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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Powell

Does Missouri Have a Social Host Liability Law?

Alcohol abuse poses a serious danger to society. In fact, recent research shows that over 5.2 million people die as a result of alcohol-related injuries. That makes alcohol consumption the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Like other depressant drugs, alcohol can seriously lower inhibitions and thus make intoxicated individuals more likely to injure someone else. If this happens, the victim can pursue legal action for the damages sustained. However, in some instances, victims can also sue the party who furnished the perpetrator with the alcohol.

Such lawsuits are called ‘social host liability’ claims, and they differ from state to state. For example, some states have social host laws that apply exclusively to minors. Others have laws that include adults as well, while some don't have social host liability laws at all.

So, where does Missouri stand on this issue? Does Missouri have a social host liability law? This is something victims living in the Show-me-State should know before pursuing any legal action.

Dram Shop Laws vs. Social Host Liability Laws

Dram Shop Laws vs. Social Host Liability Laws

Before looking at Missouri’s social host liability laws, it’s important to establish one thing — the difference between dram shop laws and social host liability laws.

Dram shop laws prohibit establishments from knowingly selling alcohol to minors or adults that are already severely inebriated. So, in cases where an intoxicated person injured someone else, the courts won't only hold them responsible for damages. They can also implicate the restaurant or bar that served the alcohol.

On the other hand, social host liability laws only apply to individuals. For example, some states hold party hosts liable if they knowingly furnish minors with alcohol. Consequently, if a minor injures someone, the victim can sue the host for compensation. What's more, the minor can also file a claim if they end up hurting themselves while drunk.

Other states have general social host liability laws that include adults as well. As a result, victims don't just have the right to sue drunk drivers if they cause accidents. They can also legally pursue a party host.

The same principle applies to property damage. If an adult knowingly gave alcohol to a minor; and they subsequently caused property damages, the victim can legally sue the adult for property damages. However, if a drunk adult was the one who damaged their property, victims will have a harder time filing a claim against the party host.

Most states don’t hold party hosts legally liable in such cases unless the victim can conclusively prove negligence.

Does Missouri Have a Social Host Liability Law?

If a drunk person injured them or damaged their property, Missouri residents may wonder about their options. Can they sue a party host for the actions of the inebriated perpetrator?

Sadly, the answer is no. Missouri has strict dram laws which permit victims to seek compensation only from establishments. And even then, victims can only file suits against establishments with a legal permit to sell and serve intoxicating liquor on the spot. This is why the injured party can pursue a claim against bars, restaurants, and taverns but not liquor stores or supermarkets.

What’s more, Missouri dram shop laws apply to both minors and adults. For example, if a bar knowingly supplied alcohol to a minor, and they ended up injuring someone while under the influence, the victim can sue the establishment for negligence.

They can also pursue legal action if the perpetrator is an adult. This applies to cases where the establishment kept serving liquor even though they were already severely intoxicated. What’s more, the victim can simultaneously file a personal injury claim against the perpetrator and receive compensation from them and the establishment.

However, the same does not apply in cases where an individual served the inebriated perpetrator alcohol. In order to successfully file a suit, the victim has to prove two facts. First, that the host had a civic duty not to furnish someone with alcohol, and second, that they somehow breached the said duty. The problem is that there are no civic duty laws in Missouri forbidding individuals from furnishing guests with alcohol.

Even in cases where a party host allowed a minor to drink, the victim still has no grounds to sue them. They can only receive compensation from the person that’s directly caused the damages.

For those who got severely injured due to alcohol that was served to them, contact slip and fall lawyers in St Louis MO to help get the compensation you deserve. For property owners who want to avoid causing accidents, find out what is reasonable care slip and fall.

Meanwhile, we also have another article tackling whether or not one needs to get their deposition taken in a slip and fall case.

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