Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents after New Jersey Holiday Parties
Can You Sue the Person or Establishment that Served the Drinks?
Most of us like to enjoy a little holiday “cheer,” whether it’s at an office party, the home of a friend or our favorite watering hole. Unfortunately, too many people have a little too much of the Christmas spirits, get behind the wheel of a car, and cause accidents. If you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver during the holiday season, can you seek damages from the person or establishment that provided the alcohol?
New Jersey’s Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws
The New Jersey laws that govern potential liability for accidents caused by intoxicated persons are known alternatively as “dram shop” laws (when applied to business establishments) or “social host liability” laws (when the alcohol was served at a private party or by a private individual).
Under the state’s dram shop laws, there are two specific situations where a person injured by an impaired/intoxicated individual may seek compensation from the bar, tavern, restaurant or other business the provided the alcohol:
- Where there is evidence that the person who caused the accident was “visibly intoxicated” when served alcohol, or
- Where the employee knew or should reasonably have known that the person being served was younger than 21
For a social host to be liable in New Jersey, the injured person must one of the following:
- That the person who caused the accident was “visibly intoxicated” in the presence of the social host, or
- That the injuries resulted from a motor vehicle accident caused by a person who was served alcohol by the social host, and that the circumstances under which the alcohol was served created an “unreasonable risk” of harm to life of property
If the person causing the accident has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than .10%, there is an irrebuttable presumption that he or she was not visibly intoxicated. If the BAC is between .10% and .15%, the presumption becomes rebuttable.
Contact Our Office
At the Lee Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience successfully handling personal injury claims. Call us at 973-315-9080 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary. We welcome all major credit cards. ¡Nosotros hablamos español!