Dram shop laws, or dram shop acts, are designed to make business establishments liable for the injuries or damage caused by persons they sold alcohol to. For example, if a bar or tavern sells alcohol to a patron, and that patron then injures someone in a car accident, the dram shop law may allow the injured party to recover damages from the bar as well as the intoxicated person. Most dram shop laws require bars and taverns to stop selling alcohol to persons who are visibly or obviously intoxicated. Most states have some form of dram shop act in place, though they vary widely from state to state.
According to Ohio’s dram shop law, persons who were injured by an intoxicated person may have a cause of action against the business establishment who sold the alcoholic beverage. The business’ liability depends somewhat on where the injury actually occurred:
- On the premises: If the injury occurred on the premises, or in a parking lot under their control, the business owner will be held liable if the injury was caused by the negligence of the business or a business employee.
- Off premises: A business owner or employee may be held liable for injuries that occurred off premises if the person is visibly intoxicated, or if the person was a minor, and the establishment continues to serve them alcohol. These injuries may include automobile accidents, attacks, fist fights, or other injuries.
Violations of dram shop ordinances by business establishments are considered to be only a minor offense in the state of Ohio. Offenders are usually subjected to a fee ranging from $25 to $100. However, business owners who violate dram shop laws may be subjected to liability in a court of law, including punitive damages in severe cases. For example, a severe violation may expose the business to punitive damages, which can sometimes involve very large amounts of money.
Violations of dram shop laws are serious and can involve several parties. Regardless of what party you are associated with, working with a business attorney can be essential in order ensure that your rights are represented against the many competing interests. A well-informed Ohio lawyer can keep you updated with any changes to dram shop laws, and represent you if need be.