Nevada is one of just a few States that protect servers of alcoholic beverages from civil liability. Courts in Nevada have ruled that consumption of liquor, not the serving of liquor, is the proximate cause of alcohol-related damages.
NRS 41.1305 reads as follows:
NRS 41.1305 Liability of person who serves, sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages for damages caused as a result of consumption of alcoholic beverage: No liability if person served is 21 years of age or older; liability in certain circumstances if person served is under 21 years of age; exception to liability; damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
1. A person who serves, sells or otherwise furnishes an alcoholic beverage to another person who is 21 years of age or older is not liable in a civil action for any damages caused by the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was served, sold or furnished as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage.
2. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who:
(a) Knowingly serves, sells or otherwise furnishes an alcoholic beverage to an underage person; or
(b) Knowingly allows an underage person to consume an alcoholic beverage on premises or in a conveyance belonging to the person or over which the person has control, is liable in a civil action for any damages caused by the underage person as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage.
3. The liability created pursuant to subsection 2 does not apply to a person who is licensed to serve, sell or furnish alcoholic beverages or to a person who is an employee or agent of such a person for any act or failure to act that occurs during the course of business or employment and any such act or failure to act may not be used to establish proximate cause in a civil action and does not constitute negligence per se.
4. A person who prevails in an action brought pursuant to subsection 2 may recover the person’s actual damages, attorney’s fees and costs and any punitive damages that the facts may warrant.
5. As used in this section, “underage person” means a person who is less than 21 years of age.
It is important to note that immunity from civil liability does not apply if liquor is knowingly served to a person under age 21. That exception is very important for tavern owners, bartenders and food servers to understand. Anyone involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages must be properly trained (such as TAM or other alcohol awareness courses) and diligent about checking the ID of patrons. Bar and Tavern owners, for their protection, should have well-written procedures and ongoing staff training to ensure liquor is not served to underage patrons.
Despite the exception for underage patrons, Nevada liquor liability laws provide strong civil protections to manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of alcoholic beverages. In turn, this means that liquor liability insurance is relatively inexpensive in Nevada, which benefits bar & tavern owners, liquor distributors, and manufacturers. Check out this interesting comparison of liquor liability laws in various states compiled by Cozen O’Connor.
The best way to protect your business from the possibility of civil litigation is with liquor liability insurance. Generally speaking, liquor liability insurance does not exclude claims of injury or property damage caused by underage patrons. Coupled with Nevada’s pro-business environment and relatively low tax rates, this might just be the best place in the United States to own a restaurant, tavern or nightclub. At Safeguard Insurance, we have agents that specialize in providing coverage to restaurants, taverns, nightclubs and any other business involved in the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages. If your business serves or sells alcoholic beverages, we’d love to talk to you about business insurance.