Differences of opinion abound on the fairness of so-called “dram shop” laws, under which an establishment that knowingly serves alcohol to an intoxicated patron can be held liable if the drunken patron then causes injury to another.
Those who believe society should promote individual responsibility say the drunken person alone should be held liable for the consequences of his or her actions. Certainly, nobody thinks an irresponsible drunk who causes injury should not be held accountable (with the exception of a North Carolina statute that holds the serving establishment liable if the drunken driver they served was underage.)
However, the truth is that serving alcohol to an intoxicated person is a bit like giving a gun to someone you know has violent tendencies — how could that not be seen as an irresponsible and negligent thing to do? If the violent person takes the gun and injures another, it is clear that the party who negligently provided the weapon should have some accountability for his or her role in the violence.
That philosophy was affirmed by a tragic case decided by the North Carolina courts last year:
Although business advocates protest such findings of liability, North Carolina personal injury attorneys representing victims of drunk drivers believe that justice for the injured can only be achieved if all responsible parties are held accountable for their part in the tragedy.
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