Assaults and Liquor Laws: Who Is Liable?
All business managers are responsible for the safety of their customers, but establishments that serve alcohol have an extra responsibility that many other businesses do not experience. That responsibility arises with problems of unruly customers who have difficulty tolerating alcohol and acting aggressively in certain situations.
Altercations are relatively common in some locations, especially in venues where food is not a primary component of business, and security is a serious issue for these places. State legislatures understand this particular circumstance for citizens, having enacted dram shop laws that allow injured parties to file legal claims against the business establishment when being assaulted in a club if it can be proven management was negligent in over-serving the aggressor.
Dram Shop Laws and Assaults
All places that serve alcohol are required to monitor their crowd at all times and identify those who have consumed too much alcohol. Even those exhibiting good behavior should be denied service if they are obviously intoxicated. In addition, those who are intoxicated at the time they arrive should be denied service as well, including retail alcohol operations.
All workers are trained in the signs of over-intoxication, and they are responsible for other customers who could experience altercations with potential aggressors. Those establishments who still serve intoxicated customers could be held liable if that individual assaults another patron either at the bar or even later, if the bar overserved the assaulant.
One of the primary problems with assault cases in bars is that the aggressor usually does not have personal insurance to cover their actions. Damages assigned to the acting respondent can be difficult to collect. However, all businesses will carry liability insurance in some form. This means that the potential for whole damage recovery is much better when a dram shop claim can apply, which should be enough to cover medical bills, lost wages when they apply, and general damages for pain-and-suffering for the duration of the injuries.
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Proving these cases in court can be a difficult legal task because much of the evidence beyond medical records will be witness testimony. Business employees will typically be determined to protect the business and themselves when the cases are being aired in court or negotiated beforehand.
This means that time is of the essence for the plaintiff attorney who needs to locate witnesses willing to testify. Plus, these cases are almost always strongly defended even when the primary aggressor is being sued as well. Competing versions of events are common, and a jury will typically have to decide the final outcome. Dram shop cases are always complicated legal affairs that require an experienced personal injury attorney who understands what to expect in terms of a defense from the respondent litigants.
Don’t attempt to handle a liquor liability case on your own. For a free consultation, contact our personal injury attorneys at (215) 608-2183 to discuss your case.