Is the Bartender Responsible if a Customer gets in a Car Accident after being over-served?

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Is the Bartender Responsible if a Customer gets in a Car Accident after being over-served?

Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question: “I am a bartender and we have had extensive training on not over-serving customers. If I happened to serve a customer who drinks and drives and gets in an accident, injures somebody, am I legally going to be held responsible?”

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we are going to answer a question from Mary in Wilmington, Delaware. Mary writes-in and she says, “I am a bartender and we have had extensive training on not over-serving customers. If I happened to serve a customer who drinks and drives and gets in an accident, injures somebody, am I legally going to be held responsible?” That is a very good question. I am assuming that you are a server in the state of Delaware. The answer is that in the state of Delaware, there is no civil legal liability to an injured person caused by a driver who has been over-served. Basically that is called dram shop liability.

Delaware has no dram shop liability laws on the books. In fact, there are cases where servers, bars, and restaurants over-served their patrons, have been sued for injuries caused to other people by those drunk drivers and the Delaware courts do not allow those cases to go forward. I am not a server. I have never been a server and I am not a bar owner or a restaurant owner. I am a personal injury attorney for the most part. So my question is, what do you think? Do you think that ought to be the law? Do you think that in the state of Delaware there should be a law that says if a bar owner or a bartender over-serves the patron and that patron goes out and drinks and drives while intoxicated and gets into an accident, the patron rear-ends somebody at a red light and causes them injures, should the bar, restaurant, or the server be held responsible for that injury? Should the bar owner, restaurant, or server be able to be sued for the injuries that were caused by the drunk patron?

Should there be a dram shop liability law in the state of Delaware? There are dram shop liability laws in other states, but not in Delaware. We are behind the times on this. I am interested to know what people think about this. Is this something that we should have to protect innocent people from drunk drivers? Is it something that we are fine not to have? Or, it is what it is and we do not need to have another law on the books?

Let me know what you think. Post a comment in response to this video or send me an e-mail below. I’m attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching.

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