Drunk Driving And Liquor Liability

Bar & Tavern Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents

High prices for liability insurance have caused tavern and restaurant owners to protest to their legislators that they are in danger of being forced out of business. Alcohol sellers argued that drunk people should themselves bear major responsibility for their own actions and that laws about the liability of sellers of alcohol for drunk driving were too vague.

In response, in the mid and late 1980s many states have enacted or are considering measures that limit liability to specific circumstances and provide better definitions of liability, up to and including in some states, clear guidelines that businesses must follow to avoid liability.

Some insurers offer discounts on liquor liability insurance premiums for establishments whose personnel have received special training to recognize problem drinkers and effectively intervene to prevent drunk driving. In a controlled test, researchers from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute found that alcohol servers who had been through a training program were more likely to take action to limit alcohol consumption of their customers than were untrained servers.

In the area of the individual drunk driver’s liability for the damage he or she may cause, some courts are expanding that liability in a further attempt to discourage drunks from driving. For example, a Utah court permitted a woman to recover punitive damages from a drunk driver; the court said that while punitive damages could not be imposed in all drunk driving cases, the jury was entitled to find that the drunk driver acted with “actual” or “legal” malice.

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