Maryland Does Not Allow Dram Shop or Social Host Liability

When someone is injured in a Maryland DUI accident, it is conceivable that there are multiple liable parties. Of course, the motorist who was driving drunk is the most obvious party; however, it would seem logical that the individual or establishment that overserved the intoxicated driver also bears some responsibility.

The concept of holding third parties liable for a negligent driver’s actions is not unheard of, and courts impose third-party liability all the time in cases involving a negligent employee. In fact, many states also impose third-party liability in the drunk-driving context through statutes known as dram-shop and social-host liability laws. At the heart of both of these claims is the concept that a person – either acting in their individual capacity or in their capacity as an employee for a bar or restaurant – should know that overserving alcohol to a customer puts others in danger.

In Maryland, however, courts have rejected both dram-shop and social-host liability claims. As recently as 2013, the Court of Appeals of Maryland heard a dram-shop case, issuing an opinion including a lengthy discussion of the societal and legal considerations of a court adopting such a doctrine.

According to the court’s opinion, the accident giving rise to the case occurred after a patron left a bar after being served upwards of 15 drinks over the course of a day. The bar had offered to call a cab for the patron, who refused and instead attempted to drive home in his own vehicle.

In that case, the court concluded that it would be improper for a court – rather than a legislative, law-making, body – to bring into existence such a doctrine of law. The court acknowledged that a growing number of states have opted to enact some form of dram shop law, however, the court noted that Maryland State Legislature has remained silent despite that obvious trend. This, the court held, indicated that it was not the will of the people (as expressed through their elected representatives) to impose this type of liability on bars, restaurants, or those who serve alcohol socially to guess.

The court explained further that, in Maryland, a party is not generally responsible for a third-party’s actions unless they exercise some sort of control over the third-party’s actions by virtue of a special relationship. For example, an employer/employee relationship.

Of course, laws can and do change over time. And anyone who has been involved in a Maryland DUI accident should reach out to a dedicated Maryland injury attorney to discuss their case.

Have You Been the Victim of a Maryland DUI Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While dram shop liability does not currently apply in Maryland, drunk drivers can be held liable through Maryland car accident lawsuits. To learn more about how you may be able to recover for the injuries you or your loved one has sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Government’s Claim of Immunity in Recent Police-Chase Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 24, 2018.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents at Maryland Retail Stores and Shopping Centers, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 3, 2018.


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