Alcohol-Fueled Negligence

Alcohol is a powerful drug which can severely inhibit a person’s ability to properly and safely function. It almost goes without saying that driving, operating machinery, and performing dangerous operations such as operating a gas grill, lighting fireworks, or even working in the kitchen with sharp cutlery can put you at risk of injury. Some people who are under the influence of alcohol are so obviously drunk that serving them additional alcohol will only serve to place them or, even worse, others at risk of harm. Not that the intoxicated person is immune from liability or somehow legally untouchable, but when an innocent victim is harmed by the actions of someone who is intoxicated the law allows the victim to uncover the background and seek compensation to those who served additional alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. The laws and cases that allow these actions to exist are called dram shop laws. Dram shop laws get their rather unique name from the old liquid measure of a dram. To put it in perspective, one shot of liquor equals roughly eight drams. Dram shop laws are common throughout English speaking countries including New Zealand and Canada.


New York’s dram shop law imposes special liability to those who serve alcohol to minors or those who are visibly intoxicated. It is codified at New York General Obligations Law 11-100 and 11-101. The sweep of New York’s dram shop act is rather broad. While a person who injures him or herself as a result of alcohol fueled negligence cannot sue a vendor who sold him or her the alcohol, assuming they were visibly intoxicated, if a person kills themselves as a result of alcohol fueled negligence, their children can sue the vendor for loss of parental consortium. To recover under New York’s dram shop act, the plaintiff must establish:


  • They sustained an injury or damages as a result of an intoxicated person; and
  • The Defendant served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual who subsequently caused injuries to Plaintiff; OR
  • The Defendant served alcohol to a minor, who caused the injuries to the Plaintiff; and
  • The Defendant, by serving the alcohol, helped to further intoxicate the individual.


Not surprisingly, the insurance company will try to defend on grounds that the negligent individual was not apparently intoxicated.  All of the normal indicia of intoxication help to flag someone as having too many drinks.  Red, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, staggering gait, smell of alcohol, or a boisterous or loud demeanor.


If you were injured due to the alcohol fueled negligence of another, you need an aggressive, experienced personal injury law firm that will make all those that contributed to the alcohol induced negligence answer for your injuries. All too often insurance companies want to lump your case together with so many other cases that they handled through the years. The attorneys of Napoli, Shkolnik, PLLC will be sure to uncover the full story of what happened and who contributed to your injuries and make sure that you are treated on an individual basis. Call us at 212-397-1000 of complete our online contact information form and someone will call you in regards to your case.