Drunk driving accidents or assaults committed by someone who was intoxicated happen more often than they should, and the holidays are high time for this kind of crime. If you have been affected by the negligence of someone being under the influence of alcohol, you are just one of many. According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, four in ten criminal offenders were found with alcohol in their system.
Who Is Liable In Negligent Alcohol Cases?
In negligent alcohol cases, there is the party that committed the crime and a third party who supplied the alcohol who is liable for damages. That may be a restaurant or club that continued to serve a customer well past the point of intoxication. Over-serving alcohol to impaired individuals is the most common way that establishment owners get slapped with a negligent alcohol case. It may be tempting for a bar, restaurant or club server to over-pour drinks for regular customers because they think it’s a hospitable thing to do or something that will garner extra tips. But what they don’t realize is that by pouring their customer’s drinks they now become responsible for what that customer does on their way home.
Another way to be charged with negligent alcohol is to serve someone who is under the legal drinking age (21 years in the United States). Serving minors is easily avoidable with due diligence, yet it is the most common way for servers to get charged with negligent alcohol. This type of charge doesn’t just affect the server, either. In many cases, an establishment will have their liqour license revoked temporarily if they are caught serving minors. So, not only does the negligent alcohol charge affect the server but it will affect the bottom line for the owner and everyone else who works there.
A smart server will take the following steps to avoid a negligent alcohol charge:
- Check their customer’s ID-only accepting valid types of ID-if they look under 30
- Regularly check in with customers as they drink
- Recognize the signs of intoxication
- Stop serving the customer once they become intoxicated
- Call a cab for the customer the moment they are refused service
Attorneys who regularly work on negligent alcohol cases typically see the following scenarios:
- Serving alcohol to minors (under 21 years old)
- Failure to stop serving alcohol to intoxicated persons
- Over-serving customers
Social Hosting And Alcohol Negligence
Bars and restaurants aren’t the only ones that can get slapped with a negligent alcohol charge. Homeowners beware, the alcohol you serve at a holiday party or home event can put your criminal record at risk. For example, a teacher couple from California was recently found guilty of being social hosts to a house party that saw an estimated 70 minors, some of whom were so intoxicated they had to be taken to the hospital.
The laws state-to-state regarding social hosting differ, but in Pennsylvania hosts are not held responsible for a crime if the person who was drinking is 21 years old or older. Under the Dram Shop Liability Act of Pennsylvania, a social host is not responsible, even if they over serve the intoxicated person. If the crime is committed by someone under the legal drinking age, the host can be held accountable for negligence if they “knowingly serve” alcohol to the minor.
Pursuing A Lawsuit
If alcohol played a part in a crime against you or your family, your first step should be to call an experienced negligent alcohol case attorney. These cases, because of the multiple layers of liability, need to be unpacked by someone who has dealt with cases like it and know the nuances of the state laws in which the crime was committed. Don’t hesitate because you’re unsure of whether you need a lawyer or not. Legal council for negligent alcohol crimes is highly recommended.