Who Can Be Held Liable For Alcoholic Beverage Related Injuries?
Two statutes pertaining to alcohol-related injuries are relevant to this issue,
Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-10-101 and 102. This is known as “dram shop” law because old shops used to sell liquor by the “dram.”
In relevant part, Tennessee law states: “…no judge or jury may pronounce a judgment
awarding damages to or on behalf of any party who has suffered personal
injury or death against any person who has sold any alcoholic beverage or
beer, unless such jury of twelve (12) persons has first ascertained beyond a
reasonable doubt that the sale by such person of the alcoholic beverage or
beer was the proximate cause of the personal injury or death sustained and
that such person:
(1) Sold the alcoholic beverage or beer to a person known to be under the age of twenty-one (21) years and such person caused the personal injury or death as the direct result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage or beer so sold; or
(2) Sold the alcoholic beverage or beer to a visibly intoxicated person
and such person caused the personal injury or death as the direct result of the
consumption of the alcoholic beverage or beer so sold.”
Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-10-102 (2013).
The Tennessee Supreme Court discussed Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 57-10-101 and 57-10-102
in Biscan v. Brown, 160 S.W.3d 462 (Tenn. 2005). The Biscan Opinion stated:
The effect of [Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-10-101] is to make it impossible for one
who has been injured by an intoxicated person to state a claim for negligence
against the person or entity who furnished the alcoholic beverage or beer
because the statute removes, as a matter of law, the required element of legal
causation. * * * The second part of the statute carves out an exception to the first part.
It provides that a seller of alcohol may be liable to a third party for injuries if
the seller sold alcohol to a minor or if the seller sold alcohol to an obviously
intoxicated person and the sale was a proximate cause of the injuries suffered
by the third party.
The burden of proof is higher, the law is tougher and the chances are slimmer in Tennessee that the injured or killed person can recover from the establishment that sold the booze to the drunk in these cases. But it is not impossible.
What do you think? Should bars, restaurants, private clubs, and other establishments who make quite a bit of money and often serve intoxicated soon-to-be-drivers be liable for at least a portion of what they do?
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.