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The Laws and Liability of Nevada’s Dram Shops in Drunk Driving Accidents

Victims of drunk driving accidents deserve to receive compensation from every party responsible for their injuries, including dram shops. Dram shops are defined as any commercial establishment that serves alcohol, including restaurants, bars, and pubs. Laws holding dram shops responsible for their role in their overly inebriated clients causing injury started popping up during the 19th-century temperance movement. 

There are many states that have extensive dram shop laws giving partial liability to these establishments if they knowingly served an inebriated person or a minor, and they went on to cause an injury. However, in Nevada, the dram shop laws are a little more limited and difficult to navigate.

Understanding Dram Shop Laws in Nevada

Purpose of Dram Shop Laws

Dram shops laws exist to ensure that all parties involved in creating the circumstances of an overly inebriated person causing an injury or accident are held liable for their negligence. They are also in place to ensure that minors are not served alcohol in commercial establishments. 

Nevada’s Specific Dram Shop Laws

Nevada’s dram shop laws are not as extensive as some of the other states. They only apply in very specific situations to protect many bars and restaurants from being sued. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, or that they can’t be pursued. 

These applicable situations include: 

  • When a dram shop provides alcohol to a minor who is under the age of 21, and the minor causes injury
  • A social host serves alcohol to a minor or allows them to consume alcohol on their property and the minor goes on to cause injury

A social host is anyone who provides alcohol in a social setting. Even if the person who provided alcohol for a social gathering was not there when it was served, that person can still be held liable for accidents involving intoxicated minors. 

The statute of limitation, or deadline to file legal action, for dram shop cases in Nevada is two years, starting at the exact date that the injury took place. It’s important to note the exact date and time so that there is no uncertainty about who should be held liable. 

Key Elements of a Dram Shop Claim

The essential elements of a dram shop claim that must be present are: 

  • The person provided alcohol was a minor or inebriated at the time that they were served
  • The intoxicated adult or minor caused an accident resulting in damages
  • The person’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the person’s injuries

Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents in Nevada

Individual Liability for Drunk Driving

Remember, though the laws holding dram shops liable are limited,  it is always allowed to take legal action against the inebriated person that caused the accident in the state of Nevada. 

Establishing Negligence in DUI Cases

There are four elements that must be included in your DUI case to establish negligence: 


It’s essential to signify the legal duty that’s owed to you by the inebriated person that caused the accident. There is an expectation that exists that the driver will operate their vehicle responsibly and with the proper due care.  

Breach of Duty

Next, you have to prove that there was a breach of that duty that occurred. Drinking and driving is generally considered to be a breach of duty, as the person who does this is not operating their vehicle responsibly. The typical person knows that the act of drinking and driving could result in injury. 


Providing evidence of how the driver’s negligence led to your injuries is key.  More than the breach of duty needs to be proven. It needs to be shown that the driver’s intoxication directly resulted in them driving irresponsibly and causing the accident. An example of this would be if they ran a red light due to poor reflexes or judgment due to inebriation. 


Many DUI cases have life-altering effects on their victims. It should be explained what damages the accident caused, and how they can be compensated. 

In general, you can ask for compensation for: 

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Value of Lost Housework and Childcare
  • Property Damage
  • Pain and Suffering

Contributory Negligence in Drunk Driving Accidents

In DUI cases, contributory negligence will be discussed. This aspect of the case calculates the damages and who is responsible for them. If it can be proven that the victim did anything to contribute to the cause of the accident, it will be much more difficult to be rewarded compensation. 

The Role of Dram Shops in Drunk Driving Accidents

Bars and Restaurants’ Responsibility 

Bars and restaurants, in general, have a responsibility to check everyone’s ID to ensure that they are not serving a minor. They also are responsible for not serving an individual if they already appear to be intoxicated.  Both of these responsibilities are expected and enforceable in many states. 

Serving Alcohol to Intoxicated Individuals

Though bars and restaurants in Nevada cannot have legal action taken against them for serving alcohol to already intoxicated individuals, there is still an expectation that they won’t allow it to happen. Patrons should be cut off when they become too inebriated or should not be served at all if they appear to be already inebriated. 

Liability for Serving Minors

In the state of Nevada, bars and restaurants are liable for serving alcohol to minors. If the inebriated minor goes on to cause an accident, legal action can be taken against the bar or restaurant that serviced them. 

Establishing Liability Under Nevada’s Dram Shop Laws

Elements of a Successful Dram Shop Claim

The elements of a successful dram shop claim in Nevada are similar to the general elements of dram shop claims but more specific to match the limited laws in the state. 

  • The person provided alcohol was a minor at the time that they were served
  • The intoxicated minor caused an accident resulting in damages
  • The person’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the person’s injuries

Proof and Evidence

Evidence will need to be provided for a dram shop claim to be successful. To establish negligence in the offending dram shop, your claim should include the following: 


In Nevada, restaurants and bars have an established duty to not serve alcoholic beverages to minors. 

Breach of Duty

It then needs to be proven that the accused establishment breached this duty by selling alcoholic beverages to a minor. This could come in many forms, like a proof of sale or a recording. 


Establishing that the minor’s inebriation, made possible by the restaurant or bar, is directly responsible for the accident is the next step. The minor will have needed to drive negligently due to their inebriation, like running a stop sign or abruptly switching lanes. 


The damages that can be claimed in a dram shop case are similar to those that can be requested in a DUI accident. This includes: 

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Value of Lost Housework and Childcare
  • Property Damage
  • Pain and Suffering

Limits and Defenses

In Nevada, these cases are limited to only minors who were served by the establishment. It is stated specifically in the state’s drams laws that a business cannot have legal action taken against them if the accused is an adult. 

A popular defense in both the DUI cases and dram shop cases is contributory negligence. If the victim is at all responsible for the accident, their odds of receiving their damages will be limited or completely gone. 

Compensation for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents

Civil Damages for Drunk Driving Victims

The damage for the above-stated requests will be calculated on a case-to-case basis. 

Insurance Coverage for Dram Shops

Dram shop liability insurance can be purchased by commercial restaurants and bars and will encompass claims related to both the sale and free distribution of alcohol. 

Responsible Alcohol Service and Prevention

Responsible Alcohol Service Training

Alcohol service training can be taken by employees of bars and restaurants to teach them how to responsibly serve alcohol to their patrons and avoid enabling any alcohol-related incidents. 

Community Efforts and Awareness

A lot can be done in the community, as well. In recent years, there has been a lot of attention being paid to DUI issues. There was also the invention of ride-share apps, which makes it easy to catch a ride home after a night at the bar instead of driving while inebriated. 

Consult the Expert Personal Injury Lawyers at Naqvi Law

Nevada has very specific dram laws that only apply to serving a minor alcohol who later causes an accident, Because of this, there are a few circumstances where it is applicable, including social hosts, which covers those who are not licensed to sell alcohol providing it for a minor who later causes an accident. 

There are a couple of steps that need to be taken to prove negligence in a dram shop case: establish duty, show proof of breach of duty, prove the causation of the accident, and calculate damages. 

Because Nevada’s laws are so specific for these cases, they can be tricky to navigate on your own. Always consult an experienced attorney when looking to take legal action. 

The trusted experts at Naqvi Law have you covered for any personal injury case. Schedule a free consultation or give us a call at (702) 919-6816.