State Law Provides Remedies for Negligent Alcohol Service

Holiday parties have drawn to a close with the ushering-in of a new year.  Unfortunately, as is often the case following a festive season, an increase in alcohol-related accidents warrants renewed attention to pertinent liability laws.  

In New Jersey,  injured victims have recourse against intoxicated persons causing wilful or negligent harm or injury to others. State law also provides remedies against tavern owners and party hosts for negligent alcohol service.

If you have been injured in an incident caused by an intoxicated person, it is wise to seek counsel from an experienced New Jersey DUI alcohol injury attorney.  Even if your injury did not result from a DUI crash, but rather from another alcohol-related incident, an experienced DUI injury attorney can review your case to determine who may be legally liable for damages. 

Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws in New Jersey

Dram Shop and Social Host laws establish similar care of duty between commercial bartenders and private party hosts. 

  • The Dram Shop Law provides that any bar or restaurant selling or serving alcohol to someone who later causes an alcohol-related accident may be accountable and subject to legal action in certain circumstances. 

Section 2A:22A-5 of the New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act defines five criteria that open a restaurant or tavern owner to liability for damages in alcohol-related incidents:

  1. The server served a visibly intoxicated person. 
  2. The server served a minor under circumstances where the server knew or reasonably should have known, that the person served was a minor.
  3. The negligent service of alcoholic beverages proximately caused injury or damage.
  4. The injury or damage was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages.
  5. The server is found negligent, under criteria 1 and 2 listed above.                    

For a New Jersey tavern or restaurant to be found negligent under the Dram Shop law, a server from the establishment must have served alcohol to the intoxicated person who caused the accident. This is a key factor in Dram Shop cases and a vital distinction against New Jersey’s Social Host law. 

  • The Social Host Law defines liability for social hosts whose guests become inebriated at the host’s home or gathering place. The host may be held accountable for an intoxicated guest’s behavior whether or not the host actually served or provided alcohol to the intoxicated party.

A social host is vulnerable to legal action if they are found negligent of one or more of the following:

  1. Wilfully and knowingly providing alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. 
  2. Providing alcohol “under circumstances manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences.” whereas such circumstances led to an unreasonable risk of harm for either individuals or property.
  3. If injury or damage resulting from an accident where a vehicle was operated by an intoxicated person having left a host’s home after the person had been provided with alcohol at the party.

If a person hosts a party in New Jersey, they assume responsibility for monitoring their guests’ intoxication and avoiding foreseeable accidents resulting from that intoxication. The host may be liable if they provide the alcohol, if the alcohol is self-serve, or even if the guests bring their own alcohol.

How a New Jersey DUI Injury Attorney Can Help You

New Jersey laws provide remedies for negligent alcohol service under certain circumstances.  

As afforded by the Dram Shop and Social Host laws, victims of alcohol-related accidents may be entitled to damages from those who serve or provide alcohol to a person who later causes an alcohol-related accident. 

Medical costs, lost wages, rehabilitative services, and pain and suffering may all be recoverable. Don’t let valuable time and resources slip away. 

Contact our office to speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI Injury attorney today. After a thorough case review, we will advise you regarding liable parties and your best options for getting the compensation you deserve.