Dram Shop Law in New Jersey

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver in New Jersey, not only may you file an auto insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, but you may also seek damages from the person who gave the alcohol to the intoxicated driver. Whether that person was a bartender or host of a private gathering, you may also hold these parties liable for your injuries. 

New Jersey Dram Shop Law 

According to New Jersey’s dram shop law, a person who suffered an injury in a drunk driving accident may sue a vendor who served alcohol to an intoxicated driver if the driver was “visibly intoxicated” when he/she was served. Additionally, if a vendor knew or reasonably should have known he/she was serving alcohol to a person under 21 years old. 

For example, let’s say a patron at a bar has difficulty walking or slurs his words while he speaks, but the bartender continues to serve him alcohol. When the patron finally leaves and drives off, he then crashes into another vehicle on his way home. The victim of the accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the bartender because the driver was visibly intoxicated before leaving the bar. 

When it comes to underage drivers, a vendor can be held liable for a crash caused by a person under 21 – even if the driver was not visibly impaired. Injured parties only need to prove that the vendor knowingly served an underage patron alcohol prior to the collision. 

Social Host Liability 

A social host of a private gathering can be held liable for a drunk driving accident if he/she saw that a guest was visibly intoxicated, failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk, and the guest then injures another person. It does not matter whether the host directly provides alcohol to guests or guests serve themselves. 

However, New Jersey law states that “intoxication” in such circumstances is often indicated by a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .15 percent, which is nearly double the legal limit. If a guest’s BAC is between .10 and .15 percent, a “rebuttable presumption” exists that the guest was not visibly intoxicated. 

If you were recently injured in a drunk driving accident in Woodbridge, contact Palmisano & Goodman, P.A. today at (732) 709-4400 for a free initial consultation. Our firm has secured millions of dollars on behalf of our clients! 

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