Do Dram Shop Laws Actually Work in Nevada?

by Gina Corena

posted in Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorneys on November 29, 2022

Do Dram Shop Laws Actually Work in Nevada?

There are 30 states in the U.S. that have some sort of dram shop statutes. Nevada is included in one of those states. This state’s dram shop laws are not as expansive as others and only cover people in certain circumstances. Most states that have dram shop laws hold establishments responsible for injuries caused by someone that was over served at their place of business. 

However, Nevada, along with South Dakota, does not hold establishments who are licensed liable for those that caused an accident by being intoxicated, even if the bar knew the individual was already impaired when they served them. So, there are very rare cases where Nevada will impose dram shop liability. The laws in the state work and they are used, but only in particular situations. 

What are Dram Shop Law?

Dram shop laws render an establishment liable if it serves or sells alcohol to minors or intoxicated individuals who later cause death or injury to another person or cause property damage to others. Dram shop laws were introduced in the 1700’s, gained momentum into the temperance movement, and culminated in the prohibition of alcohol. 

The name is derived from the 18th-century British method of measuring alcohol, which was known as a “dram” and was equivalent to 3/4 teaspoons. The history is relevant to the name of the laws that apply today. 

Dram shop laws make a business liable if it serves or sells alcohol to minors or intoxicated individuals who then cause an injury or death to another. Dram shop legislation is enacted at the state rather than the federal level.

Dram shop laws typically allow third-party injured victims of intoxicated individuals to sue the establishment, store clerk, or wait staff who provided the alcohol to the intoxicated person. Victims may also sue the intoxicated individual and receive compensation from both parties.

Verdicts predicated on liability in dram shop cases will refer to common negligence laws, the behavior, and the intentions of the person, as well as whether their conduct was reckless or intentional.

Dram Shop Laws in Nevada

Dram Shop Nevada Law

Nevada’s dram shop law is fairly limited compared to other states’ laws, in that it applies only in a few situations. It includes the following provisions:

  • Allows actions against social hosts who serve or allow a minor to consume alcohol on the person’s property.
  • Allows for the filing of a dram shop action against a business or individual who provides alcohol (whether through serving or selling) to a minor under the age of 21.
  • Disallows dram shop claims against businesses or individuals who serve alcohol to people over the age of 21.

Despite the lack of legislation in Nevada for recovering damages from a host or alcohol-serving establishment, victims of drunk driving accidents and other alcohol-related crimes can still seek compensation directly from the liable party. Keep in mind that if a person is injured in an accident with a drunk driver in Nevada, they cannot sue the host or establishments that served the driver. However, if the drunk driver was a minor and the person serving them was a social host rather than a licensed establishment, then the injured party can sue the host.

What is a Social Host?

The dram shop state laws in Nevada protect alcohol vendors more than they protect social hosts (or anyone else not licensed to sell or provide alcohol). The law prohibits dram shop claims for injuries caused by a person of legal drinking age who is inebriated, but it does allow an injured person to sue a social host who knowingly provides alcohol to a minor or allows a minor to consume alcohol on their property.

A social host is anyone that provides or furnishes alcohol in a social setting. So, even if the person that provided that alcohol to a party or gathering was not there when it was served, that person can still be liable in accidents involving an intoxicated minor in Nevada.

Most commonly, social hosts are in a home setting, but they can occur anywhere. Many states have laws directed at social hosts and serving minors. 

Statute of Limitations for Dram Shop Cases in Nevada

Dram shop lawsuits, like all other types of civil lawsuits, are subject to a strict statute of limitations. This statute serves as a legal deadline to file a case against a third party. If ones files their case after the deadline has passed, the lawsuit will almost certainly be dismissed. In Nevada, the statute of limitations for dram shop lawsuits is two years, beginning on the date of the injury.

It is important to note that it is from the date of the injury and not when the injuries were reported. Additionally, it is important to note the date of when the injuries occurred because some people may escape social liability for a person that happened to go to multiple parties in a week. 

Dram Shop Applying to More than Alcohol in Nevada 

Nevada’s dram shop law now extends to cannabis. The 2021 Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 341 (“AB 341”), and Governor Sisolak signed it into law, making Nevada one of the first states to allow cannabis consumption in licensed establishments. Some legal experts have colloquially referred to pending legislation governing civil liability in the cannabis industry as “gram shop” legislation.

The Cannabis Compliance Board (“CCB”) will be responsible for creating the regulatory framework for Nevada’s new “gram shop” law, which will almost certainly include harsh penalties for serving cannabis to minors.

It is expected for these laws to piggyback off the current dram shop laws in Nevada or to simply apply the current dram shop laws in events of accidents involving a person intoxicated by marijuana. 

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Apply Dram Shop Laws

After an accident, an injured person may believe that hiring an attorney is an unnecessary expense, but the reality is that an experienced lawyer has a much better chance of success with a lawsuit than a victim does on their own, especially in areas where the law is difficult to apply. 

Nevada is notorious for dismissing many dram shop cases and failing to hold parties liable. However, the laws do work when properly applied. An experienced attorney will understand when the dram shop laws apply and how to utilize them.

If you have been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, please call 702-680-1111 or contact us online so we can start discussing your case.

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