those who were injured by drunk drivers.

According to N.J. Rev. Stat. §2A:22A-4 as shared by the National Conference of State Legislatures, establishments licensed to serve alcohol may be held liable for damages in a drunk driving case in the following scenarios:

  •          The resultant injuries or damages was caused by the negligent service of alcohol
  •          An accident was the foreseeable consequence of that negligent service
  •          The server knowingly served alcohol to a minor or continued to provide drinks to one already visibly intoxicated

The statute of limitations for bringing a dram shop complaint against an establishment is typically the same as it is for initiating other personal injury claims.

For more information on dealing with accidents caused by a drunk driver, visit our Drunk Driving Accidents page. 

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