Conifer Insurance Group

St. Patrick’s Day Tips To Limit Your Liability Risks

Liquor liability is one of the biggest exposures for a liquor licensee. The Michigan Dram Shop Act is the exclusive remedy for someone who brings a claim against a liquor licensee stemming from the selling, giving, or furnishing of alcohol. In order to be liable under the act, a claimant would have to prove damages as a result of a liquor licensee either serving alcohol to a “visibly intoxicated person” and/or minor (someone under the age of 21). A person is “visibly intoxicated” when their intoxication is apparent to an average observer. Signs of visible intoxication include slurred speech, staggering, stumbling, and loud and/or obnoxious behavior.

Steps To Protect Your Business

Since you could be held liable for the actions of individuals who obtain alcohol educating employees and having practical procedures in place to prevent the sale and/or service of alcohol to “visibly intoxicated” patrons, combined with verifying the age of all patrons, is the best way to insulate your business from this liability exposure. Since you could be held liable for the actions of individuals who obtain alcohol from your establishment, helping your customers by calling a cab, Uber, Lyft, and/or encouraging other means of safe transportation will also help to minimize liability exposure to your business.

In addition, you may wish to develop a training program to ensure that all of your employees learn and understand the legal liability risks to a liquor licensee. In the unfortunate event of an incident either on or off of your premises, involving patrons of your establishment, you should do the following:

  • Obtain first aid/medical attention for any injured patrons;
  • Conduct a thorough investigation which includes:
    • Obtaining patrons’ account of how the incident occurred;
    • Identifying and obtaining contact information for any witnesses;
    • Conducting and documenting an inspection of the incident area;
    • Taking photos of the incident area and retaining a copy of any video surveillance footage that may exist;
    • Inspecting and maintaining any items involved in the incident as those items may be needed as evidence at a later date.

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, It is our suggestion that you regularly meet with your staff to address any issues and/or concerns as you prepare for the rush of customers that often occurs during a celebration like St. Patrick’s Day.

The loss control suggestions and information contained on this blog is being provided on an advisory basis only. Conifer Insurance Company and its employees make no warranties, expressed or implied, and assume no liability whatsoever for services, products, or loss control measures provided by any service providers. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for insurance coverage advice and policy service.

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