Alcohol Related Injuries and Accidents

Massachusetts dram shop law involves claims against Massachusetts restaurants, bars, or party hosts who negligently over-serve their patrons. Throughout the Commonwealth, establishments make certain they comply with the law and ensure the safety of their guests. Some places, however, skirt the rules and ignore safety requirements.

Massachusetts General Law 138 § 69 states that no alcoholic beverage shall be sold or delivered on any premises to an intoxicated person. Bartenders, servers, managers and owners have a responsibility to observe slurred speech, rowdiness and other behaviors associated with intoxication. Owners are also required to provide proper training for staff to monitor behavior and address intoxicated patrons.

Over-serving guests is against the law, and it’s just as deadly as failing to have a proper exit strategy in case of a fire or allowing patrons to bring weapons into a nightclub. Too often, over-served guests are so intoxicated they’re unable to make even the simplest decisions, like whether to get into their car and drive home.

Everyone likes to have a good time, and not every death from an over-served customer is the fault of a restaurant or tavern owner. However, in those circumstances where a restaurant cuts corners, its only reasonable to hold it responsible. After all, if every other tavern or restaurant owner has to expend resources and play by the rules, shouldn’t the one your family is in do the same?

What compensation is available for Dram Shop and Liquor Liability claims?

While every injury case is different, restaurants and taverns typically have insurance policies covering accidents caused by over-serving. When that’s the case, an injured party may make a claim against the establishment’s insurance policy for up the amount of the policy limits. Anything owed beyond that would be the responsibility of the establishment to pay.

I was attacked in the tavern parking lot by a drunk patron. Could the tavern be held liable?

It could. Not every fight, and not every intoxicated person is the fault of a tavern or restaurant owners’ actions. But in cases where the patron is visibly intoxicated, and is continuously over-served, then you may very well have a dram shop or a negligent security action against the establishment. Compensation could help pay for your hospital bills, any reconstructive surgeries, and lost wages.

I was hit by a drunk driver, but I don’t know where he or she became intoxicated.

That’s common. Police investigations and formal discovery tools like depositions can help reveal which restaurants and taverns are responsible for over-serving. Contact a personal injury lawyer for help.

What should I do if I was injured as a result of an intoxicated patron?

Call Combies Hanson, P.C. We offer a free consultation to help you determine the best course of action moving forward. To learn more, call our office or email us at

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