Can you sue a bar for overserving customers?
The answer is different from state to state. The relevant laws are called “dram shop” laws. In Louisiana, bars (or social hosts) are not responsible for overserving people over the age of 21 who leave and hurt or kill themselves or someone else. But if the bar serves alcohol to a minor (under 21) and that person leaves the bar and hurts or kills themselves or someone else, you can sue the bar.
Dram shop law
Dram shop laws apply to bars, taverns, or other businesses (or social hosts) that serve alcohol. If a bar overserves a customer, the customer leaves and causes harm, then the owner of the bar is responsible. Each state has its own policy. With few exceptions, Louisiana does not have dram shop laws. Louisiana law protects dram shops and their owners from liability.
Louisiana’s anti-dram shop law.
The anti-dramshop law is La. R.S. 9:2800.1. It limits liability for loss connected with selling, serving, or supplying alcohol to others. The law takes power from the people (jury), by declaring that in every situation, the cause of any injury, including death and property damage inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or someone else is caused by the consumption of alcohol, rather than providing alcohol to the drunk person. It essentially removes all responsibility from the supplier of alcohol. But Louisiana’s anti-dramshop law has exceptions.
Liability for serving underage guests.
It only limits liability for providing alcohol to “a person over the age for the lawful purchase thereof.” This means if the bar provides alcohol to someone who is not old enough to legally buy it, then the bar may be responsible if the underage customer leaves and gets hurt, killed, or causes injuries or someone else to be killed.
Liability for serving guests who are hurt on the premises.
The law also specifically applies to injuries or death “suffered off the premises.” That means normal premises liability laws apply to the dram shop, and a jury could find that serving alcohol to a customer of any age contributed to his injuries or death.
Liability for tricking someone into drinking alcohol.
It does not limit liability if the provider of alcohol forces someone else to drink alcohol, or falsely represents that the drink does not contain alcohol.