Handling Dram Shop Cases Throughout New England
Massachusetts and other jurisdictions have special laws that apply to cases involving accidents following the service of alcohol by restaurants and bars, resorts, retailers, distributors, and social hosts. Our attorneys have years of experience handling these types of cases and are keenly aware of the complicated risks faced by our clients.
Melick & Porter, LLP is able to quickly and efficiently recognize the key issues presented by the unique circumstances in each case and we work with our clients to develop a plan towards resolution. Our liquor liability lawyers understand that promptly securing evidence, locating witnesses, and working with experienced experts, greatly enhances the opportunities for success.
What is a Dram Shop?
A dram shop is another name for a bar or establishment where alcoholic beverages are served. Also known as liquor liability, dram shop liability refers to the allowance of claims to be brought against bars, taverns, or other businesses that serve alcohol. All have states have dram shop laws that can hold businesses responsible for alcohol-related accidents, such as DUI automobile accidents caused by intoxicated patrons.
Dram shop liability exists to provide accident victims with the additional compensation they may need to recover from their injuries. As individual insurance policies have limits that may not fully cover the damages victims have accrued. Motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol tend to be catastrophic, as they involve speeding and delayed reactions that can cause serious injuries including burns, broken bones, spinal cord and neck injuries, head and brain trauma, internal bleeding, and death.
Types Of Dram Shop Cases
There are two main types of dram shop cases that businesses can face after an accident: first-party and third-party dram shop cases. A first-party dram shop case occurs when the person who suffers injuries in an accident is the individual who was served the alcoholic drinks. These cases are often difficult for the injured plaintiff to win, as juries are inclined to believe that the individual is responsible for any injuries the individual accrued as a result of their own actions.
However, juries in first-party dram shop cases involving minors are more inclined to place responsibility on the establishment that served the minor. A third-party dram shop case occurs when the person injured in the accident is someone other than the intoxicated individual. This case is often easier for the injured plaintiff to win. Establishing negligence often involves gathering evidence that shows that the bar or club continued to serve the individual while knowing they were intoxicated.
Common Defense Strategies
When your business or your insured’s business is facing a claim, it is important to know about the evidence the injured plaintiff may use against you. To prove your negligence, the plaintiff’s attorney may try to establish that the business served a patron without requesting to see the individual's ID, you served a patron who appeared to be intoxicated, or you served a patron after closing hours. Our team knows all the strategies opposing counsel will use to prove your negligence, but we have strategies of our own to defend you.
Two common dram shop defense strategies include:
- Showing that the driver is completely liable for the accident, not the business
- Showing that the business’ servers are certified and that the business has a record of following liquor license rules
It is our commitment to helping our clients in any complex situation they may find themselves in that has earned our lawyers the respect of our peers and others in the community. We do whatever it takes to achieve the best outcome for our clients.
Our liquor liability lawyers are available to listen to your story and help you when you call us at (617) 523-6200.
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