A form of entertainment in many restaurants, flaming beverages liven up the patron experience and is often treated as a bit of a performance in some establishments where food and drinks are cooked and served for all to see.
Alcohol and fire create a perfect combo for driving in patrons, but unfortunately, it’s also a perfect combo for accidents. A Los Angeles woman, who was a patron at Clifton’s Cafeteria back in 2017, said she was by the bar while the bartender was creating a flaming drink called “The Scorpion Bowl”. During preparation, she alleges she was struck by a fireball, causing third-degree burns to her arms, hands, hair, neck, and chest. Her lawsuit names negligence and ultra-hazardous activity on behalf of the restaurant and is seeking recourse for the permanent, disfiguring injuries sustained that have impacted her daily living. While this lawsuit does not name a monetary price for damages, similar lawsuits have asked for at least $10,000 to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
If you are found liable for the damages sought, you are going to want insurance to cover what you are required to pay to the plaintiff. If your liquor liability policy offers on premise coverage, it may cover injuries caused by flaming beverages. If your liquor liability policy is only for off-premise events only, you will likely pay for legal expenses out of pocket. Another option is to have these accidents covered by having incidents relating to flaming beverages specifically stated on your general liability insurance policy. If you do not specifically state this risk, it may not be covered for it might be automatically excluded.
How your bar is set up contributes to the validity of what a plaintiff says when filing a lawsuit. The Los Angeles woman from Clifton’s Cafeteria supported her “ultra-hazardous activity” claim by stating that the drinks were prepared too close to patrons and that the bar was darkly lit. If any of these claims can be proven true if someone perused your bar area, then it certainly does not help in winning your lawsuit. When it doubt, adequate lighting and safe distances are the best way to go!
While Massachusetts does not require bartenders to be certified, it might be helpful to send them to a professional training program or have them get TIPS certified. Flaming beverages have precipitated too many lawsuits for it not to be mentioned in some way, shape or form during the course. At the very least, they will be taught basic alcohol prep and serving safety of which the tips are very transferable to multiple situations.
Need insurance for your restaurant? Give Brian Kilcoyne from H&K Insurance a call at 617-612-6515 to discuss your options today!