Personal injury suits against alcohol providers are usually based on a negligence theory. The alcohol provider’s damages exposure is severely restricted by express statutory immunity from civil liability for any injury caused by the alcohol consumer. The immunity protects both “social host” providers and those in the business of selling alcoholic beverages [CC § 1714(b)]. Legislation believes that “the furnishing of alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.” [CC § 1714 (c)]
Before a provider could be held liable for injuries to or caused by the person to whom alcohol was served, there must be a duty of due care owed by the provider to the consumer. Failure to exercise due care by providing alcoholic beverages does not make out a prima facie negligence case absent a showing defendant owed the injured plaintiff a duty of due care [Sakiyama v. AMF Bowling Ctrs., Inc. (2003)].
When an injury is approximately caused by someone’s consumption of alcohol, it is best to consult with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury to be properly informed and guided.