OVER SERVED BY BAR – CAN I SUE? – MN LAWYER
Our personal injury attorneys have had several recent cases where a bar over-served a customer, and then the customer seriously hurt himself in a car accident. We have had many calls from people over-served and injured after leaving a bar who ask, “what are my rights?” Unfortunately, the customer cannot sue the bar after they injure their self from drinking too much (because he or she chose to have all those drinks). But their family members may have a claim against the bar.
When a drunk driver causes an injury in Minnesota, to someone else or himself, the bar can correctly say it was the customer’s choice to drink, and the bar was certainly not the one driving the car that caused the crash.
So why should the bar be responsible for injuries caused by the drunk driver’s negligence? The answer is because the Minnesota Legislature passed a law called the Civil Damages Act that says so. The purpose of Minnesota’s Civil Damages Act / Dram Shop law is to (1) protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public through careful regulation of liquor distribution, (2) to penalize vendors for the illegal sale of liquor, and (3) to provide a remedy for innocent third persons injured as a result of another’s intoxication.
The legislature recognized that, as people drink at a bar, they often don’t realize when they have had too much. As they get more drunk, they simply don’t care because their judgment becomes impaired. The results can be devastating when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel of their vehicle and injures someone in a car crash, or is injured themselves. The legislature therefore concluded that the bar or liquor store needs incentive to not over-serve their customers, and the incentive is that bars and liquor stores are held partially responsible if a customer they overserve hurts someone.
If the drunk driver is the one who is hurt, he does not personally have a claim against the bar, but his family might. Our lawyers have had several calls where the overserved person has been so badly injured that his family will now have to take care of him for the rest of their lives. Family members will have to miss or reduce work, and spend money to support the injured drunk driver because he can no longer work to support himself. MN law allows the family members to bring a claim against the bar in that situation, because the family members have a serious loss and because the legislature wants bars and liquor stores to have an incentive not to over serve their customers.
These cases against a bar or liquor store are very difficult to prove. To bring a claim against a bar or liquor store in Minnesota, you have to prove that the drunk person actually drank there and that the bar continued to serve him after he was obviously intoxicated. It is not enough that the drunk driver’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, he/she has to have been served after he was visibly drunk and the bar should have known it and cut him off. This type of proof requires significant investigation, and hopefully several witnesses.
If you or a family member are injured after being hit by a drunk driver, or you find yourself having to care for a family member who is injured from being over-served at a bar, call us as soon as possible after the accident and speak with an attorney. We have an excellent investigator and we will get started right away.
Pam Rochlin is one of Minnesota’s few women personal injury Super Lawyers and was formerly a partner at Meshbesher and Spence. We have over 25 years’ experience successfully handling hundreds of accident injury cases, including dram shop injured by drunk driver and injuries at bars. An attorney will provide you with a free initial consultation, and we always only charge based on a percentage of what you receive in compensation.
We have big firm experience but provide small firm attention. We have offices in Minneapolis, Edina, Woodbury, and St. Louis Park. A lawyer will also meet people at their homes to discuss a drunk driver injury in many surrounding cities including St. Paul, Roseville, White Bear Lake, Forest Lake, Shoreview, Maplewood, etc.