Massachusetts Appellate Court Discussing Dram Shop Liability in Fatal Pedestrian Accident Outside Tavern

If you were injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, it’s important to find out where that person was coming from before they caused the crash. When a bar or other establishment that offers liquor overserves a guest and that guest later causes a motor vehicle accident, the bar or establishment can in some situations be held liable. This is known as a dram shop law. Our diligent team of Boston car accident lawyers can help you determine whether you have a cause of action against another business or person in your claim so that you can receive the maximum amount of compensation possible in your case.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a case involving Massachusetts’ dram shop laws. The plaintiff asserted a wrongful death claim against a tavern, alleging that the defendants were negligent in operating the tavern because they overserved a minor. The tavern employed a head doorman who was responsible for ensuring that everyone was of legal drinking age. The doorman allowed two patrons who were eighteen-years-old to enter the tavern upwards of 200 times prior to the night of the accident.

On the night of the fatal accident, the underage drinkers reportedly got into an argument with two of-age patrons at the bar, resulting in an altercation. The doorman had noticed that the underage patrons exchanged sour looks with two other patrons who were already in the tavern. The four patrons involved in the fight left the bar to engage in a fight outside that became extremely violent. One of the individuals involved in the fight ran into a busy street where he was eventually struck by a moving vehicle. He died as a result of his injuries.

A tavern or other establishment that serves alcohol has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm to its guests. This includes preventing injuries on the premises that are caused by other patrons. This also includes preventing minors from entering the premises and consuming alcohol. The appellate court concluded that the tavern had a clear duty to protect patrons by calling the police as soon as the fight broke out. The doorman’s failure to take action was a clear breach of the tavern’s duty.

Had the individuals left the bar and got into vehicles, the doorman would still have a duty to call the police or to take some action. If a tavern or alcohol-serving establishment knows that a patron has been overserved, it has a duty to prevent him or her from getting behind the wheel of a car. This especially true where the patron is exhibiting signs of intoxication like slurred speech and drowsiness.

Countless car accidents happen as a result of intoxicated driving, leading to serious injuries and even death. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we have seen firsthand how traumatic this can be for the victim and his or her loved ones. Our dedicated team of legal professionals has handled car accident cases on behalf of individuals throughout Massachusetts. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.