What do parental liability and the dram shop liability law have in common?


Parental liability and the so-called "dram shop liability law" are both examples of vicarious liability, i.e. the principle of imputed negligence applies in both of these situations. With vicarious liability, a person's negligence which has led to damage or harm, is imputed to somebody else.

Parental Liability

Liability is typically attributed to parents for the negligence of their minors. Since under-age children cannot be held legally liable in court, their parents have to assume responsibility for their minors' deeds. If a teenage driver behaves recklessly behind the wheel and smashes into another vehicle, injuring the other driver and the passengers, it is the teenager's parents who will be held legally liable for their teenager's negligence, face charges of vicarious liability in court and pay compensatory damages to the claimant for bodily injuries and property damage.

The Dram Shop Liability Law

If a person commits a tort as a result of being drunk, the bar or shop that sold that person liquor, can be attributed contributory liability under the dram shop law. In fact, any establishment selling or serving alcohol to its customers can bear the brunt - from the most disreputable bar to the top-notch restaurant in town.

Different states have imposed different modifications of the dram shop liability law: in all states dram shop laws cover under-age drinkers who can file a lawsuit against a bar or a liquor shop for serving them alcohol, if they suffer any injuries as a result of being intoxicated. The family of an alcoholic can also sue a drinking establishment for letting them spend the family's money on drinks.

The dram shop liability law does not apply in some states, such as Nevada, while other states - for instance Alaska, Michigan and Alabama - only impose liability to illicit sale of liquor.

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