As we are in the midst of prom season, with graduation just around the corner, it's a good idea to review New York's dram shop laws. These laws are in place to provide legal recourse to the victims of drunk drivers and the survivors of those who were killed. They may take legal action against the bar that continued to serve the intoxicated person more alcohol.
The dram shop laws in New York state are stricter than they are for some other states. In fact, at least eight states have no dram shop on their books.
Social liability laws are much like dram shop laws, but there needs to be no purchase of alcohol. For instance, if you are hosting a high school graduation party for your teenager, and one of your teen's friends gets drunk and kills someone in a collision, you could face some liability for holding a party where the underage teen was able to consume alcohol.
Ultimately, the person who makes the decision to drink and drive is at fault. However, when that person's judgment is clouded by alcohol after being overserved, it could cause the co-defendants of a lawsuit to split the compensatory damages awarded in any ensuing litigation.
It can be challenging to prove fault in dram shop and social liability cases. For instance, in the case of a graduation party where an underage teen got drunk and killed another motorist, the plaintiff would need to prove that the parents were not just aware that there was underage drinking taking place but that the adults had provided the alcohol or otherwise encouraged the underage young people to indulge.
If your child winds up injured this prom or graduation season due to the negligent actions of a driver or the host of a party, you may decide to hold them liable for the ensuing damages.