Dram shop liability law in New Jersey allows those injured by an intoxicated person to sue the premises who over-served that person for damages and compensation. Dram Shop law is designed to protect innocent victims from over-serving of patrons at private parties, bars, restaurants, or other licensed premises. Sometimes, however, the licensed premises can dispute their liability using defenses that show that they did their best to comply with liability laws. Here are some common dram shop liability defenses.
Common Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Here are two of the most commonly utilized dram shop liability defenses in New Jersey:
Safe Harbor Defense
One of the most commonly cited defenses for dram shop liability defenses in the State of New Jersey is that of “safe harbor”. The vast majority of licensed premises in New Jersey are law-abiding and do their utmost to obey dram shop laws and protect clientele from overserving. The rationale of this defense is that licensees who are habitual offenders should be punished, and not those who genuinely made a one-off mistake.
The safe harbor defense is used by the premises subject to a dram shop liability case to admit fault in a particular instance, but to ask for clemency as this was an isolated event. This strategy involves detailing the steps the premises normally takes to reduce their liability risks and explaining how a mistake happened in this instance.
Another commonly utilized defense for New Jersey dram shop liability cases is the “proximity defense”. Dram shop liability cases hinge on the prosecution successfully argued that the:
- The last place the intoxicated person drank was the premises in question.
- The server over-served the intoxicated person when he was obviously intoxicated.
- The intoxicated person’s intoxication was the “proximate” or cause of the injuries suffered.
The key for the proximity defense is the defense proving that the accident or injuries caused by the intoxicated individual cannot be proven to have been a direct result of the over-serving of said individual. The proximate defense is effective, as it casts doubt on whether or not the over-intoxication was the cause of the injuries, thus calling into question the liability of the premises for the damages.
If You Believe You May Be Liable for an Accident, Call DeZao Law Today
Because the particular circumstances of each dram shop liability case are unique, you should contact an experienced New Jersey dram shop liability attorney to discuss which defenses may work best for your case.
If an intoxicated driver injures someone in a crash, they may be able to claim compensation, not only from the intoxicated driver but also from whoever provided them more alcohol than they should have. If you fear you may be subject to a dram shop liability lawsuit because someone was injured at the hands of a customer at your establishment, seek expert legal guidance right away. Speak with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney today at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. Our firm provides dram shop law services and is here to assist you with your case. Call us at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation.