First-Party vs. Third-Party Dram Shop Liability: What’s the Difference?

Operating a nightclub, restaurant, bar, or any other social establishment means strictly adhering to New Jersey’s liquor licensing laws. These establishments, also known as dram shops, are required to avoid over-serving patrons or providing alcohol to minors. When accidents or injuries occur as a result of their negligent behavior, dram shop liability cases may be filed to seek compensation for their failings. These liability cases can be either first or third-party liability claims. First-party versus third-party dram shop liability: what’s the difference?

Who is a Third-Party in a Dram Shop Liability Case?

Third-party dram shop liability applies to those who are injured by a drunk individual. Under New Jersey state law, the injured party would be able to sue the premises, or social host who provided the drunk driver the alcohol, were they over-served. Specifically, the law states that the individual who was served alcohol must have been “visibly intoxicated” when they were served, or the dram shop must have had credible reason to know the individual was under 21 years of age. Should either of these be true, state law places some of the responsibility on the dram shop.

What is First-Party Dram Shop Liability?

Under New Jersey Dram Shop law, a first-party dram shop case is any case where the injured party is the individual who was over-served the alcohol. First-party dram shop liability cases tend to be much more difficult to prove than third-party liability cases, as juries tend to side with the licensed premises or social host. The reasoning for this is that many juries find that individuals injured as a result of being over-served should be held responsible for their actions.

The one area where first-person dram shop liability cases are often successful, however, is in the case of underage drinking – particularly at bars or other licensed premises.

Holding Bars & Restaurants Accountable for Accidents or Injuries

Because of their liability under New Jersey law, the success or failure of any dram shop case, whether it be first or third-person, is establishing the negligence of the premises or host in question. To help facilitate any claim against a negligent establishment, you should consult with an experienced and determined New Jersey dram shop law attorney.

If a drunk driver injures someone in an accident, they may be able to claim compensation – not only from the driver but also from whoever provided them with more alcohol than they should have. If you are the victim of dram shop negligence, 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 are here to assist you with your case. Call us at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation.