Massachusetts law prohibits vendors such as bars and restaurants from serving or selling alcohol to an “intoxicated person” (Mass. Gen. Laws, c. 138, s. 69). If a vendor serves someone who is visibly intoxicated, the vendor can be held liable for negligence in a civil action for injuries subsequently caused by the intoxicated person. These are known as “liquor law” laws. They allow the victim of a drunk driver to sue a licensed liquor establishment for injuries, property damage, lost wages, and any other damages.
Liquor law laws impose a burden on drinking establishments and staff not to serve intoxicated patrons or allow patrons to become intoxicated. Massachusetts further requires that liquor providers have at least $250,000 in liability coverage for each person harmed. Most carry $1,000,000 in coverage.
Drunk driving remains a big problem in the Commonwealth. But, thanks to the legislature and the courts, a drunk driver’s insurance policy is no longer the only source of compensation for these victims. The hard part in some cases is proving that a bartender, for example, knew or should have known that he/she was serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. Liability may hinge on a critical eyewitness or video footage.
Liquor liability also arises in the “social host” setting, such as a house party or other hosted social gathering or function. In certain circumstances, Massachusetts courts have held a social host liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated guest if the host served alcohol to an already-drunk guest or made it available to him/her.
Finally, lawyers may also seek damages based on “common law” negligence. Such a case requires proof that the drunk driver acted unreasonably and without due care, causing injury and other damages.
If you or a loved one was injured by a drunk driver, let us investigate the circumstances leading up to the accident. If we discover that the driver had attended a drinking establishment or private party before the crash, we will pursue any evidence of liquor law law violations. Even if there is not sufficient evidence of such violations, we will file a claim for damages with the driver’s insurance carrier and pursue any other potential source of compensation, as we do in any motor vehicle negligence case.
Call us at 617-544-0987 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.