Bars are not to serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons. They are also not to serve too much alcohol to the same person. Bar staff may have the duty to ensure that intoxicated individuals do not get behind the wheel.
In Canadian law for bar and tavern liability, the duty of care falls under two legal categories:
- Commercial Host Liability
- Social Host Liability
Commercial Host Liability
The Supreme Court of Canada decided in 1972 that there is a relationship between a bar and its patrons because the bar uses its techniques and skills to invite the patrons to use its premises to engage in alcohol consumption. Furthermore, the bar is somewhat obliged to ensure that there is no foreseeable harm that occurs to a patron because of their sale of alcohol.
The commercial host is also obligated to examine and determine the patron’s condition and not serve alcohol to someone who is noticeably intoxicated.
The commercial host does have a duty of care as alcohol is essentially the only “legal” intoxicating substance that can be sold without much regulation and the commercial host benefits monetarily as its patrons are becoming continuously intoxicated and more unable to make proper judgments. Thus, as long as a guest has had a few drinks, the host has a duty to make sure that the patron does not cause danger to him/herself or others.
If a guest is noticeably intoxicated or the host is aware that the individual has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, then if the guest drives, it can be foreseen that the guest will cause an accident. The courts have established that the commercial host is obligated to take preventative action. If these fail, the tavern must call the police.
Social Host Liability
Social host liability deals more with, but is not limited to, business owners as they may fall into one of the social host categories (an employer, a tavern keeper, just having people over for a staff party).
There has been an increase in tendency in the Canadian courts to hold the social host partly responsible for the injuries sustained by patrons who engage in drunk driving, or who drink and drive and cause harm to others, regardless of what category of social host he or she is.
As an employer, allowing employees to get drunk on the job or even allowing them to drink while at work is unwise. Employers can and have been held liable for the injuries of employees who were drinking at office parties were involved in accidents. Employers hosting a party should take steps to make sure that their guests arrive at their destination safely.
Bar/tavern liability is a tricky aspect of the law. Therefore, we recommend that if you have gotten into a drunk driving accident you:
- Stop and assess it
- Call and emergency hotline (911)
- If able, get as much information from witnesses or anyone at the scene
- Make note of tag numbers or any vehicles involved
- Get photographic evidence of the damage
- Only speak to the police officer
- Review police report for accuracy.
- Call our bar/tavern liability lawyers at Rastin & Associates
Our experiences and compassionate bar/tavern liability lawyers at Rastin & Associates will try our utmost best to represent you in the most efficient and effective way. Contact us. Let us serve you.