Archives for November 2020

Understanding Liquor Liability & How To Avoid Claims


Hand of bartender pouring a lager beer in tap

Having an in-depth understanding of liquor liability is one of the ways of gaining tips on how to avoid claims. The salient factor about such liability is the insurance part. Therefore when discussing liability as regards liquor, it is almost impossible to do so without indulging in liquor liability insurance. The aforesaid insurance cover is among the most important covers that anyone who is in the business of selling or producing liquor can hold. The common definition given to liquor liability insurance is; a coverage whose role is to help in the compensation of an injured party whose injuries resulted from an intoxicated person who is a client of the policyholder or whose intoxication is as a result of the liquor offered by the policyholder.

Does the Federal Government Have Uniformity on Liquor Laws?

The liability of parties whereby a third party sustains injuries stemming from the actions of an intoxicated persons vary from one state to another. Therefore, in the event, an injured party institutes a compensation claim, the factors, legal provisions and evidence that will be taken into account might be different from the ones another state puts into account. Simply put, liquor laws vary from one state to another. Hence such laws are some of the very many laws that the federal republic has left to the discretion of individual states.

The Legal Framework Regulating Liability as Regards Liquor

Dram Laws

The term dram shop is not familiar to most people despite several people having visited one before. A dram shop defined is a commercial establishment that deals in the selling of alcohol, e.g. a bar, tavern etc… Dram laws defined are laws that impose liability on the mentioned establishments in the event of an injury caused by their patrons. The best example is where an intoxicated patron goes ahead and causes a car crash resulting in serious bodily harm or fatal injuries to a third party. In such a scenario, the mentioned law will come into effect to hold the commercial establishment responsible for selling alcohol to the patron that caused the accident.

States That Have Enacted Dram Shop Liability Laws

Currently, a total number of 44 states in the US have in place dram shop liability statutes whose sole intention is to extend the liability of injuries occasioned by a patron to a third party to the dram shop. Some states put dram shops to their defense regardless of the facts at hand. In such a scenario, for the dram shop to avoid liability they have the mandate to show to the court or prosecuting authority that the patron in question was not intoxicated in their premises or they did not appear intoxicated while at the shop.

In other states, the mandate to proof that the dram shop was the source of the intoxication is upon the claimant. Further, the claimant will have to prove that the injuries sustained resulted from the intoxication of the subject patron. It is important also to take note that some homeowners insurance policies also cover liability as regards liquor to a certain extent, usually between $100 000 and $300 000.

Laws on ‘Bring Your Own Bottle’ Establishments

Bring your own bottle establishments to have in recent times been on the rise. One dilemma that most people battle with is understanding the extent of the liability of such establishments in the event a patron dining with them injures a third party. Well, when it comes to such establishments, there is an exception to the extent of their liability. For the establishments that are not in the business of selling liquor but provide patrons with a place to come with their own drink and enjoy, then such establishments can not be held liable for the injuries caused to a third party by their patrons. It is highly advisable that such establishments expressly state the kind of service they offer to avoid liability.

It is important to note that there is great importance that has been placed on responsible drinking. Therefore even insurance companies from time to time will offer discounts to policyholders that contribute to the responsible drinking campaign through educating both their employees and patrons on the importance of drinking responsibly.

How to Reduce Risk of Liability Claims

While most liquor establishments hope that their patrons will avoid any injury-causing actions, still some patrons might end up causing injury hence subsequent liability on the establishment. Therefore every commercial establishment selling liquor must ensure it holds liability insurance.

Here are some of the ways through which commercial liquor establishments can reduce the risk of liability claims:

Instituting Policies & Procedures

A good number of commercial liquor establishments have policies & procedure that has to be adhered to by both employees and patrons. Policies like no entry for patrons without IDs and not serving liquor to already intoxicated patrons have in most instances, helped such establishments avoid liability.

Employee Training

Owners and the managerial team of commercial liquor establishments should at all times ensure that their staff are properly trained. Enrolling your employees for classes like liquor serving safety class, Training for Intervention Procedures, commonly known as TIPS e.t.c, can help in the reduction of liability.


Insurance coverage for liability as regards liquor is one of the ways of reducing risk. Alcohol is likely to impair a patron’s judgement and subsequently end up becoming aggressive against a third party. Therefore even after involving all risk-reducing measures, always ensure that your dram shop has the right insurance coverage.

Interested in learning more? Check out our Liquor Liability Product Page & Speak With An Agent Today



CityScape Insurance, LLC have used their best efforts in preparing this website resource. CityScape Insurance, LLC makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this webpage and specifically disclaims any implied definitions and/or usage implied usage within. The accuracy and completeness of the information provided are not guaranteed or warranted to produce any particular results. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other personal or commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damage.