Dram Shop Liability


Dram Shop Liability Laws in New York City

If you were injured by someone who was intoxicated, such as a drunk driver, you could have several options for financial compensation. In addition to suing the at-fault party directly, you could also have a claim against a bar, restaurant, or another establishment that overserved the individual alcohol (or served them alcohol at all, if the individual was a minor). If the person who caused your injury was underage (meaning they were under the legal drinking age of 21), and they were served alcohol by a “social host,” such as a friend or coworker, you could also have a claim against the host.

These types of claims are known as “dram shop” and “social host” claims, respectively, and they are very complex. The law regarding the establishment and social host liability is very narrow. It is important that you have an experienced attorney by your side who can help you fully understand your legal rights and options. We assist injury victims throughout New York City.

Call us today at  516-221-7900 or contact us online using our free and secure submission form. We are available 24/7 to assist you and offer FREE initial consultations.

What Is a “Dram Shop” Claim?

A dram shop claim is a liability claim brought against an establishment or vendor that provided alcohol to an individual who later caused injury to another person. The name comes from an old-fashioned method of measuring alcohol by units known as “drams.” Today, dram shop liability laws apply to any individual, establishment, or vendor that sells or provides alcohol to others in a commercial capacity.

An establishment or vendor can be held liable under New York’s dram shop laws if it:

  • Sells or provides alcohol to someone who is “visibly” intoxicated
  • Sells or provides alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21

In either situation, if the person who was provided alcohol goes on to cause injury or bodily harm to someone else, the establishment or vendor could be legally liable for the injured party’s damages. For example, if a bartender serves alcohol to a 20-year-old, and that 20-year-old causes a car accident after leaving the bar and driving away, the victims of the accident could hold the bar liable for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The same is true if a restaurant serves alcohol to someone who is already visibly intoxicated, and that person falls when exiting the restaurant, colliding with another guest and causing them injury.

How Is Social Host Liability Different from Dram Shop Liability?

Also known as the “alcohol purchase age law,” New York’s social host liability law is similar to but slightly different from the state’s dram shop liability law. As the name suggests, the social host law applies to “social hosts,” that is, individuals who provide alcohol to others in a non-commercial capacity. For example, someone who has a party at their house, or a parent who allows their child to drink with friends in their home, would be considered a “social host.”

The social host law also only applies when alcohol is served to underage individuals. So, if an adult provides alcohol to another person under the age of 21 or knowingly allows an underage individual to consume alcohol on their property or under their supervision, they can be held liable if the underage person causes injury or harm to another. A social host cannot be held legally liable if they serve alcohol to someone over the age of 21, even if that person was visibly intoxicated.

When Can You File a Dram Shop Liability Claim?

If you were injured by a drunk driver or someone else who was intoxicated, and you believe you may have a case against the establishment or vendor that served them alcohol, it is important that you act quickly. In New York, your time to file a dram shop liability lawsuit is limited to just three years from the date of injury (in most cases). While this may seem like a long time, the months and years can fly by quickly. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that evidence will be lost—and the more difficult it will be to prove your case.

We strongly urge you to reach out to our Long Island dram shop liability lawyer at the Law Office of Joseph J. Perrini, III right away. Even if you are unsure whether you have a case, we can meet with you for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to help you understand your options. With nearly 30 years of legal experience, Attorney Joseph J. Perrini, III, is well-versed in these complex claims. He knows the challenges you face, and he knows how to fight back against the insurance company’s efforts to dispute, devalue, or deny your claim. If necessary, he is prepared to aggressively advocate for you at trial.

Damages in Dram Shop Liability Cases

Whether they get behind the wheel of a car, assault someone in a bar, or otherwise harm another person, an intoxicated individual can cause catastrophic bodily injury and even death. This can lead to a wide range of damages for both victims and their loved ones.

Depending on the specifics of your case, our firm can help you seek compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical care costs
  • Lost income/wages
  • Future lost earnings
  • Loss of or diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses

Note that every case is unique, and it is not possible to accurately predict how much your case may be worth without first going over the specific factors involved. However, should you choose the Law Office of Joseph J. Perrini, III to represent you in your dram shop liability case, you can count on us to fight for every penny you deserve.

We have recovered tens of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and we offer all our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no out-of-pocket costs when you hire our firm, and we only collect legal fees if we recover compensation for you.

Call us today at  516-221-7900 or contact us online using our free and secure submission form. We are available 24/7 to assist you and offer FREE initial consultations.


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Successful Verdicts & Settlements
Pedestrian Hit By Driver$2,000,000
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$2,000,000.00 to a retired woman who sustained numerous hand and wrist fractures requiring surgery while walking into the street to hail a cab.
Car Accident $1,950,000
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$1,950,000.00 to plaintiff who sustained fractures to his lower extremity when involved in an intersection accident.
Bus Accident $1,875,000
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$1,875,000.00 to an administrative assistant who was struck in the rear by a bus and sustained cervical and lumbar herniations requiring surgery.
Car Accident $1,450,000
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$1,450,000.00 to a student that was injured in a Florida highway accident who sustained a lumbar herniated disc requiring surgical intervention.
Car Accident $1,150,000
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$1,150,000.00 to student who sustained herniated discs requiring surgery while a passenger in a van that was cut off by another motor vehicle.
Automobile Accident $1,000,000
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(full policy settlement) to a middle age man involved in an automobile accident who claimed a herniated discs at L4-S1 requiring a lumbar fusion surgery. The defense contended that the herniations were pre-existing and not related to the accident.


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