Dram Shop Claims
Drunk drivers are the third leading cause of vehicle accidents in the United States. In Pennsylvania, dram shop laws allow those harmed by a drunk person to file a claim against the bar.
Dram shop laws do not allow a drunk driver to file a claim against the bar or restaurant.
Liquor License Responsibility
Restaurants and bars owe it to the public not to serve too much alcohol to their customers. Additionally, businesses have a legal responsibility to not serve too much alcohol to customers. Serving too much alcohol puts the customer and others at risk. But, some bars put profits ahead of public safety.
Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law
Drunk drivers cause deadly situations on the road. But even when they aren’t behind the wheel, an intoxicated person can injure or even kill others. They can even harm or kill themselves as a result of being overserved. The area of civil law that deals with these circumstances are called dram shop law.
How Dram Shop Law Works
When a drunk person injures or kills someone criminal law holds them responsible. There is no question about that. The injured person or their family can sue the drunk person for damages. But, dram shop law also assigns financial responsibility to the business that over-served their customer.
PA businesses with a liquor license have to follow specific rules. A restaurant or bar is not allowed to serve alcohol to a visibly drunk person. Additionally, they cannot serve an underage person alcohol. When they do, the restaurant or bar is also responsible for any injury or death the drunk person causes.
Social Party Host Liability
Hosts and homeowners with social gatherings in Pennsylvania have some legal responsibility too. At a party where a host makes alcohol available to minors, the host also assumes liability. If that minor hurt themselves or others, the host could be financially responsible.
Proof of “Visible Intoxication”
In dram shop law cases, the plaintiff must prove that the customer was served alcohol despite being visibly intoxicated. This is not typically determined by blood alcohol levels. When you are serving alcohol to another person, whether they are a patron at a bar or a guest in a home, it is your responsibility to look out for signs of intoxication. These signs can include:
- slurring words
- bloodshot eyes
- aggression or fighting
- loud and unruly conduct
All of these signs indicate a person is intoxicated. If this is the case, a bar must not serve the customer any more alcohol.
Blood Alcohol Level
In some cases, a toxicologist can form an opinion if a person would have appeared drunk or not based on their blood alcohol level when the last beverage was served to them. But, the blood alcohol level is rarely a factor to determine liability. Instead, cases rely on visible evidence of intoxication.
Dram Shop Laws In PA
In Pennsylvania, a dram shop claim must be able to prove the following:
- A vendor or seller of alcohol provided alcohol to an intoxicated person
- Intoxication was the cause of the injury or death
Pennsylvania Dram Shop Lawyer
Dram shop claims in Pennsylvania are complicated. Talk to an experienced dram shop attorney for advice.
Dram Shop Attorneys At Kane & Silverman
Attorneys at Kane & Silverman have experience with dram shop law cases. Our legal team includes experts licensed in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call or text us at 215-232-1000 anytime with your questions. Or, fill out our online contact form and a member of our legal team will contact you to set up a free consultation.Dram Shop FAQs