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What Is Dram Shop Liability in New Hampshire?

December 3, 2020

We’ve all seen it—a person who is overly intoxicated at the bar and ends up getting kicked or escorted out by the establishment’s security or staff. Although most wouldn’t give a second thought to what happens to that person after they’re kicked out of an establishment, there are legal implications of an establishment’s over-serving of customers. If the bar had chosen to serve the person while they were visibly intoxicated and unable to respond, the bar could be facing liability if the person subsequently left the establishment and got into a New Hampshire car accident where he hurt himself or others.

According to a recent news report, an accident involving driving under the influence left a woman dead. Based on the investigation, a man was driving his Volkswagen when the car veered off the road and crashed into some rocks and greenery nearby. His passenger died after being thrown approximately 10 to 15 feet from his car after he drove off the side of the road. Local law enforcement reported that the man initially told the police that he was the passenger of the Volkswagen, rather than the driver, and that the woman had been driving. Law enforcement reported that he was slurring his words and later admitted that he was driving after officers demanded the truth. The driver also admitted that he was operating the vehicle without a valid license, had consumed significant amounts of alcohol, and also added that he and the woman had been drinking and that she attempted to grab the steering wheel to regain control when their car began to slide off the road.

New Hampshire, like other states, has unique “dram shop” laws, where a bar or establishment that sells alcohol can be held responsible for over-serving an individual who ends up being a drunk driver and causing injuries. Dram shop laws in New Hampshire specifically state that bars or other establishments that negligently serve alcohol to minors or intoxicated people are liable for any resulting damages to a third party.

Negligent service by a bar or establishment can often be challenging to establish. The New Hampshire dram shop statute, however, states that service is negligent when the establishment reasonably knows that the person is a minor or is already intoxicated. For example, if a bartender chooses to serve a minor without ID’ing them first, this would be evidence of negligence and the bar’s failure to exercise its due diligence as an establishment that sells alcohol.

In cases involving dram shop liability, the injured party may bring legal claims against the bar or establishment, if they can prove the establishment negligently over-served the driver who operated the car under the influence. Claims involving being hit by drunk drivers and causing injuries, or wrongful death claims involving drunk drivers can all be brought alongside dram shop liability laws. New Hampshire also includes a special provision that allows a drunk driver to bring legal claims against a bar or establishment. Although the standard for this is much higher, it is a claim that may be available. An example of negligent behavior in this instance would be a bartender needlessly encouraging someone to drink more even though they were very obviously intoxicated.

Do You Need a New Hampshire Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been injured in a New Hampshire drunk driving accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates. Our dedicated team will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. To set up a free consultation today, contact us at 800-804-2004.