Roswell Dram Shop LawyersLast updated on: July 31, 2022
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Everything changes when you or someone you love is the victim of a serious drunk driving accident or other alcohol-related accident. Suddenly you may be dealing with mounting medical bills and damage to your property that requires costly repair. You may also be in emotional distress from what happened. Filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of Roswell dram shop lawyers from Zinda Law Group can help you recover compensation for those things.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an alcohol-related accident in Roswell, the drinking establishment that served the intoxicated person may be liable instead of or in addition to the intoxicated party. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our Roswell dram shop lawyers, and we will work hard to help you get your life back on track.
Personal injury Attorneys are Very Familiar with Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop laws are laws that place liability on a dram shop such as a bar or restaurant for the actions of an intoxicated person who consumed alcohol at that establishment. In fact, any licensed drinking establishment may be liable for an accident caused by one of its drinking patrons.
Dram shop laws are intended to promote responsibility in drinking establishments when it comes to serving alcohol. If they might be responsible for whatever their customer damages, they will be more likely to stop serving him when he becomes obviously drunk. A few more drinks on his tab are not worth a possible six-figure lawsuit if he injures or kills someone while drunk driving after leaving the establishment.
Suing a responsible party might seem too expensive, difficult, or just not worth it, but the experience and expertise of the attorneys at Zinda Law Group can make sure it isn’t any of those things. You deserve to have professional legal advice when seeking to recover damages for what has happened to you. Contacting our office in Roswell can be an important step in that direction.
Can I Sue a Bar for Drunk Driving in Roswell?
Yes, depending on the circumstance, you can sue a bar for a drunk driving accident in Roswell. Due to dram shop liability, a drinking establishment can be held liable for the actions of its customers if it can be proven that the establishment did not obey New Mexico Statute Section 41-11-1, also called the Dram Shop Liability Act. This statute is comprised of three elements, all of which must be proven in order for the drinking establishment to be held liable for the actions of its patron.
The Three Elements for Proving Dram Shop Liability in Roswell
In Roswell, the Dram Shop Liability Act established that a victim of a drunk driving accident or other alcohol-related accident may bring a lawsuit against a drinking establishment if it can be proven that the drinking establishment:
1. Sold or served alcohol to a person who was intoxicated.
2. Should have reasonably known that the person buying or receiving alcoholic beverages was intoxicated.
3. Knew from the circumstances that the person buying or receiving alcoholic beverages was intoxicated.
This means that any reasonable employee or manager of the drinking establishment would have recognized that the intoxicated patron was visibly intoxicated. If an individual had his senses impaired from intoxication but showed no outward signs of intoxication and was behaving normally, it would be more difficult to prove that the individual’s intoxication was “reasonably” apparent.
While someone who is showing no outward signs of intoxication might not reasonably appear to be intoxicated, that does not mean a reasonable person could not otherwise know of a person’s intoxication based on circumstances. For instance, an individual who has bought many very strong drinks can be assumed to be intoxicated even if he does not show any clear outward signs.
Another example is an individual who has spoken at length within his server’s hearing about the many drinks that he consumed earlier in the night. It can be assumed he is intoxicated from the amount of alcohol he is known to have consumed. Companions of the drinking patron may also have talked about how much he or she has been drinking.
The New Mexico Statutes defines “intoxication” when discussing dram shop liability. In short, a person is intoxicated if their physical and mental senses are diminished or impaired by consuming alcohol, to the extent that they are unable to respond to situations the way a sober person would.
Landmark Roswell Dram Shop Drunk Driving Cases
Dean Durand was driving while intoxicated on August 31, 2003, when he crashed into Daniel Gutierrez, who was riding his motorcycle. The accident was fatal for the motorcycle rider.
Gutierrez’s estate sued the drinking establishment, Meteor Monument, which provided Durand with alcohol. This bar was also Durand’s employer. In the case, Gutierrez v. Meteor Monument LLC, Meteor argued that there was no evidence to demonstrate that Durand was “apparently intoxicated,” as required by the Dram Shop Act.
However, the Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled that circumstantial evidence could be used to prove that Durand’s intoxication should have been apparent to those serving him. In this case, Durand was a known alcoholic, and his fellow employees knew he became intoxicated while working.
Furthermore, his fellow employees had been drinking while working that day, and the results of a breathalyzer test done at the scene of the accident showed he was drunk. These were all permissible ways to establish apparent intoxication, even though there was no evidence demonstrated by Durand’s behavior that he was intoxicated.
Who Can Recover in a Roswell Dram Shop Lawsuit?
In a dram shop lawsuit, a drinking establishment is liable for damages committed by an intoxicated party against a third, unrelated party. Dram shop liability does not generally recover damages for the individual who was served alcohol by the drinking establishment, however. New Mexico law states, “No person who was sold or served alcoholic beverages while intoxicated shall be entitled to collect any damages…against the [drinking establishment] who sold or served the alcoholic beverages.”
Nevertheless, the law provides that there may be an exception to this regulation if the establishment with gross negligence acted with reckless disregard for the safety of the person who was sold or served the alcoholic beverages. The Roswell dram shop attorneys at Zinda Law Group will be able to help you determine whether you have a dram shop case against the drinking establishment whose actions ultimately led to your injuries.
Another stipulation in New Mexico dram shop law is that drinking establishments cannot be held liable for knowing about a patron’s previous intoxication unless they genuinely are aware of it, such as in the earlier example in which a patron discussed his previous alcohol consumption with the server. If that is not the case, a drinking establishment is not chargeable with knowledge of previous drinking a person did, becoming intoxicated at other locations unknown to them.
Put another way, a server bringing a customer twenty alcoholic beverages in an evening should know he is intoxicated, even if he was not acting visibly intoxicated. But if a server brings one drink to an individual who is not visibly intoxicated, and the server did not know and had no reason to know that the individual had already had nineteen drinks at the bar down the street, the establishment cannot be charged with knowing the intoxicated individual had already consumed drinks at the other bar.
Dram Shop Laws Versus Social Host Laws in Roswell
Dram shop liability and social host liability are often discussed together because both involve holding providers of alcohol potentially being responsible for the actions of those to whom they provide alcohol. While the “dram shop” in dram shop laws refers to a licensed drinking establishment, a “social host” is an individual who does not have a license and does not sell alcohol. A common example is a person throwing a party at her home and providing her guests with alcohol—if that guest injured someone while intoxicated, the dram shop law would not apply.
In some states, social host liability is applicable under a dram shop law, leaving social hosts liable for serving alcohol to a guest the host knows is intoxicated. But in New Mexico, social host laws do not share the same standards as New Mexico dram shop laws. In Roswell, people who gratuitously provide alcoholic beverages to guests in a social setting may not be held liable for damages caused by an intoxicated guest unless they provided them recklessly, disregarding the rights of others or even the social guest.
This standard is slightly different from the standards regarding dram shop liability. Proving that a person served someone recklessly can be very difficult to prove. Roswell dram shop attorneys have experience in meeting such challenges. If you were injured in an alcohol-related accident by an individual who received alcohol from a social host, talk to a Zinda Law Group lawyer to see what your options are.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Dram Shop Law in New Mexico?
Siblings Michael and Desiree Mendoza attended a wedding reception on July 9, 2006, at a casino operated by Tamaya Enterprises. Despite being obviously intoxicated, the pair continued to be served alcohol by casino employees.
When they drove off, their vehicle rolled over and both siblings died. The lawsuit Mendoza v. Tamaya Enterprises, Inc. sought damages against the casino under dram shop liability. The casino argued that because the casino was on tribal land, state law did not apply. They believed tribal law only applied, and the case should be heard in tribal court.
The Supreme Court of New Mexico eventually sided with the casino, noting that the Dram Shop Liability Act only applies to drinking establishments licensed under New Mexico state law. Because the casino was on tribal land, it was licensed under tribal law and not state law; thus the Dram Shop Liability Act did not apply.
However, the court also held that it was possible to pursue a common law suit against the casino. This meant that the plaintiffs could sue, but they could not argue that the casino had violated the Dram Shop Liability Act. Instead, they had to prove that the casino had generally been negligent in their conduct.
This case demonstrates two important elements of Roswell dram shop law. Firstly, dram shop liability as codified in New Mexico state law does not apply to tribal land. Therefore, drinking establishments licensed under tribal law cannot be sued for violating the Dram Shop Liability Act because the Act does not apply to those establishments. However, it is still possible to bring a personal injury lawsuit for the actions of an intoxicated customer against a drinking establishment on tribal land.
Damages in a Roswell Dram Shop Liability Lawsuit
Oftentimes a drinking establishment may be a financially better choice for a lawsuit than the intoxicated individual himself, because commercial establishments will typically have more insurance. An individual may not have any insurance and thus end up judgement-proof, meaning an injured individual may win a personal injury lawsuit, but no money can be collected from the defendant who has no money. With a commercial drinking establishment, there is a higher chance of actually recovering damages.
In New Mexico, there is a maximum amount that can be awarded in a Roswell dram shop case:
1. Maximum $50,000 – for bodily injury to or the death of one person
2. Maximum $100,000 – for bodily injury to or the death of two or more persons
The statute also specifies the maximum amount that can be awarded for damage to property. The amount is $20,000 for property damage in each transaction or occurrence.
At Zinda Law Group, our attorneys will fight to present your claim as effectively as possible so that you have the best chance of getting the maximum settlement New Mexico law allows for your injuries. Call the drunk driving attorneys in Roswell who offer a free case evaluation so that we can hear the details of your specific circumstance.
Get Help from Roswell Dram Shop Lawyers
After being the victim of a drunk driving accident or dealing with the fallout of someone you love being the victim of such an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’ll get justice for what’s happened. With experienced personal injury attorneys like the Roswell dram shop lawyers at Zinda Law Group, you won’t have to.
It can be difficult to contemplate suing a drinking establishment, dealing with insurance companies, and gathering all the evidence required. Most people need the help of professionals to accomplish everything needed for filing a claim on time. Zinda Law Group has extensive practice in pursuing dram shop and drunk driving cases, and our Roswell drunk driving lawyers have successfully achieved settlements for numerous victims and their families.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe you should focus on recovering emotionally and physically from your accident, not wondering if you will have access to high-quality legal counsel. That’s why Zinda Law Group practices a contingency fee arrangement for all of our cases.
The lawyers at Zinda Law Group will pursue your case aggressively, seeking the maximum possible settlement for you. Our clients only pay if we are able to secure a positive settlement or verdict; this is our “No Win, No Fee Guarantee.” Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our dram shop attorneys today.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.