Alcohol-related Accidents

Holding bars and restaurants accountable for injuries caused by intoxicated drivers and patrons


While many people justifiably blame the intoxicated person for alcohol-related accidents and the devastation they cause, under Massachusetts law the drunk is not the only one who may bear legal responsibility. Liquor servers and licensees in Massachusetts are liable for injuries and death caused by their negligent service of alcohol under Massachusetts statutory and common law.The idea of the law is simple: to make sure that those serving and profiting by the service of liquor do so responsibly.

Very often, the actions of a bar, restaurant, or other liquor server substantially contribute to the injury or death, whether by service of alcohol to a minor or a person who is already intoxicated. Such injuries commonly occur when a drunk patron drives an automobile after being over-served. Service of liquor to a minor who then causes an accident will also give rise to liability on the part of the bar or restaurant. And service of alcohol to a minor or intoxicated person by a social host may also give rise to liability on the part of the host. SUGARMAN's personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in successfully representing persons injured or

killed as a result of the actions of an intoxicated person. SUGARMAN attorneys vigorously prosecute the claims of persons injured by the negligent service of alcohol, sometimes referred to as "dram shop" cases, whether the injury occurs as a result of drunk driving, physical or sexual assault, or other negligent conduct of an intoxicated person. SUGARMAN's cases, including the largest liquor liability verdict in Massachusetts, have been groundbreaking and have helped shape Massachusetts law so that it is more favorable to victims of these acts.

Liability of Bars and Restaurants

In Massachusetts, bars and restaurants can be liable for the actions of intoxicated patrons both inside the bar and even once they leave the bar. The injured party's lawyer must prove that the drunk patron showed visible signs of intoxication at the time of service of the liquor, or otherwise show by circumstantial evidence that the liquor licensee over-served the patron.

Real Cases

Christopher v. Father’s Huddle Cafe, Inc., et al., 57 Mass. App. Ct. 217 (2003)

The verdict, which included punitive damages against the bar and its management company for failure to provide adequate security, was upheld on appeal. The verdict was reached after a patron died off the premises of the bar, as a result of the inadequate security measure.

Recovery under Massachusetts’ liquor liability law for family of man killed in single car accident

Significant recovery for the widow and family of a man who died in a single car accident as a passenger in his friend’s vehicle. The driver of the car was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and had been drinking at a bar near the accident site. SUGARMAN attorneys brought claims on behalf of the widow and family against the driver and the establishment, under Massachusetts’ liquor liability law, alleging that the driver was negligent and that the bar had over-served him.

Liquor server’s liability

Settlement against bar that over-served a patron. The patron drove a short distance from the bar and collided with the plaintiff’s car. The drunken patron had a .27 BAC.