NY Car Accident Law: Driver Who Strikes Intoxicated Pedestrian Can Seek Contribution From Bar

The New York Appellate Division, Second Department recently held that a driver who has struck an intoxicated pedestrian can seek contribution from a bar or restaurant under the Dram Shop Act. O’Gara v. Alacci, 2009 WL 3047886, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 06668 (2d Dept Sept. 22, 2009).

Under the New York Dram Shop law, bar and restaurant owners owe the public a duty not to serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated. In the O’Gara case, the Second Department reasoned that since the driver is a member of the “public”, he or she may seek contribution from a bar that has breached its duty to refrain from selling alcohol to the visibly intoxicated.

Accordingly, if an accident is caused in part by a violation of the Dram Shop Act, a driver who strikes a pedestrian is permitted to seek contribution from the bar or restaurant for serving the visibly intoxicated pedestrian-plaintiff. However, the Court also held that the visibly intoxicated pedestrian-plaintiff is not owed a duty by the bar or restaurant, and as such, has no independent cause of action against the bar.

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