It happens more than you’d like to think.  A person drinking in a bar leaves and causes an accident, injuring or killing another person.  The victim’s family then files a lawsuit against the bar.  Owning a bar can be fun and financially rewarding, but it also exposes you to liability risks that could prove costly should you be sued.  Here’s what you can do to manage those risks and protect yourself and your establishment.

  1. Have all servers of alcohol complete mandatory alcohol training.  Some of the alcohol awareness training sites are: TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS ), TAM (Techniques of Alcohol Management), and TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission).  Using one of these sites, your servers can be trained over the Internet for a small cost.
  2. Do not  hold alcoholic beverage promotions which encourage drinking in excess. For example 2 for 1 drinks, ladies drink free night, or long or late happy hours.
  3. Maintain copies of receipts and credit card slips from patrons for at least three years.
  4. Hold regular and frequent meetings with your staff that serve alcohol.  Stress the importance of not serving alcohol to impaired or minor patrons.  Do they know the procedures/guidelines set out to recognize or handle such patrons?
  5. Make it management’s job to observe your employees checking ID’s where appropriate.
  6. Maintain copies of alcohol awareness training certifications for all employees.
  7. Last call, if provided, should be limited to only one drink.
  8. At closing time, have your manager and bartenders/servers form a reception line by the door to monitor sobriety.  While saying “good night and thanks” for their patronage, the staff can monitor customers leaving.  If a person is determined to be intoxicated, ask them to call a taxi or a relative/friend for a ride.
  9. Have a relationship with the local authorities. This is helpful should a patron becomes belligerent.

Following these steps may help prevent a serious accident and protect your establishment from being sued.  However, if you are faced with a lawsuit, documenting that you have adhered to the guidelines presented here will help provide a great defense.  What other guidelines do you follow as a bar owner to manage your risks?

5 responses to “Raising the Bar: Best Practices for Bar Risk Management”

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    1. Kurt Muntzinger Avatar
      Kurt Muntzinger

      Thanks for your comments.

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