Intoxicated Motorists Can Still Sue a Liquor Licensee
Mark Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys - Basking Ridge, Somerset County, New Jersey
A New Jersey appellate court decided last year that an intoxicated motorist that causes personal injuries in an automobile accident is not barred from pursuing a "dram shop" claim against the liquor licensee that served him alcohol when he was visibly intoxicated.
Although there is a law in New Jersey providing that a driver of a motor vehicle who is convicted of or pleads guilty to driving while intoxicated in connection with an accident "shall have no cause of action for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of the accident," N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(b), the appellate court determined in Voss v. Tranquilino, 992 A.2d 829 (2010), that this statute does not apply to dram shop claims involving personal injuries.v
In Voss, the plaintiff had been drinking alcoholic beverages at a restaurant just prior to operating his motorcycle, whereby he collided with a motor vehicle and sustained personal injuries. The plaintiff sued Tiffany's Restaurant for negligently serving him alcohol when he was visibly intoxicated. Tiffany's argued that the plaintiff was barred from making a claim against it by N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(b). The court, however, determined that the purpose of this statute was to reduce the cost of automobile insurance and that it does not extend to dram shop claims, which are governed by their own statute.
The Dram Shop Act specifically provides plaintiffs with the right to make claims against liquor licensees for negligently serving alcohol to intoxicated persons. The court determined that the Legislature did not intend repeal any part of the Dram Shop Act when it enacted 39:6A-4.5(b), that the two laws serve different purposes, and that the plaintiff therefore could make a claim against Tiffany's for personal injuries sustained as a result of consuming alcoholic beverages prior to his motorcycle accident.
Mark Law Firm, Lawyers handling personal injuries in Bridgewater and Basking Ridge, Somerset County, New Jersey
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