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Maryland Dramshop Laws And Calls For Reform: Legal Liability For Over-Serving Alcohol In Maryland

Chances are you have heard the phrase “dram shop laws.”   But do you know exactly what it means?

The basic concept behind these laws is straightforward.  When in effect, a dram shop law allows someone hurt by the misconduct of an intoxicated person (drunk driver) to sue third-parties who over-served the driver.

Laws on this subject vary considerably across the nation.  In general, there are two different issues at play: First, should the law apply only to “vendors” (like a bar) or also to “social hosts” (like someone who throws a party at their house)?  Second, should the law apply only when minors are over-served or also to adults?  Every state has different version of the law; most are provided for by statute with a few rules set up via case law.

Maryland DUI Injury Law

So what is the law in Maryland?  Sadly, our state is one of the very few which does not currently allow third parties to be held accountable for their role in alcohol-related accidents via dram shop laws. State legislators have yet to pass any statutes which provide for these causes of action no matter if the driver was an adult or minor and regardless of whether the third-party is a social host or vendor.

Moreover, a state Court of Appeals issued a ruling which reaffirmed the fact that there is no dram shop liability in Maryland.

The opinion in the case, Warr Jr. v. JMGM Group was released earlier this summer.  The plaintiffs in the case, a husband and wife, were traveling in Montgomery County with their two daughters in 2008.  Around 10 p.m., while traveling down Interstate 270, a drunk driver collided with the couple’s car.  One of the young girls in the car died in the collision, while the other three were seriously injured.

It was later learned that the drunk driver had been drinking at a Dogfish Head Alehouse for at least five hours before the accident.  In a subsequent legal action, the plaintiffs filed suit against the parent company of Dogfish Head, claiming that their duty not to over-serve patrons was breached.

In dismissing the case this year, the Court of Appeals declined to impose a dram shop liability on the vendor.  In it’s opinion the Court noted that it declined the opportunity to impose dram shop liability in several cases over the past few decades and the Court argued that any legal changes on this front should come from the state legislature instead of the courts.

Should We Change the Law to Protect Injured Maryland Residents?

This recent court decision has invigorated advocates who are calling for changes in state law in order to better protect Maryland travelers.  One of the group’s leading the effort, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), published a helpful chart  comparing the dram shop laws in each state.  Even at a quick glance you can see that Maryland is one of only three states with zero liability.  Local policymakers will need to take a careful look and determine if we are best served by remaining a national outlier.

The group also published a succinct list of benefits which accrue from the laws.  MADD argues that imposing liability in these cases leads to fewer alcohol-related crashes while helping to publicize the importance of not over-serving intoxicated patrons.

Legal Help in Maryland

The injury attorneys at Gordon Feinblatt have extensive experience helping Maryland residents hurt by automobile negligence, including drunk drivers.  For assistance understanding your legal options in the aftermath of an accident, feel free to contact us today online or call us at 1-888-540-2599.

Justin Katz is a personal injury lawyer who represents injury victims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
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Kelly Kess Malone
Kelly Kess Malone
15:50 20 Nov 18
Very helpful paralegals and attorney assistants. Also informative on various types of cases. Reasonably priced for the work that they provide.
Brittany Peterson
Brittany Peterson
08:19 17 Nov 18
Had a very awesome experience fast settlements... Communication was a A+ ...Strongly recommend Mr.Katz. !!! Ms. Robin made me felt like family was always there when i needed her and when i had a question.
Yarnell Goodwin
Yarnell Goodwin
23:38 15 Nov 18
Got a little more settlement money than expected. Was provided great service and prompt responses. I greatly appreciate it!
Ashley Poole
Ashley Poole
01:05 08 Nov 18
Attorney Bob Katz and his staff are highly recommend. Customer Service was impeccable. Every phone call and email was responded to in a timely manner. Natalie Ulrich was very professional, helpful and thorough every step of the way, which resulted in a stress free experience. I will recommend this law firm to family and friends!
Tania Jefferson
Tania Jefferson
17:51 06 Nov 18
Customer service was A+. All questions were answered promptly and information was shared appropriately. Concerns were addressed and I was made aware of all updates on my case. I would whole heartedly recommend this firm.
edward Robinson
edward Robinson
03:00 06 Nov 18
I highly recommend Mr. Katz and his staff. They were friendly, compassionate and really showed they had their clients best interest at heart. There was never a time you called them they didn't respond or returned your calls and answer your questions.They took the worry, and stress and turn it into reassurance. They were diligent and just down right professional. My wife and I really thank God for allowing us to cross paths on a professional business experience. Ms. Rebecca Slatery is the most courteous, compassionate soul. We wish you all peace, love and blessings. Thank you for your service.
J JR
J JR
20:11 31 Oct 18
I decided to use this firm again for an accident I was involved in. As always they were professional and caring. Rebecca slattery was the paralegal assigned to my case and she was professional and kept me up to date with everything. I would recommend this firm to friends and family!
Cedric Jones
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19:04 23 Oct 18
Erica Z is amazing with keeping you to date and staying communication with you during the entire process. Meghan Young was a wonderful lawyer made me feel extremely comfortable in the courtroom and she also fights for the best possible outcome for you..GREAT LAW FIRM
Nguyen Le
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16:44 23 Oct 18
It was a great experience being taken care of by Rebecca Slattery and Meghan Young, they helped me resolve my case and were very courteous and professional. Highly recommend working with this law firm
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Soun Gil
21:35 17 Oct 18
Ms. Park helped me out through my whole accident process. She took her time with me and made sure I understood everything. I would recommend to her all of my friends if they were to get into any accident.
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15:40 12 Oct 18
I highly recommend. My family’s experience with this office was great. Christina Franetovich was very helpful throughout the whole process, which made this experience less stressful. She responded to my questions immediately and made sure that I understood everything.
Claudette Pope
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13:18 30 Aug 18
I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
UniversalSniping
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02:32 04 Aug 18
The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
Richard Hose
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02:26 27 Jun 18
On Feb 23, 2017 I was in a bad accident on the JFX. I had been rear end by another driver. Almost immediately I felt pressured by the other drivers insurance. Everything from wanting a recorded statement; to failing to acknowledge responsibility. No one would answer my questions, nor would anyone take responsibility. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone from the towing company, to the repair shop, to the insurance company nightmare I just entered. I reached out to Attorney Robert Katz and I was assured they were here to help. He provided with some much needed information, and told me not to worry, Sarah his Paralegal would be in touch to help get things moving. Sarah reached out as expected and explained their process and walked me through what my expectations would be. She as well assured me they were here to help me navigate the obstacles. What Sarah really did was so much more than help. She took the stress and burden off my shoulders and assumed ownership for handling everything on my behalf. I knew what to expect, and I received regular updates throughout the entire process. Honestly, I received so much more than I anticipated. Some of the most frustrating items to chase after are medical records and hospital charges. While I was trying to recall events and timelines, she had already obtained my records and information. She made this process so painless. I truly cannot say enough about the exceptional service she provided. Many thanks for all your help. Sincerely, Richard Hose
Andrea Barajas
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15:13 16 May 18
My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
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TheOfficalCeeandDee
15:24 09 Feb 18
My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
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