Recently in Tennessee there have been a number of tragic and preventable accidents that were caused by drunk drivers. And while in many of these cases the driver responsible for the crash has been charged criminally, some wonder if others will also end up being held responsible for the accidents.
A number of states in the country have vendor liability laws. Across the country there are 15 states with laws that allow for a restaurant or bar to be held responsible when a drunk driver causes personal injury or death. However, there are 14 others states that do not have these laws. Tennessee is a state that falls somewhere in the middle.
In Tennessee, the majority of the responsibility it still placed on the driver who made the decision to drive drunk and subsequently caused an accident. However, in cases where a minor was served alcohol, or a person who was clearly intoxicated was served, the bar or restaurant can at times also be held liable if that driver then gets into an accident that causes injury or death to someone else.
In general, these types of dram shop liability laws are heavily supported by groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who claim that these types of liability laws put it in the best interest of a business to adhere to stricter rules regarding serving alcohol. This in turn then leads to less drunk driving accidents as the bars and restaurants do not want to be held financially responsible for the damages caused by those who were served in their establishments.
However, it is important to note, that even in cases where a restaurant or bar cannot be held responsible, the driver who caused the crash can many times still be held liable for damages.