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Understanding New York’s Dram Shop Law

If you are injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of an intoxicated person in New York, you have the right to bring a personal injury claim. Depending on the details of your case, you may have another avenue for seeking compensation for your injuries. Under New York's dram shop law, an injured person may bring another claim against the business that provided alcohol to the intoxicated wrongdoer. This isn't the whole story as dram shop claims are notoriously complex.

Dram Shop Laws in New York

Dram shop law in New York may make someone else legally responsible for the actions of someone who is intoxicated.

Under New York's dram shop law, establishments that serve alcohol for profit can be held responsible when they serve alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated and later injures or causes damage to a third party. These claims can be complex as there is no definition for "visibly intoxicated" which means it is often at the discretion of the establishment. Dram shop law in New York also prohibits serving alcohol to anyone who is under the age of 21.

Recovering Damages in a Dram Shop Case

Dram shop law only allows an injured third party to recover damages. Someone who is served alcohol and suffers damages or injuries cannot bring a dram shop claim against an establishment. New York is unique in that it does not allow patrons to sue an establishment that contributed to their intoxication and injuries.

To recover damages under dram shop law in New York, plaintiffs must prove the following:

  • Damages or injuries are the result of the actions of the drunk individual.
  • The defendant, such as a bar, served alcohol unlawfully to the intoxicated person. This means they sold alcohol to someone who was under 21 or visibly intoxicated at the time of sale.
  • The defendant contributed to the further intoxication of the person who caused the damages.

Damages in dram shop cases are not limited to traffic accidents. They can involve pedestrians or incidents in which an intoxicated patron attacks or fights an innocent bystander, for example.

If you have been injured by a drunk minor or adult and you believe an establishment's serving of alcohol contributed to your accident, you may have a case under New York's dram shop law. Contact Levine and Wiss to schedule a free consultation with a New York personal injury attorney to review your case.