Liability for drunk visitor?

by Larry

A drunk person rode home with us from a wedding reception. We stopped at our house to get some items for a friend who was driving. The drunk person entered our home to use the restroom, then incited an argument with a resident who was laying down.

Attempting to remove the drunk person from the home, the drunk person fell and hit their head, and is now seeking compensation. She was over served at an open bar/wedding reception, and that's the only reason she was even in our car or house.

Are we liable? How liable are the individuals that hosted the open bar where the drunk person was over served? What can we do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Liability for drunk visitor?":

Larry (Maryland):

Under Ohio state’s dram shop laws, the owner of a restaurant, bar, or other commercial establishment which continued to serve alcohol to a clearly intoxicated person may be liable for injuries and property damage resulting from the intoxicated person's subsequent actions.

See Ohio State Revised Statute Section 4399.18

Ohio follows the "modified comparative negligence rule," which you can learn more about here.

Under Ohio comparative negligence law, parties recover compensation for medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering in proportion to their percentage of negligence.

An injured person judged to be 50% or less at fault may recover his damages minus the percent caused by his own negligence. If though, the injured person's percentage of negligence is determined to be 51% or more, then that person is barred from recovering any compensation for his injury.

From the facts you present, it appears the intoxicated person contributed to her own injuries. As a result, the person or persons who sponsored the wedding including the open bar, may be comparatively liable for the intoxicated person's injuries.

The homeowner may be liable of the intoxicated person tripped over a hole in the floor, a board sticking out, or some other defect in the home. However, if the intoxicated person fell completely of her own accord as a result of her intoxication, it's likely she will recover nothing from the homeowner.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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