In most cases, bars are sued for overserving patrons if these individuals leave the premises and injure others. The most obvious example is a drunk driver who injures someone else in a car accident after being overserved. However, New Jersey’s “dram shop” laws may apply to a range of additional situations. In some cases, the drunk individual can sue the bar for their own injuries if they were overserved prior to an accident. A woman in New Jersey is now filing a lawsuit against a bar for this very reason, claiming that staff should have stopped serving her alcohol prior to her fall.
Westfield Woman Sues for Injuries After Being Served Too Many Drinks
On August 9, 2023, it was reported that a woman from Westfield was suing a bar in Point Pleasant for causing her injuries. She claims that the staff negligently served her too many drinks prior to a slip and fall. She also argues that she was visibly intoxicated before being served the final beverage – to the point where the staff should have known that it was unsafe to offer her more drinks. She is seeking $1 million in damages, and she claims that her injuries are permanent and severe. Apparently, her injuries have prevented her from earning an income.
The exact circumstances of this accident are extremely vague. The lawsuit does not go into detail when describing her injuries, nor does it indicate where or how the fall occurred. It is possible that there were additional fall hazards on the premises, such as ledges, spills, or stairs. However, it seems as though the plaintiff’s main argument is that the fall was caused by her own level of intoxication.
The bar has issued an official response to this lawsuit, claiming that it is not responsible for the plaintiff’s fall and that her own negligence led wholly to her injuries.
This Bar Has a History of Dram Shop Lawsuits
It is important to note that as of this writing, none of the allegations made against the bar have been established in court. The only way to establish negligence is through the normal court process, which has not occurred yet. There is also a strong chance that this process will never happen, and that the plaintiff will simply be offered a settlement. Remember that when a defendant offers a settlement, they do not admit any fault.
With all that said, the bar has a history of dram shop issues. In 2015, its liquor license was suspended after a car crash involving one of its patrons. The patron in question was seen drinking at the bar and was visibly intoxicated when she left. After getting into a vehicle that she did not even own, she then proceeded to cause a collision. The patron lost her life as a result of the crash, and the person in the other vehicle suffered multiple serious injuries.
After the bar’s liquor license was reinstated, all staff members were required to undergo mandatory safe service alcohol training. The goal was to ensure that incidents like this would never happen again. One might argue that this type of incident did not occur again, since a car crash is very different from a slip and fall. However, we do not know the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and she may have suffered a legitimate, life-changing disability.
What are New Jersey’ Dram Shop Laws?
Under New Jersey’s dram shop laws, vendors may be held accountable for injuries under two circumstances:
- They served someone who was visibly intoxicated
- They served someone who they knew or “reasonably should have known” was under the legal age
In the aforementioned lawsuit, the main question will be the definition of “visibly intoxicated.” Both the plaintiff and the defendant will undoubtedly argue about this definition. The plaintiff will therefore find herself in the unusual situation of proving that she was incredibly drunk at the time of the accident. She might therefore try to prove that her speech was slurred, her vision blurry, and her eyes bloodshot. Witnesses may also be called upon to back up these claims. On the other hand, the bar will need to establish that she was not visibly intoxicated. They might point out that she was engaging in clear, rapid conversation with staff members or that she walked to the bathroom without stumbling.
Where Can I Find an Experienced Injury Attorney in New Jersey?
If you have been searching for an injury attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. With our assistance, you can sue property owners and other negligent parties for various injuries. If you are not sure who might be to blame for your injury, it may still be worth your time to book a consultation. During this initial meeting, you can discuss options that you might not have previously considered, including bars who overserve their patrons. Reach out today to get started.