What is Rhode Island’s Liquor Liability Act?

Drink Drive

While Rhode Island residents are legally entitled to drink alcoholic beverages when they reach the age of 21, it is also their duty to drink responsibly. To hold Rhode Island’s liquor-serving establishments responsible, the state passed the Liquor Liability Act. Under the provisions of the act, those who serve alcohol, whether at a restaurant or bar, are legally obligated to serve it responsibly; otherwise, they can be held liable for damages. These damages can include property damage (such as might result from collisions), personal injury, lost wages, medical expenses, compensation for permanent disability, loss of consortium, and wrongful death. Personal injury lawsuits can be brought by those who have been harmed by intoxicated individuals, by the family members of those killed as a result of intoxicated acts, and in certain circumstances those who were negligently served.

Alcohol servers may be liable for the payment of damages caused by an alcohol-induced accident if it is determined that their actions led to the incident. For example:

  • An alcohol server or establishment who encourages overindulgence of alcohol to someone who then injures or kills another in a Rhode Island auto accident can be sued as a responsible party.
  • A person who was injured or the family of someone who died as a result of the intoxicated actions of someone improperly served may sue the server of the alcohol as well as the person whose drunken actions directly harmed them.

There are two types of liquor liability under the act. The first is negligent service of liquor, which includes serving alcohol to a minor, a visibly intoxicated person, or either party who could be recognized as intoxicated by a reasonable person. Commercial alcohol servers, such as bartenders and wait staff, are held responsible if they fail to identify a visibly intoxicated customer and fail to respond appropriately.

Second, liability for reckless service of liquor addresses servers who encourage intoxicated individuals to drink significant amounts of liquor, knowingly serve liquor to an underage patron, or serve enough liquor to put the person drinking at risk of fatal alcohol poisoning. A server or establishment who commits any of these actions can be held legally liable for the losses that occur even to those drinking as opposed to innocent third parties.

Those who are responsible for the service of alcohol are not only morally obligated to act responsibly, but legally obligated in the state of Rhode Island. If you or a loved one has suffered injury due to the negligent or reckless actions of an alcohol server, or due to the dangerous actions of an intoxicated person, Marasco and Nesselbush has Rhode Island liquor liability attorneys who are dedicated to holding negligent parties responsible and achieving extraordinary legal results for our clients. For more information, contact our offices today at 401-274-7400 or learn more by visiting our web site at m-n-law.com.