It’s interesting that a law with such an archaic name could have such relevance in today’s society. A “dram shop” was an 18th Century British pub that sold gin by the dram (or spoonful). Today, Dram Shop Laws refer to guidelines for holding bars and other liquor-serving establishments responsible for serving people who drive drunk after leaving their place of business.
Essentially, New Jersey law permits the family of someone injured or killed by an intoxicated customer to sue not only the drunk driver who committed the negligent act but also the alcohol vendor that served him.
Proving fault in a dram shop case can be difficult. The bartender or bar’s lawyers will argue that there was no way to truly know the patron was too drunk to drive. After all, every person metabolizes alcohol differently. One person might have started to drink a full stomach, the other hadn’t eaten for hours. How would the bartender know? Further, if the patron says he or she is not driving, how can they really know if they get behind the wheel of a car once they leave the bar?
While this is an extremely complicated area of the law, an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can make a case after thoroughly investigating what happened. Of course, all bartenders and bouncers at establishments that serve liquor should be on the lookout for any patrons who were clearly acting so intoxicated that it should have been obvious that they would be a danger to themselves and others if permitted to leave the establishment.
If you or someone you love was injured, or worse, in a drunk driving accident, contact Lombardi and Lombardi right away for a free consultation in your case. We will fight for maximum compensation and will get you the justice your family needs, wants and deserves.