Members of the general public are largely aware of the illegality of drunk driving. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable for people to expect that they could hold an impaired motorist personally accountable for causing a crash. People who get behind the wheel after drinking have personal responsibility for any harm they cause to others.
Those affected by drunk driving collisions can sometimes file insurance claims. Most New Jersey drivers have at least basic liability coverage that can compensate those involved in a crash. Other times, the people harmed might be in a position to file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver who caused the crash.
However, there are an assortment of scenarios in which insurance or a basic lawsuit might not be adequate. Perhaps the drunk driver died or faces a lengthy stay in prison that would prohibit them from compensating the people affected by the crash. It is sometimes possible to hold a bar or restaurant responsible for an impaired driving crash. When is a business liable for the actions of one of its patrons?
When the business violates state statutes
Every business that wants to serve alcohol to patrons for immediate consumption needs to secure a special license from the state. The business must adhere to state law and train its employees on how to do the same. New Jersey has numerous regulations outlining the rules for alcohol service. Businesses generally need to follow those rules or risk losing their license to serve liquor to the public. Infractions that result in injuries can also lead to financial and legal liability for a licensed bar or restaurant under New Jersey’s dram shop law.
There are generally two scenarios in which people hurt in car crashes might have grounds to take legal action against a bar or restaurant. The first is when the business served alcohol to a minor. The second is when staff members continued serving alcohol to someone visibly intoxicated. In both of those situations, the business may have some financial liability for the losses triggered when a drunk patron left the business and went on to cause a crash that injured others.
Understanding the rules that apply to dram shop lawsuits in New Jersey may help people pursue economic justice effectively after a crash caused by a drunk driver.