A 19-year-old who had allegedly been drinking in a bar for a total of 6 hours was involved in a fatal auto accident in Houston, Texas. The inebriated driver crashed head-on to the victim’s vehicle. The victim-the driver of the vehicle that was impacted-was unfortunately killed. As mentioned, the driver that caused the accident was only 19-years-old. However, authorities found a fake I.D. in the vehicle, a false identification which he used to get dangerously drunk at the bar prior to the fatal accident. A few days after the fatal accident, at least 5 employees that were working while the 19-year-old male was drinking at the bar were arrested facing a number of charges. This incident, along with the arrests of the bar employees (including bartenders, servers, and managers), has raised many questions-especially questions about the duty of care that bar owners, bar managers, and bar staff have to their patrons and society as a whole.
The Duty of CareBars and other establishments that sell and serve alcohol have a duty of care towards their patrons. Besides the general duty of care to keep patrons safe while on their premises, these establishments also have the duty to stop serving patrons when they are visible intoxicated or close to being intoxicated. Unfortunately, many establishments and employees at these establishments fail to practice their duty of care. They serve parties that are clearly intoxicated, creating life-threatening hazards to unsuspecting victims.
Dram Shop Act LiabilityWhat is dram shop act liability? Dram shop act liability makes businesses (that sell and serve alcohol) that serve alcohol to parties that are obviously intoxicated strictly liable for all the harm caused by the intoxicated party. Based on dram shop act liability, the establishment that continued to serve the intoxicated 19-year-old male who caused a fatal accident would be liable for the death of the victim. Most of the states in the country have some sort of laws that implement dram shop liability. Since the incident discussed above occurred in Texas-a state with dram shop laws-the establishment could be held liable for the victim’s death. If the incident discussed above had happened in California, would dram shop act liability still apply? In California, dram shop law is limited. California has reversed many laws that would make businesses that sell and serve alcohol liable for the damages caused by intoxicated patrons. Although California recently tailored strict liability based on dram shop law, there is one exception that would apply if an incident like the one described above were to happen within the Californian state. According to California law, adults who serve intoxicated parties under the legal drinking age could be held liable for the injuries and other damages caused by the intoxicated underaged party. What does this mean? If the incident had occurred in California, the establishment would be held accountable for the harm caused by the intoxicated19-year-old. However, if the intoxicated party had been 21 or older, the establishment would not be held liable for any damages. For more information about dram shop liability and how it could apply to your claim, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
The Dangers of Serving Parties Who Are Already IntoxicatedBar personnel should never continue serving patrons who appear to be intoxicated. Bar personnel must remain vigilant to prevent serving alcohol to those who should no longer drink. When someone who is already intoxicated continues to drink, many dangers could arise. As seen in the incident described above, the 19-year-old male who was consistently served alcohol even though he was already intoxicated left the bar, got in his vehicle, and caused a fatal accident. Without a doubt, serving parties who are already intoxicated could lead to serious harm. Intoxicated parties could cause devastating auto accidents or even assault unsuspecting victims. If you or a member of your family suffered any type of harm after someone who was dangerously intoxicated (after being excessively served alcohol in a bar or similar establishment), you and your family might have grounds to pursue a claim against the liable establishment. If you would like to learn more about your right to pursue a claim and receive compensation, do not hesitate to contact Downtown L.A. Law Group as soon as possible.
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