In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
New Hampshire’s Liquor Liability Laws (Dram shop laws)
Intoxicated motorists are responsible for a considerable portion of the number of automobile accidents that occur in New Hampshire every year. The victims of these intoxicated motorists frequently suffer from debilitating injuries, and the most serious cases involve death. A drunken motorist is considered negligent for getting behind the wheel of their car while intoxicated, but it is not uncommon for the establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated individual to be held negligent as well. Any individual who is injured by an establishment’s negligent service of alcoholic drinks, or the individual licensed to serve the alcohol, can bring a legal claim against that person or the establishment.
This is often referred to as a Dram Shop claim. A Dram Shop is the legal phrase applied to a tavern, bar, or other establishment within the United States that serves alcohol. An intoxicated individual is legally barred from brining this type of claim unless the establishment’s service of alcohol can be proven to be “reckless”.
What Is “Reckless Service” and “Negligent Service” of Alcohol?
New Hampshire statute RSA 507-F:4 states that negligent service of alcoholic beverages occurs when alcohol is served to an intoxicated person or a minor. If a waiter provides an alcoholic beverage to a person who is visibly intoxicated, this would be classified as negligent. The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission has established a list of visual signs of intoxication to include the following: a stumbling patron, an odor of alcohol, staggering, falls, excessive loudness, bloodshot eyes, a disheveled appearance, and/or slurred speech.
If a waiter serves an alcoholic beverage to a minor without first requesting proof of age, this could be classified as negligence on the part of the waiter. It is also classified as negligent to serve or sell alcohol to an adult who then subsequently serves it to a minor, even if it is off the establishment’s premises.
The “reckless service” of an alcoholic beverage, as defined by RSA 507-F5, occurs when a waiter should have had reasonable knowledge or knows that such services would create an unreasonable threat of physical harm to others or the drinker themselves, but chooses to serve them anyways. An example of this would be serving alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person such that a substantial risk of alcohol poisoning or death is created. Assisting a patron into an automobile with the knowledge that that patron intended to operate the automobile would be another example of reckless service.
What About Private Parties?
It is not uncommon to see scenes in movies in which a teenager’s parents go out of town, and the teenager throws a huge party where alcohol is served, often with disastrous results. Unfortunately, we frequently see news reports of college students drinking too much at a fraternity party and consequently falling off of a balcony or out of a window. There are also a percentage of parents that feel it is better for their teenagers to drink at home rather than some other place. In personal injury cases where a host’s service of alcohol could be classified as reckless, the injured party can bring a lawsuit against the host; however, it must be proven that the host’s reckless conduct caused the actual injury.
Have You Been Injured By an Intoxicated Motorist?
If you, or one of your loved ones, has been considerably injured by a drunk driver in the state of New Hampshire, our experienced NH personal injury attorneys can assist you through each step of the process involved in filing a successful claim against the motorist. Furthermore, we can investigate whether or not a claim can be filed against a social host or Dram Shop. For a free consultation regarding your case, please contact our law firm today.
Serving all of New Hampshire. Offices in Nashua, Manchester, Concord, and Portsmouth.
This site does not constitute legal advice. An attorney client relationship is formed only after an agreement is entered into between an Attorney of Liberty Legal and a client is reached. Past results do not guarantee future results.
Disclaimer: Some cases are referred to other law firms with consent of client.
Liberty Legal Services PLLC. Main office: 250 Commercial St #3020 Manchester NH 03101. (603) 262-3196