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Recovery Against Bars for the Conduct of Drunk Patrons

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Ohio law permits recovery against liquor permit holders for injuries caused by their intoxicated patrons under certain circumstances. Whether the injury was the result of a bar room attack perpetrated by an intoxicated customer or a traffic accident caused by a drunken driver, Ohio law may allow recovery against a bar or restaurant that negligently served alcohol to an already intoxicated individual.

Ohio’s dram shop act permits injured victims of intoxicated persons to recover against a liquor permit holder that served the intoxicated person under certain circumstances. Such liquor permit holders include bars, restaurants, and stores selling alchol. If the injury ocurred on the permit holders premises, the injured party may recover if the bar negligently served alcohol to that intoxicated person. Such on site injuries frequently result from fights or attacks initiated by intoxicated customers. Liability may also be imposed on a permit holder for injuries caused by intoxicated customers after they have left the premises if the permit holder knowingly served alcohol to an already intoxicated cusotmer. The most common example of this type of injury arises from car accidents caused by drunk drivers.
Whether a plaintiff in this type of action will be successful depends on whether the liquor permit holder knew that the customer it was serving was already drunk. Evidence of the permit holder’s knowledge can come from several sources. If the incident giving rise to the injury involved law enforcement or criminal charges, invaluable evidence may be obtained from police reports or the prosecutors file. Surveillance video, credit card receipts, eyewitness accounts, and public records related to the establishment’s liquor license applications may also provide compelling evidence that the permit holder knew the patron was intoxicated. While there are many obstacles in bringing these type of actions, liquor permit holders may be held accountable when they continue to serve intoxicated customers.