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Liability for Serving Liquor: Dram Shop Laws in Washington DC

Many jurisdictions across the nation have what are called “dram shop laws.” A dram shop law extends liability to the purveyors of beverages for injuries that arise from someone’s intoxication. The liability established under dram shop laws has the potential to decimate a liquor-selling business, exposing them to potentially millions of dollars in personal injury damages.

Under Section § 25-781 of the District of Columbia Code, “the sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to the following persons is prohibited:

  • A person under 21 years of age, either for the person’s own use or for the use of any other person…
  • An intoxicated person, or a person who appears to be intoxicated; or
  • A person of notoriously intemperate habits.”

When a person – an individual or business – violates a statutory law or regulation that was designed to protect the health and safety of the general public, evidence of that violation can be used to demonstrate that the individual or business acted negligently. When such negligence leads to another person’s injury, the negligent person can be liable for those injuries.

“All bars and restaurants have a duty to be reasonable (i.e., not negligent). Even if they aren’t responsible for accidents caused by an intoxicated patron, they can be responsible for serving too much alcohol to someone if that person hurts themselves in the bar or causes of a fight,” Thomas Simeone – named partner of Simeone & Miller LLP – explained in a FitSmallBusiness.com article. “For example, if a bar has a stairway that is not well lit, the more it serves someone, the more likely it is the person may fall and bring a claim. If so, the bar will have to admit that it knew the stairs were being used by people who had been drinking, which makes it foreseeably dangerous.”

Thus, if a business operating in Washington D.C. sells alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person – or a person who appears to be intoxicated – they can be liable for injuries that arise from such intoxication. This can include drunk driving accidents, bar fights, and slip and fall injuries.

Washington D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys at Your Service

At Simeone & Miller LLP, our clients benefit from years of personal injury litigation experience – and so can you. We are dedicated to providing you with highly-rated legal representation that focuses on the particular needs of your case. If you were injured by the acts of an intoxicated person, we can help determine whether liability for those injuries extends back to the act of a bar over-selling alcohol to the at-fault party.

Call us at (202) 888-0872 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today.