Thinking of hosting a party for the big game this weekend? Have you been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver coming from a party? Both of these scenarios may fall under the context of social host liability laws. Sometimes referred to as “dram shop liability”, social host liability refers to the criminal and civil law pertaining to people who serve alcohol to guests.
Does NJ Have Social Host Liability Laws?
Yes, while social host liability laws vary from state-to-state, New Jersey does allow a person injured by a drunk person–often a drunk driver–to sue the person who served the alcohol. In some states, these laws only apply when adults serve minors alcohol. In New Jersey, the law applies to all, regardless of age.
What’s an Average Settlement for a Social Host Liability Case?
The amount of compensation available in a lawsuit filed in a social host liability case varies, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Generally, in a personal injury claim, a plaintiff (the injured person filing the lawsuit) can sue for losses including medical expenses, lost income, as well as pain and suffering. The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injuries and may be limited by the level of insurance available from the defendant.
For example, take the case of someone injured by a driver who drank too much at a friend’s birthday party hosted in a private home, was obviously drunk, but got behind the wheel anyway. The drunk driver caused an accident resulting in injuries to another driver or passenger who suffered broken bones and internal injuries requiring weeks of hospital and rehabilitation stays and months of recovery. In this case, medical bills will be quite high and the injured victim will miss months of work which may result in a higher settlement award because the losses are extensive.
Proving a Social Host Liability Claim in New Jersey
In order to win a claim, New Jersey’s social host liability laws require that the injured person prove certain elements of their claim. Most critically, you must prove that the person responsible for the accident and caused the injuries was “visibly intoxicated” in front of the party’s host. Further, the host must have known or reasonably presumed that the intoxicated person may operate a motor vehicle.
Of note, the host of the party may be liable for the injuries caused by the drunk driver but is not liable for the injuries suffered by the drunk driver’s own actions.
What’s the Time Limit for Filing a Social Host Liability Claim in New Jersey?
In most instances, an injury claim must be filed 2 years form the date of the accident according to New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, it's in your best interest to contact an injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Evidence and recollections fade over time and it's important to ensure the legal process and procedure is followed to protect your rights.
Get Help After an Accident
It may be difficult to assess whether or not you have a valid social host liability claim. If you’ve been involved or injured in an accident, it's in your best interest to contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that you believe was caused by another person's negligence, contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law to review your case with a skilled New Jersey injury lawyer. Our firm has extensive experience in successfully representing a wide range of personal injury cases, and we pride ourselves in being able to provide clients with the passionate representation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.