The lawyers at Stanzler Levine have decades of experience handling liquor liability cases. The term "liquor liability" covers any situation where a server or provider of intoxicating beverages is sought to be held liable in damages for causing injury or death. There are many diffrent legal standards that apply to liquor liability cases in Massachusetts, which standard applies depends on the circumstances. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been injured by an intoxicated individual, you should contact Stanzler Levine to discuss your case and to preserve your legal rights.
Liability of a Licensed Establishment
Massachusetts law recognizes a cause of action against a bar or restaurant as a seller of alcoholic beverages for serving an intoxicated patron who negligently operated an automobile while intoxicated, causing injury to another person.
In order to prevail against a licensed establishment for injuries caused by serving alcoholic beverages, one must prove that the driver was a customer of the defendant bar; the driver was served intoxicating beverages; while intoxicated, and in circumstances such that the server knew or reasonably should have known that the customer was intoxicated; the customer then operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated; the operation was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant bar; a person of ordinary prudence would not have served the customer; and the customer's driving caused an injury that was within the scope of the risk.
Liability of a Social Host
A social host (such as a homeowner) is liable to a person injured by an intoxicated guests negligence, where a social host knew or should have known that their guest was drunk and nevertheless gave them or permitted them to take an alcoholic drink thereafter. In order for a social host to be liable, they must furnish, pay for, or have control over the alcohol served. Social host liability is not limited to the home. One who buys drinks for another at a licensed establishment may also be liable as a social host. An employer-host is also held to the same standard of care as a social host.
Serving a Minor
The sale of alcohol to a minor by a licensed establishment is evidence of negligence in an action for damages. A licensed establishment is not strictly liable for serving the minor and therefore one must prove that the establishment was negligent. It is not necessary that liquor be served directly to the minor in order for the licensee to be liable. An establishment is liable if it knew or reasonably should have known that it was furnishing alcohol to minors.
We successfully handle liquor liability cases from the insurance claims level through trial and appeal if necessary. While the vast majority of Massachusetts liquor liability claims settle with the insurance company without the need for a trial, at Stanzler Levine we prepare every case as though it’s were going to be presented to a jury. Our trial preparation generally leads to larger settlements in liquor liability cases, while avoiding the uncertainty and stress of a trial.