Injured by a Drunk Driver?
We all know that drunk drivers take lives when they take to the road. But what about the bar that kept serving that driver alcohol after they were clearly intoxicated, or the liquor store that sold them a case of beer when they were visibly drunk?
In the interest of public safety, many states have laws that bar businesses from serving alcohol to an intoxicated individual, and Massachusetts is no exception: M.G.L. c.138 § 69 states that “no alcoholic beverage shall be sold or delivered on any premises to an intoxicated person.”
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver or other intoxicated person after an establishment violated this law and served them alcohol, you may have a liquor liability claim against the establishment as well as a personal injury claim against the person that injured you. At the Law Offices of George A. Malliaros, we have experience in handling liquor liability cases and we can help you hold alcohol sellers responsible for any negligent actions that led to your injuries.
What’s a “Dram Shop”?
The area of the law that deals with liability for businesses that sell alcohol has an unusual name — it’s called “dram shop liability,” and the laws that hold these businesses accountable are called “dram shop acts.”
“Dram shop” (or “dramshop”) is an old British legal term for a bar, nightclub, or other establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold. The name refers to the fact that these businesses used to measure and sell alcohol not by ounces or milliliters, but by an older unit called the dram.
The term “dram shop” first appeared in 1725 and fell out of popular American usage by the early 20th century — so the fact that we still use it in law practice today gives you an idea of how long dram shop laws have been in place to hold alcohol sellers responsible for the actions of their intoxicated customers.
Dram shop laws apply to all manner of businesses that sell alcoholic products and beverages, including:
- Country clubs
- Sports and entertainment venues (such as stadiums and concert halls)
- Liquor stores
- Fraternity organizations that have a liquor license
If any of these types of establishments — or any other business that sells or serves alcoholic beverages — served an individual whose intoxicated actions led to your injury, you should speak with an experienced liquor liability attorney to find out whether you have a valid claim.
Serving Alcohol Comes with Responsibilities
Besides forbidding establishments from serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons, Massachusetts General Laws Ch.138 § 69 states that owners and employees have a responsibility to monitor the behavior of all persons who are served alcohol at their establishment and must look for signs of intoxication.
This important statute means that an establishment is required by law to make an effort to figure out whether they might be over-serving intoxicated patrons — they can’t necessarily plead innocence and claim they “didn’t know” the person was drunk, since the law makes it their responsibility to know.
Massachusetts law also requires bar and restaurant owners to carry liquor liability insurance at minimum coverage levels of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. This statute prevents a possible situation where an injured plaintiff wins a lawsuit against a bar or restaurant owner in a dram shop liability case but the bar owner has neither liability insurance nor enough cash or assets to pay the damages.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Contact George A. Malliaros
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a drunk driver or other intoxicated person, call the Law Offices of George A. Malliaros right away at (978) 452-6641 or fill out our online contact form to speak with a personal injury attorney at no cost to you. You may have a liquor liability claim as well as a personal injury claim against the driver, and we have the experience needed to evaluate your case and handle both claims.
Your initial consultation with us will cost you nothing and we handle personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we achieve a monetary award or settlement on your behalf — so there’s no risk to calling us right away.
Even if you have a valid claim, you won’t be able to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, so please don’t delay — contact our offices and schedule your free consultation today.