Throwing Fuel on the Fire: Over-Service Claims in Washington

You probably read about it.  A drunk driver killed a motorcycle rider in the University District.  The press has focused—understandably—on the drunk driver.  But he’s not the only one to blame.

Bars and restaurants can be held responsible if they let someone have too much to drink.  And the reality is that they have way more insurance than most drunk drivers.

In Washington the standard for imposing liability on bars and restaurants used to be “obvious intoxication”.  But the law has changed from “obviously intoxicated” to “apparently intoxicated”.  This relaxed standard means it’s easier to pursue over-service claims.  And we’ve handled a lot of them.

A bar served two drinks to a woman.  She had four drinks earlier in the night.  She drove the wrong way on the viaduct and hit our client.  We recovered $1M from the bar.

It’s important to preserve evidence like video and receipts.  It’s also important to interview witnesses to find out how the drunk driver appeared.  Was he loud, obnoxious, spilling drinks or breaking pool cues?  That’s the kind of stuff we find out and why we’re so effective.

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