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bartender over-served alcohol
February 19, 2024

Can a Bartender Get In Trouble for Over-Serving?

The consequences of over-serving alcohol in establishments like bars and restaurants can be devastating, particularly when it leads to drunk driving. Many drivers who have been over-served become involved in accidents that cause serious or fatal injuries. When you or someone you love is the victim of a drunk driving accident, talking to an experienced dram shop liability attorney as soon as possible can help preserve your rights and allow you to seek maximum compensation.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, “Rhode Island has a significant impaired driving problem.” Indeed, while around 30 percent of fatal accidents are alcohol-related nationally, nearly 44 percent of the fatal car accidents in our state are caused by impaired drivers. Even when non-fatal, drunk driving accidents commonly result in serious injury, altering the lives of victims for months or even years to come.

Victims of drunk driving accidents deserve justice, which typically sees lawsuits filed against impaired drivers. However, for those injured by drunk drivers in Rhode Island, dram shop liability laws allow victims to hold alcohol-serving establishments accountable as well. These laws recognize that responsibility for drunk driving is often shared between the individual consuming alcohol and those who fail to stop serving when enough is clearly enough.

At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, we have more than 45 years of experience helping victims of drunk driving accidents navigate the complexities of these claims. We work to uncover all liable parties in our pursuit of just compensation, helping to ensure all those responsible are held to full account.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a drunk driving accident, Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell is here to help. Call us at (401) 273-8330 to schedule a FREE and confidential consultation with one of our Providence dram shop liability attorneys right away.

What Is Dram Shop Liability?

Dram shop” is a term used for legal purposes in reference to bars, restaurants, clubs, and other venues where alcohol can be consumed. Dram shop liability allows these establishments to be held accountable for injuries caused by patrons they have over-served.

In Rhode Island, the Liquor Liability Act empowers victims of injury to hold bartenders accountable when they serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. These laws also allow bartenders to be held liable for any alcohol that is served to a minor.

Whereas the laws surrounding serving a minor are relatively cut and dry, the concept of “visible intoxication” is key in establishing that a patron was over-served. Because signs can vary, licensed establishments are expected to have trained staff who can recognize intoxication and take appropriate steps to prevent inebriated individuals from consuming more alcohol.

Visible signs of intoxication may include:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Watery, bloodshot eyes

Bartenders and waitstaff in Rhode Island have a legal obligation to refuse service to people exhibiting these conditions and behaviors. They also have a legal obligation to refrain from encouraging excessive consumption of alcohol which could result in over-intoxication. When they fail in these obligations, employees and establishments can be held liable for injuries that follow, both to the person consuming the alcohol and the people they may harm.

Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces inhibitions, particularly when over-consumed. Dram shop laws create a balance between the rights of businesses to sell alcohol and their duty to do so in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize public safety. These laws recognize that while individuals are responsible for their actions, the bartenders and establishments serving them alcohol also share in that responsibility, especially when their actions exacerbate potential risks.

How Do I File a Claim Against a Bar and Bartender in Rhode Island?

Filing a dram shop liability claim in Rhode Island requires understanding the nuances of state laws and the ability to demonstrate the establishment’s negligence.  This process is intricate and is best approached with the assistance of an experienced dram shop liability lawyer. Your lawyer will handle all of the complexities of the case, including the establishment of liability and assessment of damages, to help you seek the full compensation you are due.

Demonstrating a bartender’s negligence is essential for prevailing in a dram shop liability claim. This involves the careful collection and preservation of evidence, such as obtaining surveillance footage from the establishment, receipts that show how much liquor was purchased, statements from the over-served driver, eyewitness accounts, police reports, and more. This evidence is used to determine if the bartender served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, and if this act of service played a direct role in the harm or damage caused. A seasoned attorney will know which evidence must be obtained to build an effective case.

Once the necessary evidence and damages are documented, your lawsuit can be filed. As with the gathering of evidence, this is a process best handled by an experienced attorney. There are timelines and other considerations that require specific steps to be taken when filing suit. Having a lawyer on your side is one of the most effective ways to ensure your rights and ability to seek fair compensation are protected.

How Our Providence Dram Shop Liability Lawyers Can Help

At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, our Providence drunk driving accident lawyers have nearly five decades of experience handling dram shop liability claims. Competent, thorough, and engaged, we take the time necessary to understand how your injury has impacted your life and take every care to ensure your case is handled with the professionalism and expediency it deserves. Experienced in both negotiations and litigation, we are prepared to take dram shop liability claims as far as needed to help secure the full compensation you are due.

Our firm’s track record with dram shop liability includes several multi-million dollar verdicts and judgments against negligent establishments and their employees. We are tireless in our approach and will always prioritize your needs in our relentless pursuit of justice.

Contact Our Rhode Island Drunk Driving Attorneys for FREE

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver in Rhode Island, Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell is ready to investigate all potential causes, identify the liable parties, and seek the full compensation you are due. Contact us online or call us today to schedule your FREE case review with one of our Providence dram shop liability lawyers to learn more about your rights, your options, and how we can help. We welcome clients from Cranston, Warwick, Pawtucket, East Providence, Newport, and throughout Rhode Island.