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When a person drives drunk and causes an accident, they can be held liable for any injuries or deaths they cause. However, they may not be the only party responsible for the accident. If an establishment or social host served alcohol to the individual before the accident, they may be held liable too. This is possible through the state’s DRAM shop and social host laws. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney for assistance.

DRAM Shop Laws

DRAM shop laws exist to protect victims of drunk driving accidents. The law makes it illegal for establishments to serve a person who is visibly intoxicated. This includes taverns, bars, pubs, restaurants, and more. Instead, they are required to look for signs of intoxication and refuse service. Signs can be slurred speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes, difficulty finishing sentences, incoherent speech, stumbling, falling, impaired fine-motor skills, and more. If the alcohol-licensed establishment continues to serve, they can be liable for causing a drunk driving accident. DRAM shop laws are applied under the following conditions:

  • An employee of the establishment serves alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated
  • The decision to serve the intoxicated customer directly caused injuries and damages

Social Host Laws

It is important to know that people who host parties of their own have this same obligation. Social host laws can hold a host legally responsible if an underage guest consumes alcohol at their party and goes on to cause an accident. This is the case even if the host was unaware that a minor was drinking at their event. Social host laws can be applied in the event of the following:

  • If a minor consumes alcohol at your party and is injured or killed in an accident
  • If a minor consumes alcohol at your party and injures or kills someone else

How Long Do I Have to Sue?

Injured parties must file a claim to pursue legal action within the statute of limitations, or they can lose their chance to do so. In New York, the statute of limitations for DRAM shop lawsuits is three years from the date of the injury or death. An exception to this is if they are filing against a municipal, county, or government entity/employee. When this happens, a Notice of Claim must be filed within six months of the injury or death.

Contact our Firm

If you have been injured in a New York City car accident, Swerling Law is here to help. Our firm understands the challenges that many people face after being hurt in an accident and is prepared to help you receive an award of significant compensation to ease some of your burdens. To schedule a consultation with an experienced construction site accident attorney in New York City, contact Swerling Law today.


Settlement to a barista who slipped and fell on a defective stairwell while working for Starbucks who sustained back injuries requiring multiple surgeries in 2012.


Settlement to a woman who was assaulted and sustained back/hip injuries in 2015.


Verdict to a high school student who was assaulted by a school dean during her lunch period dislocating her hip in 2014.


Settlement to a man who was run over by a dump truck on a Brooklyn street causing him to sustain multiple injuries, including but not limited to a broken leg and detached urethra in 2019.


Settlement to a woman who slipped and fell down a wet stairwell in a New York City Housing Authority building requiring a back surgery in 2018.

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