Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law

If an intoxicated person or minor is served alcohol and later causes injury to themselves or a third party, the bar, restaurant, or social host may also be liable for the injury. A common example of dram shop liability is when a drunk driver gets into an accident after being over-served at a bar. If death or injury occurs in that accident, the establishment could be liable, in addition to the driver.

Under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop law, a business or individual who gives alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for any damage that person might cause. Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop law applies not only to businesses that serve alcohol, like bars and restaurants, but also to private events. The law may apply when the server has committed other liquor violations, such as serving alcohol to a minor, serving alcohol after hours, or serving without a license. In that case, the business or individual who served alcohol illegally may be criminally charged for the violation, as well as sued for financial damages by the victims of the person they allowed to become intoxicated.

Seeking Justice in Dram Shop Cases

The following case provides an example of how victims in Pennsylvania may seek justice against a bar or restaurant establishment:

In 2005, J.P., 24, was at a restaurant in East Marlborough, PA with some friends. After leaving the establishment, J.P. got in the car with driver, S.C., who eventually lost control of his vehicle, causing the death of J.P. and one other passenger. When he was tested after the crash, S.C. had a blood alcohol level of .125, which is above the state’s legal .08 limit.

A Guide for Pennsylvania Crime Victims – Understanding your Rights in the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems 29

Following the crash, attorneys representing J.P.’s parents (LUONGO BELLWOAR LLP) sued the restaurant claiming they improperly served alcohol to the driver of the car, in which their son was a passenger when he was killed. The suit contends bartenders and servers at the restaurant continued to give drinks to the driver after he was clearly drunk, and even went so far as to help him to his car and get him behind the wheel of the pickup truck. The suit also contends the establishment did not have trained personnel at the restaurant that night who were familiar with the standards of serving alcohol. The lawsuit against the restaurant resulted in a $4.4 million settlement.

Liquor Liability Lawyer in West Chester

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident due to a person driving under the influence, our experienced West Chester attorneys are here to help.

Contact LUONGO BELLWOAR LLP to learn more about your options.