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Defining dram shop liability in California

The chance of you encountering a drunk driver on Los Angeles’ roads is ever-present. This knowledge, however, likely will not lessen your frustrations when you are involved in an accident caused by one. The first question to enter your mind after such an incident may not be how could someone be so irresponsible as to get behind the wheel after drinking, but rather why would a person or establishment allow someone to reach such a state in the first place. Many with that same question have come to us here at Pheffer Law wondering if liability can be extended to those third parties in such cases. 

The answer to that question depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Many states have what are known as “dram shop laws,” which allow liability to be assigned to establishments that serve alcohol to patrons who then go out and cause accidents. An extension of dram shop liability are “social host laws,” which would allow you to hold an individual responsible if a person causes an accident after getting drunk on alcohol provided to them by said individual in their home or at an event. 

Most states that recognize dram shop liability state that individuals or establishments are responsible if they continue to serve alcohol to one who is visibly intoxicated. This is not so in California, whose laws absolve third parties of liability in drunk driving accidents. There is, however, an exception to this rule. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, Section 25602.1 of the state’s Business and Professions Code applies dram and social host liability to third parties that serve alcohol to a minor when said minor’s intoxication is the proximate cause of your accident. 

More information on recognizing liability after a car accident can be found here on our site. 

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