Dram Shop Liability

“My daughter was injured in a bar by another girl her age.  Both my daughter and the assailant were 19 and both had been drinking.  Can my daughter sue the bar owner for her injuries?”

There are many more questions your daughter would have to answer before you could get an answer to your question, but your question raises the issue of Dram Shop liability for bar owners.  Without going into too much detail at this point, bar owners can be responsible for the wrongful acts of their patrons.

Your daughter might have claims based on common-law negligence and violations of statues.  The key statutes are Alcohol Beverage Control Law section 65, and General Obligation Law sections 11-100 and 11-101.  There are many facets to these claims, but essentially bar owners are responsible for the damages your daughter sustained if she can prove the bar owner served liquor to an intoxicated minor.

As stated initially, there are many questions your daughter would have to answer before there is a claim.  Was the assailant intoxicated? The injured party must show the bad actor was actually intoxicated at the time of the incident.  How did your daughter and her assailant obtain drinks in the bar? If someone else of age bought the drinks and then gave them to the assailant and your daughter, and bar owner had no reason to know that there was underage drinking taking place in the bar, then the bar owner is not responsible.  (For example, did your daughter and her assailant use fake identification stating they were both 21 and not 19 year old to enter the bar? Did someone else of age buy drinks for the assailant?) Did the assailant misbehave or cause any problems in the bar up until the time your daugher was injured? Bar owners are not responsible for random acts of violence that occur on their premises if there is no warning to the bar owner placing the bar owner on notice of possible trouble.

There may be more issues to consider depending on the answer to these questions.  Our office, like many personal injury firms, will not charge you to sit down and discuss the merits of your daughter’s case.