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New Jersey Dram Shop Lawyer

Did a Bar or Restaurant Overserve the Person Who Injured You?

It is estimated that drunk driving accidents end a life every 51 minutes, and nonlethal accidents occur even more frequently.

Most people are aware of the dangers posed by drunk drivers. However, many do not know that New Jersey law allows survivors of DUI accidents and their families to file a lawsuit against the driver and/or establishment that irresponsibly sold liquor to the other party.

If you are involved in an accident that was caused by an intoxicated person, our New Jersey dram shop attorney can help you file a claim for damages. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What is Dram Shop Liability?

The term “dram shop” dates back to 18th century England and refers to taverns that sold gin by the spoonful or “dram.” Today, dram shop or liquor liability laws allow injured parties to file claims against a bar or restaurant that sold or served alcohol to a person who later caused an accident due to being intoxicated. With these laws, the state aims to hold businesses responsible for the sale of alcohol as the aftermath can be devastating when an intoxicated person gets behind a wheel or causes an accident.

Dram shop laws, however, involve more than drunk driving accidents. For example, if a restaurant serves alcohol to a visibly drunk individual, and that individual then gets into a fight or starts an altercation on their way home from the restaurant, liability for the harm and damages that individual causes may be the shared all or in part by the restaurant.

Dram Shop Law in New Jersey

Dram shop liability is part of state law under New Jersey Statute 2A:22A, also called the New Jersey Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act. This civil statute states that a person who has been injured because of the actions of an intoxicated individual has the right to seek damages from the vendor who sold the substance if:

  • The server continued serving alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person.
  • The server served alcoholic beverages to a minor.
  • The injury and damage incurred were caused by the negligent serving of alcoholic beverages.
  • The injury and damage incurred was a foreseeable effect of the negligent serving of alcoholic beverages.

Social Host Liability in New Jersey

New Jersey also allows the injured person to seek damages from any social host who provided alcoholic beverages to an already intoxicated person in a party or a social gathering.

An injured person can seek damages from a social host if the social host gave alcoholic drinks to an intoxicated person that caused the accident. The following conditions must also be met:

  • The person was clearly and visibly intoxicated.
  • The alcoholic beverages were distributed recklessly and mindlessly.
  • The act created an unreasonable risk that can cause harm to the community.
  • The intoxicated person caused a vehicle accident coming from the party.

Does Comparative Negligence Affect Dram Shop Liability?

In New Jersey, dram shop liability is subject to the principles of comparative negligence. This means if fault for the drunk driving accident can be apportioned to multiple parties – for example, between the intoxicated driver and a bar – then damages will also be distributed to the extent that each party is found at fault. For instance, if a jury determines that a bar is only 50 percent at fault, it will only be liable for 50 percent of the damages suffered by a victim.

Over the last decade, courts in New Jersey have found numerous situations in which a bar should be held liable because an individual was determined to be intoxicated at the time that he or she was provided alcohol.

Commonly Sought Damages in NJ Dram Shop Cases

The injured person in a dram shop claim can file for personal injury damages against the alcohol vendor who negligently sold an already-intoxicated person more alcohol.

Hospital bills and other medical treatment

Most personal injury damages claims include the cost for medical care and other treatment incurred because of the accident in question. This includes medical care and treatment you have already received, as well as the estimated cost of the medical care you will need to get in the future because of the injuries caused by the accident in question.

Lost wages and other Income

Part of the compensation the injured will receive will cover lost salary and income because of the accident. This includes the salary you have already lost to the accident, and the salary you will not be able to earn in the future because of your injuries. This is referred to as the injured party’s loss of earning capacity.

Damaged property

If any property was lost or damaged due to the accident, the complainant will be compensated for his or her losses. Compensation will be based on the repair cost or the fair value market of the damaged property.

Pain and suffering endured by the plaintiff

Being involved in an accident which resulted in injuries can cause the victim to endure physical pain and suffering. You may be given compensation for this pain that you have endured during the accident and in the wake of its aftermath.

Emotional distress

The psychological and emotional impact brought about by the accident may be compensated as well. This can include episodes of anxiety, fear and sleep loss in the aftermath of the accident.

Household services and childcare the injured plaintiff could not perform.

Service fees for household and childcare services, which you cannot perform yourself because of your injuries, may also be compensated. Personal injury claims should be filed within two years of the date of the accident or the injury.

Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases in New Jersey

Punitive damages may be awarded to the injured victim, on top of the compensation for damages as discussed above. It may be awarded when the plaintiff can prove that the harm and injuries suffered were the results of the careless acts of the defendant.

The following shall be considered for the awarding of punitive damages:

  1. The chances that serious harm would result from the defendant’s actions;
  2. The knowledge and awareness of the defendant of the likelihood that serious harm will result from his conduct;
  3. The conduct of the defendant; and
  4. The duration of the conduct or any attempt by the defendant to hide it.

Seek Help From a New Jersey Dram Shop Lawyer

If a drunk driver injures someone in an accident, they may be able to claim compensation. And not only from the driver, but also from whoever provided them more alcohol than they should have. If you are the victim of dram shop negligence, seek expert legal guidance right away.

Trust in the Law Office of James C. DeZao, P.A. to treat your legal battles seriously and with utmost care. Our experienced and committed personal injury lawyers are at your disposal, no matter how extensive or serious your case may be. Call us today at (973) 358-6134.

  • Work Accident Case $2,000,000
  • Motor vehicle Accident $3,100,000
  • Drunk Driving Case $14,000,000
  • Drunk Driver Accident $14,100,000
  • Bus Accident $2,000,000

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