Liquor Liability

Dram Shop laws (liquor liability statutes) currently exist in 43 states, including our great state of Tennessee, and the District of Columbia, in some way, shape or form. The laws vary in scope by state, but fundamentally make any business which sells alcoholic drinks or a host (commercial or private) who serves liquor to a person who is obviously intoxicated or close to it, strictly liable to anyone subsequently injured by the drunken patron or guest.

This would include vehicular injuries due to drunk driving, but also any injury or death caused by a physical altercation with the intoxicated party. It also includes injury caused by person under 21 years of age that you served, intoxicated or not!

Back in 1986, the Tennessee legislature created T.C.A. § 57-10-101 and T.C.A. § 57-10-102 in order to provide a statutory scheme for Tennessee Dram Shop liability.  These two statutes define when a bar, retailer, restaurant or host can be found responsible for selling or providing alcohol to an individual that later causes injuries or death to another person while intoxicated from that alcohol.

The states that do not currently have any dram shop statutes on the books are Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.

The term Dram Shop is very old, it’s first recorded use occurring in 1725. Originally a British word referring to a bar, tavern, liquor store or similar commercial establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold. Historically, it was a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid that was originally about a teaspoon, but increased in volume over time. The term “a wee dram” was used to ask for a small measure of Scotch whiskey. 

Today, the use of “dram” is very limited. Usually as it relates to the law ascribing at least partial liability to the owner of an establishment that served said dram, to an already intoxicated person(s) who subsequently injured or killed another as a result of their intoxication.

So what is the “dram shop” owner to do? What about an event host or other entity that serves alcohol to patrons? What about social host liability? The answer is simple. Liquor Liability Insurance. Just as you would cover your business or home by purchasing general liability insurance, those who may serve an occasional “wee dram” to patrons or guests, should also be covered with a specific liquor liability policy.

Here at Builtwell Insurance we offer all types of liability insurance, both general and specific to a number of industry verticals, from manufacturing to medical, construction to liquor liability. Call today at 423-668-4888.