Court Holds that Drunk Drivers Have Standing to Sue Liquor Establishments

A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that liquor establishments are not sheltered by a state law that prohibits drunk drivers implicated in collisions from suing other parties for damages. According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the 1997 New Jersey drunk driving law provides that a driver convicted of a DUI in connection with an accident “shall have no cause of action for his or her injuries.” However, the appeals court has held that this law does not immunize liquor store establishments from liability if they serve intoxicated patrons and set them loose on the road.

More specifically, the court ruled that the 1997 law did not defeat New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act, which protects the rights of people who suffer damages as a consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by licensed servers. This decision is believed to be the first by a state appeals court to expressly deprive licensed liquor establishments of immunity in such cases.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in which alcohol consumption was a contributing factor, you may be entitled to compensation from a negligent server or liquor establishment proprietor. You will need to speak with an experienced New Jersey accident attorney who can help you evaluate the potential liability of third parties under the Dram Shop Act. Dram shop liability refers to the responsibility of a bar, restaurant or other business that provides alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or a minor who then causes injury to another. If you believe that you may have a claim under New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act, call (609) 240-0040 to speak with one of the thorough and aggressive New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein.