Although not all states in the United States have dram shop laws, Nebraska is one of 30 states that do. That is, in Nebraska, if you or someone you love is injured by an intoxicated minor, you may be eligible to sue the party responsible for the minor’s intoxication for damages. We cover the basics in this blog. If you think you may have a claim, please call us right away at (402) 999-9999 and let us help you hold the right parties liable.
The Dram Shop Law
According to Nebraska Revised Statutes section 53-404, “Any person who sustains injury or property damage, or the estate of any person killed, as a proximate result of the negligence of an intoxicated minor shall have, in addition to any other cause of action available in tort, a cause of action against:
(1) A social host who allowed the minor to consume alcoholic liquor in the social host’s home or on property under his or her control;
(2) Any person who procured alcoholic liquor for the minor, other than with the permission and in the company of the minor’s parent or guardian, when such person knew or should have known that the minor was a minor; or
(3) Any retailer who sold alcoholic liquor to the minor.”
It’s important to understand that the drum shop law only applies if the intoxicated person who causes damages is a minor (under 21 years old). If the individual is of legal drinking age, you cannot sue the person or location that served them.
Let’s say that Kyle, who is 17, visits a local college bar and is served alcohol. He consumes several drinks and they keep serving him even though he is already slurring and stumbling.
Now, let’s say that an intoxicated Kyle made it out of the bar and heads to his car. If he is involved in an accident on the way home, whomever his victims may be might also be eligible to sue the bar that served Kyle. It all depends on the circumstances under which Kyle was served and the dram shop law defense.
Dram Shop Law Defense
Under Nebraska law (section 53-180.07), there is an outlined defense against any dram law violations. The law states that “proof of the following shall be an absolute defense to the charge:
(1)(a) The purchaser falsely represented in writing and supported with other documentary proof that he or she was of legal age to purchase alcoholic liquor;
(b) The appearance of such purchaser was such that an ordinary and prudent person would believe that such appearance conformed to any documentary description of appearance presented by the purchaser; and
(c) The seller was acting in good faith, in reliance upon the written representation, other documentary evidence, and the appearance of the purchaser, and in the belief the purchaser was of legal age to make such purchase; or
(2) The seller was acting with the knowledge of and in cooperation with a duly authorized law enforcement officer.”
If any of those conditions existed when Kyle was served, any victims would be ineligible to sue the bar for their loss or injury.
When in Doubt, Ask a Professional!
Whether you’re thinking about suing or you have been sued, you should consult with an experienced Nebraska personal injury lawyer to learn about your options. Contact Inkelaar Law if you have been injured by a drunk driver. Click here to learn how we can help you or give us a call today at (402) 999-9999.