Is over-serving alcohol considered personal injury?

The short answer is ‘yes.’ Over-serving alcohol is serving alcohol to an individual who is clearly already intoxicated or who a person should reasonably believe is intoxicated. There are laws against this type of behavior intended to protect people who might not be in a good state of mind when they are out drinking. It creates a burden of responsibility on restaurant and bar owners to ensure that no one is drinking too much. In this article, I will explore a tragic instance of over-serving and why it is considered personal injury.

Very recently, three young men were involved in a car accident after drinking at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, they all perished and the restaurant owner who served them alcohol is being charged with over-serving. The problem with charges like these is that there is no clear bright line that indicates when someone is intoxicated. Some people have higher alcohol tolerances than others, regardless of their size, sex or age. Moreover, some people are better at hiding intoxication than others. My argument isn’t that you can’t know when someone has clearly had too much; with some people, you can tell. My argument is that you can’t always know when someone has had too much; with some people, you just cannot tell. Everyone has a personal responsibility to ensure that they are being healthy and making good choices. The restaurant owner did not ask the young men to enter his restaurant, nor did he force the men to drink, nor did he insist that they drive their own vehicle under the influence. Each of these things the men decided autonomously. Nevertheless, likely due to the tragic outcome of the night, the restaurant owner is liable to be charged with personal injury.

Why does over-serving qualify as a personal injury?

Over-serving alcohol usually isn’t considered personal injury in itself. The only time the charge is actually incited is when over-serving leads to some type of physical accident or injury. In this way, over-serving alcohol can arguably be considered as a partial or whole contributor to a personal injury and can demand legal ramifications. The laws that encompass these instances are referred to as “dram shop” or “liquor liability” laws. Under them, one can effectively sue for any damages incurred from an alcohol-related personal injury. Clawson and Staubes explain the requirements that must be met for a case to be made for personal injury. First, it must be proved that the establishment actually served the alcohol. Next, it must be proved that alcohol continued to be served to the patron even when they were visibly intoxicated or if the bartender had a reasonable belief to think that they were intoxicated based on the number and types of drinks they were serving. Alcohol establishments found guilty of charges of over-serving alcohol can be subject to fines and revocation of liquor licenses.

If you believe that you were over-served alcohol and that contributed to your personal injury, you should contact a lawyer.

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