People who choose to drink should always drink responsibly. On the other hand, the law is very clear that the mere fact that someone has had a few drinks doesn’t relieve businesses of their legal responsibility to protect their customers and others.
In fact, sometimes a business has more responsibility to protect people when someone has been drinking – especially if it was the one that supplied the booze. As a result, the fact that someone was drinking before they were injured doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be fairly compensated for the harm. And if a person is injured by someone else who had been drinking, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people or businesses that might also be legally responsible.
If you or someone you know has been injured, only a lawyer can thoroughly investigate the facts and determine who might be responsible for compensation.
Here’s a look at a number of cases where a business could be responsible for harm that happened as a result of intoxication:
► An Iowa man went to a local tavern for a few beers after work. When he got into a heated argument with an acquaintance, he was asked to leave the premises. The acquaintance followed the man into the parking lot and assaulted him, causing serious injuries.
The acquaintance was clearly at fault, but what about the tavern?
According to the Iowa Supreme Court, the tavern could also be accountable for the harm and have to pay damages.
Why? Because the tavern had served alcohol to the men and could clearly see that a dangerous situation was developing. Simply ordering one of the men outside only made the problem worse. The tavern had a hand in creating the situation, and it could have taken steps to prevent any harm, such as separating the men or calling the police.
► A Denver woman planned to go partying at nightclubs, and because she knew she’d be in no condition to drive home, she reserved a room at the local Westin Hotel. At 3:00 a.m., though, the hotel kicked her out, after receiving complaints of loud, rowdy behavior and too many people in the room. She accepted a ride home with a drunk friend, and the friend caused an accident, injuring the woman.
Both the woman and her friend were drunk, but the Colorado Court of Appeals said the hotel could also be to blame. While the woman shouldn’t have been loudly partying in a hotel at 3:00 a.m., the hotel didn’t have to simply evict her, knowing that she and her friends were in no condition to drive anywhere, the court said. The hotel could have taken any number of other steps to solve the noise problem that wouldn’t have endangered anyone’s life.
► A New Jersey family was seriously injured when their pickup truck was rear-ended by a driver with a blood alcohol level of .278, more than three times the legal limit. The driver had left a T.G.I. Friday’s about 20 to 30 minutes before the crash.
The driver was clearly at fault, but the family also sued T.G.I. Friday’s for violating a law against serving alcohol to people who are visibly intoxicated. T.G.I. Friday’s argued that the case should be thrown out because there were no witnesses who could testify that they saw the man being served while he was clearly drunk. But a New Jersey appeals court allowed the family to sue. It said that even though there weren’t any witnesses, a jury could still determine that the man was visibly drunk based on his blood-alcohol level at the time.
In our next post, we’ll consider a few more cases related to this subject. In the meantime, let us help with any personal injury situation you may be facing. Call 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 today.