Serving alcohol to others comes with legal responsibilities. A person who negligently provides alcoholic beverages to another person could be held liable for any harm resulting from the individual's inebriation. Anyone suffering injuries in an alcohol-related accident should meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss the presence of third-party civil liabilities.

Understand Alcohol-Serving Laws Exist

There are laws on the books that define social host responsibilities. These laws, essentially, mandate that persons serving alcohol can be culpable in the event of an accident or tragedy. The reason is the server could be guilty of shared negligence. The legal question that arises here is "Was the person who served the alcohol at least partially responsible for an unfortunate outcome?"

If the answer is yes, a bartender, restaurant owner, or host of a party could be sued for any injuries, property damage, or even wrongful death resulting from an alcohol-related accident.

Serving an Intoxicated Person

Providing someone with alcohol should not be done without careful thought to legal consequences.

Anyone who walks into a bar highly intoxicated is not automatically guaranteed a right to be served. The employees or management of the bar can and should refuse service since the person's health is at risk. 

Consider the following scenario: a person is stumbling, slurring words, and acting belligerent and requests to be served. Not wanting to turn down a customer or a tip, the bartender chooses to sell the patron several several servings of hard alcohol. 

Later in the evening, the person collapses and dies from alcohol poisoning. The poor decision on the part of the bartender subsequently provides the basis for a negligence suit.

Ignoring a Highly Negligent Scenario

Negligence takes many forms. 

If an intoxicated customer makes it very clear he/she is going to drive home drunk, continually serving the person alcohol sets up a liability claim in the event of an accident. Refusing to serve the person any more alcohol, however, does not automatically absolve the bar of responsibility if no attempts are made to contact the police. 

Looking the other way and allowing a drunk customer to get behind the wheel of a vehicle could be construed as a civilly liable action. An auto accident lawyer could explore the following questions:

  • When the person left the establishment, did someone from the bar write down the license plate and call the police as the customer left the premises? 
  • Did someone from the bar tell the patron about the risks and suggest calling a taxi cab?
  • Does the bar have a policy in place to prevent drunk driving?

If nothing else, these questions show there are a great many legal issues to be explored in a personal injury case involving alcohol. Those considering legal action in the aftermath of an alcohol-related incident should meet with an auto accident attorney like Gibbs and Parnell.