If an establishment serves alcohol on the premises, the restaurant, saloon, or bar is considered a dram shop. Under Arizona law, licensed dram shops can be held liable for harm caused by the dram shops’ intoxicated patrons or negligent staff members. Here are several ways bars and other dram shops get in trouble when serving alcohol.
Dram Shop Owners Fail to Protect Their Patrons
Charges of premises liability can occur when a dram-shop patron is injured in a licensed bar, lounge, or restaurant or within the dram shop’s property boundaries. If the dram-shop owner or staff failed to protect their patrons from harm while patrons are on the dram-shop premises, the owner or staff may be liable for lost wages, medical-related expenses and other costs related to their negligence.
Examples of premises liability cases include:
- Dram-shop staff serve an intoxicated person, who then drives home or elsewhere and crashes into someone, causing serious injuries or even death..
- Dram-shop staff serve an intoxicated person known to the staff for becoming violent when intoxicated, and the intoxicated person subsequently assaults another patron.
- Dram-shop staff serve an intoxicated person who subsequently sexually assaults another person while on your property.
If you’re injured by a drunk person, the restaurant or bar that overserved him/her is responsible. If a case is filed, the history of the bar/restaurant is investigated. Did staff routinely allow known violent individuals to bully the dram-shop patrons? Did a dram shop with a history of violent patron altercations have an ineffective or non-existent security team on the date when your injury occurred?
Have local law enforcement officers been repeatedly called to the dram shop to break up fights in the pool room or parking lot? Do the dram-shop owners and staff work with or against law enforcement to lower risks of harm to patrons?
Each of the above examples is evidence of a dram-shop’s failure to protect its patrons from exposure to harm. If you have a solid premises liability case against a dram shop, your personal injury attorney helps you gather data to prove the above types of negligence on the part of dram-shop owners.
Dram Shop Owners Allow Sales of Alcohol to Minors
When owners permit their servers to follow negligent alcohol service policies, legal trouble is bound to happen. For example, every dram shop should have strict identification (ID) requirements before admitting young people who want to purchase and consume alcohol.
If a teen drinker leaves a bar where he’s been consuming alcohol, then dies in a vehicle crash or kills others while under the influence of that same alcohol, the bar that knowingly served the alcohol to the teen can be charged with steep penalties, and is also responsible for the injuries. Claims of liability against a negligent dram shop can be made by family members of those killed by a teen driver.
Staff of all dram shops in Arizona must perform specific screening actions of IDs to defend themselves from charges of selling (or influencing sales) to persons under the legal drinking age. Arizona’s underage drinking law (Arizona Revised Statute 4-241) includes ID-check procedures for licensed alcohol-serving establishments that include the following safeguards:
- All persons who appear 27 years old or younger show valid ID on demand.
- All ID components are carefully examined for date-of-birth, validity, defacement, and alterations.
- All ID photos are carefully examined for likeness to ID holder.
Dram-Shop Owners Fail to Train Their Staff Properly
Dram-shop owners also face liability by failing to properly train their staff. Liability cases can be made against dram shops when the shops fail to train staff about state and local alcohol service laws and penalties. Bartenders and waitstaff should also be trained in responsible alcohol-serving methods, so the bartenders and wait staff can spot over-inebriated, violent, and medically fragile patrons.
If a dram shop fails to train staff about cutting off alcohol sales to intoxicated customers, an overly intoxicated customer may black out and cause a serious vehicle accident on their drunken drive home.
An overly intoxicated patron who continues to drink alcohol may become incoherent or unconscious behind the wheel or on the bar stool. An overly intoxicated person may start a fight and harm another patron after being served too much alcohol and then suddenly being denied a drink.
Your attorney can help secure video proof of untrained staff if a dram shop has surveillance cameras. Contact your attorney as soon as possible to preserve evidence of staff ignorance and neglect.
If you’ve been injured as an employee or a patron of a bar in Arizona, or you believe you have another liability case against a dram shop, contact Snyder & Wenner, P.C., immediately. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about your injury experience and explain all of your legal options.