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California Liquor Liability Laws

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 29, 2016

Each state has different rules when it comes to the consumption and distribution of alcohol. Due to an increased chance of an accident while intoxicated, states must account for the potential liabilities involved. In California, our liquor liability laws are different from many other states; those involved share responsibility, depending on the extenuating circumstances surrounding the accident.

Dram Shop Laws in California

Each state has rules against vendors or party hosts who provide alcohol to someone who ends up being responsible for causing an injury to someone else because of their drunkenness. The state calls these rules Dram Shop laws, and they allow the injured person to seek compensation from the alcohol vendor, not just the person who caused the injury.

In California, Dram Shop laws are significantly limited to protect vendors more than in other states. If the person who caused the injury is of legal drinking age, the law doesn’t hold the vendor liable for any damages that might have occurred because of drinking. However, if vendors serve alcohol to a minor who injures someone else, they may be responsible for the incident. In California, these rules apply only to licensed vendors and not to party or event hosts.

Criminal Liability Laws

California law makes it a misdemeanor to sell or give alcohol to a habitual drunkard or to a person who is obviously intoxicated. In these situations, the system can hold the server liable. A conviction for selling alcohol to people in these cases carries penalties including fines, jail time, and probation. It does not matter if the person receiving the alcohol is of legal drinking age or not, in either case, the law holds the vendor or host responsible for damages.

A vendor can be liable for damages caused by its patrons in California in other situations. If another patron warns vendors of danger but they fail to cut the drinker off, the law could hold them liable. If the vendor allowed a person on the premises whom they knew had a propensity for causing trouble or let a fight continue longer than they reasonably should have, the court may also hold the vendor liable.

Drinking on the Job Laws

When employers blur the lines about when employees can and cannot drink at their place of work, incidents such as the “On the Border” restaurant case occur. In this case, an employee who had gotten intoxicated after his shift chose to drive home and struck a skateboarder with his car. The injured party sued for damages, claiming the restaurant was negligent about its rules regarding drinking on the job.

Although the employee was technically no longer on his shift, On the Border lost the case and paid over $1,546,618 in damages to the injured party. The restaurant was found guilty of negligence since the owners permitted and even encouraged employees to drink after their shifts (On the Border benefitted from its employees drinking at the restaurant), despite knowing the employee would be driving home.

Get Help With Your Liquor Liability Lawsuit

If you’ve been the victim of an accident involving liquor liability, don’t hesitate to call the expert attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys for reliable, effective defense. We’ve fought and won cases against establishments that have acted negligently, and we have won compensation for our clients’ pain, suffering, and medical costs.

Our personal injury lawyers are the best in the business in San Diego and have won multiple awards over the years for our 20,000-square-foot legal center, variety of resources for clientele, and passionate expertise regarding all facets of the law. When it comes to defending your rights in a liquor liability accident, trust the best. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.






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