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Dram Shop Liability In California

Dram Shop Liability In California
Christian J. Amendt

Any type of motor vehicle accident in Pomona can leave victims having to deal with lifelong limitations. Those may be related to mental impairments or a reduced physical capacity due to the loss of a limb or motor function. The costs associated with dealing with these consequences can be enormous, which is why so many accident victims are often compelled to seek compensation. The question then becomes with whom does liability lie?

In the case of drunk driving accidents (which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports to cause $44 billion in damages each year), responsibility is obviously assigned to the impaired driver. Yet what about those who may have had a hand in getting them drunk? Can an establishment that serves it patrons alcoholic beverages, or an individual who hosts an event where drinks are offered by held responsible if one of those served later causes a car accident?

The answer is yes (yet only to a limited extent). Dram shop liability and social host liability laws are statutes that allow accident victims to go after those who served drinks to the drunk drivers that ultimately collided with them. In most cases, an element of negligence must be present in order to apply these laws (such as one serving drinks to another when that person is already visibly intoxicated).

California followed the same philosophy until recently until its dram shop law was amended to show that proximate cause of a drunk driving accident is not the decision to serve one alcoholic drinks, but rather then decision made by the one served to drive after drinking having drunk them. However, Section 1714(d) of the state’s Civil Code states that vicarious liability can be assigned if an establishment or individual serves alcohol to one known to be a minor.

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