What are Dram Shops?
Over 200 years ago, British pubs selling gin by the “dram” (spoonful) flourished among the working class sections of England. The designation”dram shop” has been a legal term in the U.S. for nearly a century and generally refers to places where alcohol is served. Following repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933 ending Prohibition, the federal government has since left it up to individual states to decide whether to implement dram shop laws.
Dram Shop Laws in the U.S. and Nevada
Most states allow people who have been injured in alcohol-related accidents to seek damages from intoxicated drivers responsible for the accident. These same states also permit injured parties to sue bars, nightclubs, convenient stores and any other business that provides alcohol to those found guilty of causing an alcohol-related accident. Only seven states–Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia and Nevada–do not have “dram shop laws”, or laws that allow injured litigants to sue businesses that sell alcohol to inebriated drivers. However, Nevada does provide one exception to dram shop liability if the intoxicated person causing the accident was under 21 and bought alcohol illegally from a liquor establishment
According to Nev. Rev. Stat. §41.1305, “any person who serves, sells or otherwise furnishes an alcoholic beverage to another person who is 21 years of age or older is not liable in a civil action for any damages caused by the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was served, sold or furnished as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage”.
In other words, it is against the law (misdemeanor charge) to give or sell alcohol to minors, leave alcohol someplace where a minor could consume the alcohol or give funds to minors knowing the funds would be used to purchase alcohol by the minor.
Social Host Liability and Dram Shop Laws in Nevada
Nevada will permit anyone suffering physical or psychological injury due to alcohol-related accidents to seek damages against “social hosts”. In legal terms, social hosts furnish alcohol to minors or let minors drink on their property. However, remember that those injured by adult intoxicated drivers cannot pursue damages against dram shops according to Nevada law.
Example of Social Host Law Case in Nevada
Mary, a 20-year-old college student. attends a birthday party given by a neighbor, Karen, who purchases two kegs of beer to serve her party guests. Karen does not bother to check Mary’s age nor does she stop Mary from drinking beer at the party. At some point during the party, Mary decides to play pool in Karen’s basement. She has already drank quite a bit and is noticeably intoxicated. As she is stumbling down the basement stairs, she falls and collides with another person, Dennis, who is walking up the stairs. Dennis falls backward and lands at the bottom of the stairs. He hits his head and fractures an ankle.
Social host laws in Nevada give Dennis the legal right to file a personal injury claim against Karen for letting Mary, a minor, drink alcohol on her property. Since civil claims like social host liability have a two-year statute of limitations, Dennis must contact a personal injury lawyer within two years from the time of the accident to receive compensation for his pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills and possibly punitive damages.
Nevada Supreme Court Upholds Nevada’s Anti-Dram Shop Context
In 2005, Nevada’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendant, Primadonna Company, and against the plaintiff, Martin Rodriguez, who tried to argue against Nevada’s rejection of dram shop laws.
A 17-year-old and two adult males were staying at a hotel owned by Primadonna Company. After spending the evening drinking alcohol and gambling, all three individuals were asked to leave the property after they instigated several fights with other hotel guests. One of the adult men decided to drive away at a high speed. He lost control and rolled the vehicle, causing the minor child to suffer serious, permanent injuries. The minor’s guardian attempted to sue Primadonna Company, citing dram shop laws, but Nevada’s Supreme Court affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of Primadonna.
Find Out More about Nevada’s Dram Shop and Social Host Laws
If you have been hurt in an alcohol-related accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney like Eric Stovall today for a free evaluation of your case.
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