WHEN IS THE SELLER OF ALCOHOL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HARM CAUSED BY A DRUNK PERSON?

In Arkansas, if you or a family member is harmed by person that is intoxicated, you should quickly investigate how that person obtained the alcohol. The business that made money helping the person get drunk can be held responsible for your loss under two circumstances:

(1) When a business illegally sells alcohol to a minor, and the intoxicated minor injures or kills themselves or someone else as a result, the seller can be held responsible for the harm that results from the intoxication; and,

(2) When a business sells alcohol to a visibly intoxicated adult, over twenty-one years of age, the business can be held responsible if that adult injures, kills or causes property damage to another person as a result of being intoxicated.

The important distinction under Arkansas law today is that buyers over the age of twenty-one that hurt themselves as a result of intoxication, cannot sue the seller. However, after an illegal sale to a buyer under the age of twenty-one, the seller can be held responsible for even the buyer’s injury or death caused by intoxication.

The Mulkey Law Firm was the first in Arkansas to successfully hold a seller of alcohol responsible for an illegal sale which led to the death of our client’s teenage son. (We convinced the Arkansas Supreme Court to change the law of the state in the process.) We have since successfully represented families of victims of drunk drivers all over Arkansas in cases against irresponsible sellers, as a direct result of that change in the law.