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Dram Shop Liability

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By: Erica L. Pereira, Esq.

In Massachusetts, there are two types of liquor liability claims which can derive from the over-serving of alcohol to a person.  As a result of that over-serving, that intoxicated person then goes out and causes an injury to another person.  The first situation is called Social Host Liability, wherein the owner of a house or a private individual is held responsible for serving alcohol to private guests in their own home.  Attorney Laskoski spoke more extensively about Social Host Liability in her blog posted on November 22, 2012.

The second theory of liability is called Dram Shop Liability.  This occurs when a liquor store or an establishment over-serves alcoholic beverages to an individual and that individual then leaves the establishment and causes injury to themselves or to someone else.  Dram Shop liquor liability is explained more fully in Mass General Laws c. 138 § 69.

Dram Shop Liability holds business establishments who serve alcohol responsible if a minor or intoxicated person is served alcohol and then causes death or injury to another third party.  The key component however is that the establishment had to know or should have known that the individual was visibly intoxicated and continued to serve or distribute alcohol to that person.

Most often these Dram Shop cases involve situations of drunk driving but often could involve other types of liability or injury.  In order to have a valid Dram Shop claim, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to assure you properly file a claim.  Therefore, it is best to speak to an attorney if you believe that you may have a claim against a liquor store or restaurant.  The attorneys at KECHES LAW GROUP, P.C. have experience in handling motor vehicle accidents, Dram Shop cases and Social Host Liability cases and would be happy to speak with you.