Can I Sue a Bar Following an Alcohol-Related Accident?


Dram shop laws are statutes that enforce liability on alcoholic beverage sellers for the careless acts of their drunk customers. Most legislatures have passed a version of the dram shop law.

But before these forms of laws were passed, in general, courts prohibited cases against sellers of alcoholic beverages like restaurants, bars, or liquor shops. The argument stated that the alcohol serving didn’t actually result in the plaintiff’s injuries.

(Moreover, a historical note: the term “Dram shop” laws are named so since alcohol used to be vented by a measuring unit known as “dram.”)

In this article, we will talk about the various forms of dram shop lawsuits, and key legal problems that are frequently triggered by these forms of civil claims following an alcohol-related accident.

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What’s a “Dram Shop” Case?

Essentially, a dram shop lawsuit is a case against a liquor store, restaurant, bar, or any other form of business that vends alcoholic drinks. The liability of these establishments in these kinds of lawsuits is varied according to the fact that somebody was served way too much alcohol.

There are two kinds of dram shop lawsuits; we have what we call “first party” dram shop lawsuits as well as what we call “third party” dram shop lawsuits. With the warning that the majority of states do not permit “first party” dram shop lawsuits, let us look at these two kinds of cases in more detail.

First Party Dram Shop Cases

First party dram shop cases are cases where it’s the intoxicated individual who got injured and is suing the restaurant or bar for serving him or her way too much alcohol. As stated before, a few states do not allow these types of cases — probably because individuals ought to be personally liable for the amount of liquor they drink.


Other states ban adults from filing first party dram shop claims while minors are still permitted to file them. The logic is that underage persons are not permitted to drink alcohol in legal terms, therefore, if an underage was drinking alcohol, somebody broke the law.

On the other hand, just because the first party dram shop claims might be permitted in a certain state doesn’t necessarily indicate that they’re worth bringing, particularly by an adult. These lawsuits are extremely difficult to win as it is very difficult to persuade a jury that they ought to give an adult cash because he or she went out, got too drunk, and got injured.

Third Party Dram Shop

A “third party” dram shop lawsuit is when the drunk person injures somebody else. An example of such a case is when somebody gets intoxicated at a restaurant or bar and gets into a vehicle collision, and the person injured by the driver brings a case against the restaurant or bar (in this case, the business establishment is called the “third party”).

Most states permit “third party” dram shop lawsuits, but most states vary on what the harmed person has to prove.