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Rhode Island Dram Shop Litigation Lawyer

Dram shop liability refers to the responsibility an establishment or vendor who sells alcohol to another person has, should the intoxicated person cause an accident that results in damages. In Rhode Island, for instance, if a person leaves a restaurant intoxicated and causes an auto accident that results in injuries to another, the injured victim may be able to hold the drunk driver accountable as well as the restaurant that negligently served the impaired patron. As Providence car accident lawyers at Tapalian Law, we know the majority of accident claims involving dram shop litigation involve drunk driving that resulted in injury or death in a motor vehicle crash.

Dram Shop Liability in RI

The term “dram shop” comes from an Old-World term for “tavern”, and refers to an establishment that serves alcohol. Each state has different laws surrounding dram shop liability. In Rhode Island, these laws are detailed in the Rhode Island Liquor Liability Act under R.I. Gen. Stat. § 3-14-6 and § 3-14-7.

According to the law, an establishment that serves alcohol to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person, may be culpable for any damages that result due to the impaired person’s actions.

For example, a bar may be considered negligent for serving liquor to a minor if the establishment fails to check for proper identification from a patron who is under the age of 21 years, or if they serve liquor to a visibly intoxicated individual, and said minor or intoxicated person causes damages.

The bar or establishment may be considered reckless if they knowingly served alcohol to a minor, or continued to serve liquor to a person showing clearly visible signs of intoxication, thereby ignoring the potential risk the person can cause to others while under the influence of alcohol. Some examples of reckless behavior on behalf of the establishment may include the staff encouraging the patron to consume more liquor, providing someone under 21 years old with liquor despite knowing they are a minor, and serving an excessive amount of alcohol to someone that can place them at risk of death.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by an intoxicated driver, contact an experienced Rhode Island dram shop law attorney to discuss the details of your claim and determine if a business or commercial entity may be at fault for your injuries. Contact Attorney David Tapalian at 401-552-5000 for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident.

Drunk Driving & Restaurant Liability

If a drunk driver leaves a commercial establishment where they were served alcohol and causes an accident that results in damages, the crash will be investigated to determine if dram shop laws apply. Investigators will determine where and when the intoxicated driver consumed the liquor and how this may have contributed to the crash.

Establishing proof may include: proof of sale of the liquor, injuries, causal link between the sale of alcohol and the intoxicated person, findings that intoxication contributed to the injury and damages of the victim.

If alcohol was consumed at multiple establishments, further evidence will be required to determine the quantity of liquor and time frames during which the drinks were consumed at each individual establishment to establish a percentage of liability, if any, for each location.

For instance, Joe Smith starts his evening at a restaurant in Providence with his family and has one beer with dinner. Following dinner, he meets friends out at a local bar where he proceeds to consume multiple beers within a short time frame. He slurs his words while asking the bartender for a round of shots for him and his friends. The bartender pours the shots while teasing Joe about his slurred speech. After two more rounds of shots at the bar, Joe gets into his truck and attempts to drive home. Pulling out of the bar parking lot, he slams head-on into a car driven by Wendy Jones. Ms. Jones is severely injured in the crash. Using the dram shop laws as they apply in Rhode Island, her personal injury attorney is able to hold the bar liable for their reckless actions that resulted in damages to Ms. Jones. In this particular example, it is unlikely that the restaurant that served Mr. Smith one beer with dinner will be held negligent.

When an alcohol vendor is held liable for the injury or death of another, that does not mean that the actual person causing the injuries is not responsible for their actions. Either one, or both, may be found liable in a claim. If the intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car and collides into another vehicle or pedestrian, resulting in personal injury or death, the business(es) who sold or served the alcohol may be held accountable as well as the reckless driver.

Social Hosts

Rhode Island has different rules for when the alcohol was provided in a social setting rather than at a commercial business. If the host of a social event provides a guest of legal drinking age with alcohol who later injures someone else, the host will likely not be held legally responsible. However, if a social host buys or provides alcohol to a minor, the host can be held liable and face penalties for their negligent actions.

Dram Shop Rulings in RI

In 2016, a teenage drunk driver, the Twin River Casino, and Royal Liquors were found responsible for car accident injuries in Providence, Rhode Island. The 18-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hit the center barrier, went through two highway lanes, flipped over, and then hit a tree. Both passengers of his vehicle were ejected from their seats, and one was paralyzed below the chest from the incident. The jury awarded the paralyzed woman $23 million dollars after determining that the driver was 70% responsible for the accident, the Twin River Casino was 20% liable, and a Providence liquor store that allegedly sold the driver alcohol was found 10% liable.

Providence Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian Can Help You

Drunk driving crashes, and other alcohol-related accidents, are some of the most fatal types of collisions. Sadly, these are entirely preventable crashes. If you or a family member is the victim of a drunk driving accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts that resulted in personal injury or death, seek immediate legal help from an experienced personal injury law firm. You may be eligible to recover the costs of your medical treatment, missed time from work, and your overall pain and suffering. If death occurred, family members may be eligible for compensation for the funeral and burial expenses of their loved one.

Tapalian Law will work with the insurance companies to determine fault for your injuries and if, and how, Rhode Island dram shop laws apply to your claim. Our skilled injury lawyers work with clients in Providence, and all over RI, MA, and FL. If you want to learn more about how alcohol vendors may be responsible for your auto accident injuries, or to discuss another type of injury claim, call our Providence personal injury office at 401-552-5000 or schedule a free consultation with us online.

Client Reviews
He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
I visited David a couple of days after my accident and he gave me clear and concise details on what would happen throughout the process... David N.