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Dram Shop Liability for Car Accidents in Tennessee

Self-serve taprooms are on the brink of revolutionizing the bar industry by adding the same elements that make self-serve frozen yogurt places so wildly popular. For example, Pour Taproom is a chain of bars that sell a wide variety of craft beer, but with a slight twist: customers pour their own drinks. Customers can pour as much, or as little, as they like and pay by the ounce. Naturally, when Pour Taproom attempted to obtain a beer license for its newest establishment in Knoxville, it raised some red flags.

The Knoxville City Council has voiced legitimate safety concerns over the bar’s method of serving customers. The self-serve policy seems to be ripe with potential Tennessee dram shop lawsuits, which is one reason why the Knoxville City Council raised the possibility of an ordinance that would effectively ban self-serve bars. Knoxville Beer Board chair, Brenda Palmer, explained that the new ordinance would only permit service of beer from the permit holder, the permit holder’s employees, or agents of the permit holder.

Board members and concerned citizens are worried that self-serve bars’ new style of service could be dangerous. With semi-unregulated drinking and with the option to pour more beer than would traditionally be served, there is the definite possibility of an influx of serving alcohol to people who are too intoxicated.

Under Tennessee law, someone may not be automatically liable for merely furnishing alcohol to a person who then goes and harms another. However, Tennessee’s dram shop law does allow for recovery if a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the sale of alcohol was the proximate cause of injury, and that such sale of alcohol was to a visibly intoxicated individual who then injures another as a result of consumption of the alcoholic beverage(s). That is to say, if alcohol is sold to a visibly intoxicated individual who then harms another, the harmed individual can have a case against the person or entity who sold alcohol to the intoxicated individual.

Many are concerned that with a self-serve bar it will be difficult, if not impossible, for bartenders to adequately monitor customers’ alcohol intake and ensure that no alcohol is sold to visibly intoxicated individuals. Because customers can pour as much beer as they like, it will be difficult to know how much an individual has had to drink. For example, a customer may only activate their bracelet 3 times, but consume copious amounts of beer. A traditional bar will usually have bartenders who pour drinks themselves and actively monitor how much alcohol they serve to customers. Self-serve bars, however, create the very real possibility of over-serving customers without even realizing it.

If the trend of self-serve bars continues, it’s logical to assume there could be a rise in dram shop litigation. If you have been injured by an intoxicated individual, you should call a Knoxville drunk driving accident lawyer to assist you in recovering damages such as hospital bills, therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition to pursuing claims against the drunk driver, you may have claims against the bar owner under Tennessee’s dram shop law. Thus, an experienced car accident lawyer will understand the importance of investigating all potential avenues of recovery to help you recover full compensation for your losses.

For a free consultation with a Knoxville personal injury attorney, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004. Our team of over 30 injury attorneys and 120 support staff members is ready to take your call today and let you know how we may be able to assist.