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April 13th, 2012

NJ Bar and Restaurant Liability for Alcohol Related Accidents and Fights

With the weather getting nicer, more people will be spending time outdoors, eating out and going out.

Imagine going to a bar or restaurant with some friends. As you are leaving the restaurant, you are attacked by a group of drunken men and suffer serious injuries. Or, imagine that you’re driving home from work and you get into a head-on collision, caused by a drunk driver. You suffer serious career-ending injuries. The other driver’s alcohol level was .24, or 3 times the legal limit. The guy is so drunk, he can barely stand. Come to find out, he’s a minor and just left a bar in New Jersey.

In either situation, you might have a claim against the bar or restaurant which served the person who started the fight or caused the DUI accident. New Jersey injury law specifically recognizes the right to make such claims. Under the New Jersey Dram Shop Act, if you’re injured as a result of the negligent service of alcohol, you can bring a claim against an alcohol service establishment, like a bar, restaurant or club.

These cases are not slam dunk cases. They must be properly and quickly investigated, and evidence must be obtained showing that the bar, restaurant or club was in fact, negligent. Memories fade, people move and physical evidence like videotape footage may be lost. Eyewitness testimony of other customers may establish that a server or bartender served someone who was “visibly intoxicated.” But such evidence isn’t always credible. Some bars and restaurants have video surveillance, and that would be the best evidence.

In addition, drunken customers who become injured can also make such claims. In 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a lower court case which allowed a person who was convicted of a DUI to sue a NJ bar/restaurant which served the alcohol. The case, Voss v. Tranquilino, garnered attention because of what it means: drunk drivers who cause DUI car accidents can turn around and sue the bar or restaurant which served them. Again, that’s easier said than done.

The standard to determine whether a server or bartender served a customer who was “visibly intoxicated” is whether the person’s intoxication is accompanied by a perceptible act which presents a clear sign of intoxication. The strongest evidence of the person’s intoxication will come from other customers who were in the bar or restaurant at the time. In many situations, those other customers were also drinking themselves and such testimony might not always be credible.

The bottom line is New Jersey law holds bars, restaurants and clubs liable for negligently serving alcohol. Having the case investigated, early on, is important to determine whether there is a viable case or not.

More: Alcohol Accident & Injury Lawsuits in PA & NJ

To submit your case for review by our New Jersey accident lawyers, call Click To Call. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Last updated: November 13, 2014