Imagine this scenario: A bar continues to serve alcohol to an individual who is obviously so intoxicated that he may pose a danger to himself and others. After the individual engages in unruly behavior, the bar kicks him out and makes no effort to determine if he can leave the area safely. The individual then drives away and causes an accident that permanently injures a third party. Is the bar in any way liable for the resulting damages and injury?
In many states, the answer may be yes. Forty-two states across the country have dram shop laws which hold bars and servers of alcohol liable if it can be proved that they were unreasonably negligent with serving and evicting the individual. However, Nevada is one of the few states that has no dram shop laws, so the answer is always no.
Because there are no dram shop laws in Nevada, injured parties cannot seek damages from the establishment that served the alcohol. They can only bring civil suits against the intoxicated person who directly caused the damage. In fact, Nevada has statues that specifically disallow dram shop liability. The only exception is if the intoxicated person was underage, younger than 21 years old, at the time, and the establishment knowingly served alcohol to a minor.
What Can I Do?
If you have suffered injuries or damages due to the actions of an intoxicated person, you will not be able to bring a civil suit against the establishment where he was served. However, you should still contact a personal injury lawyer, so that they can look at the specific situation and see what options are available. For example, it should still be possible for you to bring a suit against the intoxicated person directly.
Social Host Liability Law
Despite the fact that a dram shop law does not exist in Nevada in the same way it exists in other states, the state does have a social host liability law on the books. It is also limited to intoxicated persons under 21 years of age. Imagine this scenario: A man hosts a party and continues to serve alcohol to another man who is 20 years of age. The younger man becomes obviously intoxicated, but they continue to serve him at the party. This underage man then leaves the party, gets in an accident, and injures another person.
In this situation, the injured person can in fact bring suits against both the intoxicated person and the host of the party. If the court finds both the person and the host at fault, then they typically will split the compensatory damages awarded.
These civil suits are notoriously difficult to argue. Your lawyer will need evidence that the intoxicated person was served at the host’s party and that the host served him even though he knew he was under 21 years of age. Still, if you have suffered injuries or damages due to the actions of an intoxicated person, you should contact an attorney immediately. Our attorneys at Bighorn Law can discuss what happened and help determine if you have a case.