Pennsylvania may impose liability on both drivers and dram shops for injuries in drunk driving accidents. If the establishment serving alcohol violates the PA Dram Shop Law, the victim may be able to bring a lawsuit against the bar or restaurant to receive compensation for their injuries. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia can assist you with this process.
Our law firm represents seriously injured victims of auto accidents in PA and Philadelphia. If you or someone you love has been injured due to an intoxicated driver, our attorneys will assess the potential for dram shop liability and evaluate other avenues for compensation for the resulting harm. Please contact us for a free initial consultation. We represent auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis. There is no fee unless you recover for the injuries.
Pennsylvania's Dram Shop Law
Victims of drunk drivers and/or their families may be entitled to compensation from the establishment that provided the liquor to the driver. It is illegal in Pennsylvania for a bar or restaurant to sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. If a bartender violates the law and a third person is injured as a result, the alcohol provider can be liable for the injuries caused in the accident. It is considered negligence per se, a legal doctrine that does not require proof that an ordinary person should have acted differently.
PA is one of a few states in the country that also allows the drinking individual to recover if they are injured. However, comparative negligence is available as a defense to reduce the amount of compensatory damages the intoxicated person receives.
In order for their to be liability to the liquor licensee, the Dram Shop Act requires the individual to be visibly intoxicated. If a sober person were to buy and consume a bottle of liquor, and subsequently causes a crash, the sale does not violate the law. It is also not enough to establish the amount of drinks served or their blood alcohol content under court opinions. There must be signs of intoxication present such as staggering, spilling a drink, slurred speech or bloodshot eyes.
The drinking and driving problem in Pennsylvania remains a serious issue even though deaths related to alcohol have been on the decline over the past five years. More than 10,000 crashes every year involve drivers who had been drinking or are otherwise alcohol-related (drinking pedestrians).
These accidents can result in death of the drunk driver, their passengers, occupants of other cars and even pedestrians on the streets. There are approximately 400 fatalities due to crashes involving alcohol every year.