Dram Shop Laws Vary by State

Make Sure You Are Properly Covered


Business owners who serve or sell alcohol might have heard about the Dram Shop Act. It is a law in more than three dozen states, including all of New England, that holds businesses liable if an intoxicated patron injures anyone inside or outside of the establishment. While laws may vary from state by state, Hospitality Insurance Group aims to shed light on what business owners should know about Dram Shop laws.

“The Draw Shop Act is going to indicate liability if someone is overserved, and what happens if an establishment serves a minor,” said Sandra Haley, Sr. Vice President of Underwriting and Marketing. “Any business that is underinsured takes the risk that if the insurance doesn’t pay for the claim, they will have to come up with that money.”

More than 40 states currently have Dram Shop laws, and the primary differences between states could be significant. In one state, Haley says, the statute of limitations could be six years. In those states, insurance experts recommend that restaurant owners hold on to evidence for longer. Other differences in state liquor laws could be limitations on the amount that could be claimed or whether courts will consider contributory negligence in legal defenses.

There are several reasons, Haley says, that restaurant owners will want to check in with their insurance agent. “Every year, something changes. Legal judgements have increased through the years, people are held more responsible today than they were years ago,” Haley said. “Businesses can stay up to date on their state’s liquor laws by either asking their insurance agent or by contacting their insurance company.”

Hospitality Insurance Group specializes in liquor liability coverage. Our underwriters are knowledgeable about the unique risks that businesses in the hospitality industry face. Make sure you have the right amount of protection, and ask your insurance agent about coverage through Hospitality Insurance Group.

The opinions expressed are the views of the author alone and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity and shall not constitute a legal opinion.