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Massachsetts Dramshop Laws: Liability Involving Alcohol Service and Sales

Bartenders, club owners, and party hosts–both public and private event holders–must be responsible when serving alcohol. Dramshop laws hold commercial establishments accountable when a patron or guest is over-served. The penalties can be especially harsh when an accident or injury can be traced back to a negligent bar owner or social host. For victims of accidents and injuries, tracing an accident and the booze back to its source is one way to recover compensation.
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The majority of states have enacted laws related to the liability of businesses for over-serving intoxicated persons or for selling alcohol to a minor. Similarly, private party hosts can also be held responsible if laws are broken. Our Massachusetts dramshop attorneys are experienced in representing individuals who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in drunk driving collisions. We will investigate the cause of any accident and aggressively pursue claims against all responsible individuals and entities.

What are dramshop laws?
Dramshop laws make bartenders, restaurants and business owners liable when over serving an intoxicated person or giving alcohol to a minor results in an injury. Statistics show that dram shop laws have drastically reduced the number of accidents related to negligent alcohol sales and service.

Are the laws effective at curbing drunk driving?
According to MADD, Holding businesses accountable for accidents and injuries has forced owners to be more responsible and to abide by laws involving alcohol sale and service. Accidents involving liability have also drawn greater publicity and can create awareness about liability. Dram shop laws also reduce excessive and illegal alcohol consumption and discourage drink promotions that could result in over-consumption in a short period of time.

What are the dramshop laws in Massachusetts?
The highest court of Massachusetts has held that a bar can be sued if a visibly intoxicated person is served more drinks and is later involved in an accident or causes an injury or fatality. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts does not have liability for social hosts who over serve intoxicated adults. Social hosts may be liable for serving minors who are later involved in an accident or who become injured after being served.

Do dramshop laws reduce personal responsibility?
No, dram shop laws are intended to curb negligent or illegal sale of alcohol but do not reduce individual responsibility for an accident. In dram shop cases, bars and other establishments can be required to pay punitive damages; however, injured persons and their loved ones can still bring additional claims against the individual driver.

Restaurant and bar owners, bartenders, waiters, banquet employees, as well as social hosts should be aware of potential liability when serving alcohol. The liability can be greater if an establishment or social host is responsible for serving alcohol to minors. If you or someone you love was involved in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries or losses. An experienced legal team can review the facts of your case, identify responsible individuals or entities, and pursue maximum financial recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, long-term care, or wrongful death.

Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Officer Accused of Drunk Driving with Child in Vehicle, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, January 5, 2014

MADD Praises DADSS Research to Fight Drunk Driving Accidents, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2014