The season of celebration seems to start in mid-November and last through until January—oh yes, and then there is Valentine’s Day to celebrate in February.  With all the celebrating and partying, it is important to know that although you are responsible to not drink and drive, bar and tavern owners are also responsible to ensure that you are not served too much alcohol.  This applies every day of the year.

Although the bar or tavern owner has a legal obligation not to over-serve alcohol to patrons, a potential claim against the commercial host does not negate the legal liability of the impaired driver; after all, it is the driver who ultimately made the decision to drink and drive and therefore the driver will normally be found to be primarily responsible.

However, there are advantages to pursuing the commercial host (bar owner) in addition to the impaired driver in that commercial hosts are not protected defendants under the Insurance Act or benefit from a Threshold defence or the monetary deductible, which could result in additional recovery by the Plaintiffs.

A commercial host is legally obligated to monitor the customer’s level of impairment and to not serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated. They also have the responsibility to ensure that the intoxicated individual is not permitted to operate a motor vehicle.  A bar owner should arrange transportation for the intoxicated patron, or to take other reasonable steps to prevent the person from driving.   Depending on the circumstances, a bar or tavern owner could be held liable for damages if an intoxicated person on their premises is served alcohol and then the individual is allowed to operate a motor vehicle and is injured or killed, or others suffer injuries as a result of the intoxicated driver.  In such cases, a full investigation of the bar’s systems and protocols will result.

Commercial liability cases in such matters are complex and therefore it is imperative that the case be carefully reviewed by an experienced commercial host liability lawyer in Toronto.  At Horowitz Injury Law, we have nearly 35 years of experience in dealing with commercial host liability cases.