What are Mississippi’s Dram Shop Laws?Mississippi Legal News
Over-serving at bars is a prevalent cause of drunk driving auto accidents in Mississippi and many other alcohol-related injuries, which can lead many injured parties feeling rightfully indignant when they’re hurt by an individual who was over-served by an irresponsible establishment. Dram shop laws allow third parties to hold alcohol providers accountable for their injuries and were created alongside the commonly held belief that preventing drunk driving is the moral obligation of all citizens and not just those who consume alcohol.
Dram Shop Liability
Mississippi Code Ann. § 67-3-73 is the key dram shop law we tend to look at and dictates third party liability for most alcohol-related car crash injuries in Mississippi. This law can widely be summed up two key points:
- Selling or providing alcohol to an individual does not inherently make establishments liable for any injury caused by that individual’s resulting impairment, as alcohol consumption is a choice that individuals must make knowingly and responsibly. This, of course, is moot if the establishment forces someone to drink alcohol or lies, stating that an alcoholic beverage contains alcohol.
- If an establishment provides alcohol to a person despite them being obviously, visually impaired, the establishment can then be held accountable for any injuries that that person goes on to cause, as they’d knowingly have had a hand in their excessive impairment. Alcohol-licensees are expected to make their sales responsibly, and furthering severe impairments directly contradicts this.
Let’s briefly go over an example to outline this law in action: An impaired individual stumbles into a bar, reeking of alcohol with slurred speech and clear intoxication. Despite that impairment, the bar then goes on to sell the individual alcohol, and they drink a few glasses before leaving. On their way home, that impaired individual gets into an accident with another driver, severely injuring them in the process. That wounded driver could then hold the bar directly, financially accountable for a large portion of their injuries under Mississippi’s pure comparative fault system.
Note that some level of proximate cause is implicitly necessary for liability to occur; if the impaired individual went home, slept for 8 hours, drank more alcohol, and then got into another crash, the bar would no longer be liable, as too much time would have passed for them to be an immediate cause of the accident. Additionally, the first party (i.e. the drunk person) could not hold the bar liable.
Social Host Liability
Providing alcohol to a minor is illegal on its own, but furthermore makes hosts and unlicensed individuals liable for any injuries that the minor goes on to cause. This is attributable to the fact that small-time social hosts usually know everyone they’re serving alcohol to, and are more responsible for failing to make sure that minors at their gatherings aren’t gaining access to alcohol illegally.
Conversely, although Mississippi Code Ann. § 67-1-83 does make it illegal for social hosts to provide alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or known alcoholics, that illegality does not provide grounds for liability to a third party; instead, the host will only be guilty of a misdemeanor, with no bearing on any car accidents or injuries that the intoxicated individual may go on to cause.
Talk to a Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a drunk individual, it’s important to look into any establishments that might have sold them alcohol beforehand to see if you might qualify for a dram shop case. Talking to a personal injury attorney in Mississippi is a great way to get started, so give Germany Law Firm, PLLC a call at (601) 401-6884 to learn more about how dram shop laws could affect you.