One piece of legal phrasing that many drivers have heard, but may not know exactly what it means, relates to dram shop laws. Dram shop laws allow people who were injured by drunk drivers to seek financial claims against the drinking establishments that negligently continued to serve a soon-to-be drunk driver intoxicating beverages in spite of knowing how dangerous it was.

Where does the term “dram shop” come from? Historically, the phrase “dram shop” derives from 18th century England, and refers to a special kind of drinking establishment that sold customers gin by the spoon. Now, it’s a legal term in the United States that generally refers drinking establishments of any kind. The most important thing for victims of drunk driving accidents, though, is the fact that dram shop laws create the legal basis for DUI victims (and their families in the case of a fatal crash) to hold alcohol vendors accountable for their failure to take reasonable action to keep their communities safe. In fact, bartenders and bars have a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to extremely inebriated customers.

Dram shop laws are not that different from “social host liability laws,” which also allow people hurt by drunk drivers to hold social hosts accountable for causing injuries and/or death because they negligently served alcohol and encouraged its consumption at their private parties.

New Jersey resident injured by drunk drivers, and family members of people who are killed by drunk drivers, may want to consider whom — in addition to the drunk driver — could also be liable for the accident. By holding all potentially liable parties, plaintiffs will have a greater chance of achieving their goal of successfully obtaining financial restitution in their claims.