When a drunk driver causes an accident that leads to injuries or property damage, that driver will usually be held responsible for their actions. However, there are times when other parties aside from the impaired driver can be held liable for damages. In Pennsylvania, there is something called dram shop laws that allow establishments or licensed individuals who serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons to be held responsible for injuries or damages that an intoxicated person goes on to cause. Here, we want to examine exactly what the Pennsylvania dram shop laws say and how this can affect your drunk driving accident claim.
What is a Dram Shop – The Modern Version?
The term “dram shop” found its origins in 18th century England and was a term used to refer to any establishment that provided alcohol. The term has stuck around, but clearly, the definition of a dram shop has changed. For the purposes of Pennsylvania law, a dram shop can include any establishment that sells or provides alcohol to individuals, such as bars, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, and more. Additionally, Pennsylvania also applies dram shop laws to private events, which means social hosts can be held liable as well.
Dram shop laws apply not only to situations where an intoxicated driver causes an injury or property damage. This can also include situations where an intoxicated individual causes injuries to others in another way, including starting a fight, and even situations where the drunk individual causes themselves harm (slip and fall incident, falling down stairs, etc.).
There are certain conditions that must be met in order for Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws to apply. This includes:
- An employee or agent of an establishment serving alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated already
- The decision to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual was the proximate cause of any injuries or damage
The key here is determining whether or not a person was visibly intoxicated when they were served or sold alcohol. One problem with liability under dram shop laws is the subjectivity of determining whether or not a person is visibly intoxicated. Typically, employees, agents, or social hosts, should stop serving a person if they witness slurred speech, incoherent speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes, noticeable changes in behavior, falling or stumbling, impaired fine motor skills, poor coordination, impaired judgment, etc.
Types of Compensation Available
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the actions of an impaired driver or an intoxicated individual, you need to reach out to a skilled Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You may be able to recover various types of compensation, and a dram shop lawyer in Philadelphia will work diligently to explore all avenues of damage recovery. This includes the impaired driver’s insurance carrier as well as the possibility of compensation recovery under Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws.
Some of the types of compensation that may be available to victims in these cases include complete coverage of all medical expenses caused by the intoxicated individual, property damage expenses, lost wages if a person cannot work, various out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, and funeral and burial expenses in cases of wrongful death.