Liquor Liability Claims

Liquor Liability Claims

It is axiomatic that drunk driving is a sad, deadly reality in our society. Despite the DUI/DWI criminal laws targeted against the drunk driver, there are civil claims a victim may assert against both the drunk driver and the bar or restaurant which served alcohol to the driver who was underage or visibly intoxicated.

Claims against the bar or restaurant which served alcohol are known as a “dram shop” claims”. The term “dram Shop” originated in 18th century England when gin was sold by the spoonful and referred to as a “dram”.

Although some drunk drivers become intoxicated on their own, liability can attach to drinking establishments if they served alcohol to the drunk driver who is visibly intoxicated. Dram shop laws permit a victim to seek money damages from a drinking establishment if alcohol is sold to a person who is visibly intoxicated, or a minor.

A careful look at a drunk driving collision must include an inquiry to determine if the case involves a dram shop claim. Pennsylvania dram shop laws, which assign liability to servers of alcohol, permit a victim (or family member in a fatal collision) to make a claim against the drinking establishments if they served alcohol to the drunk driver who was visibly intoxicated when served. Proving fault in a dram shop case is complex because fault against the bar or restaurant is generally regarded as an intensive fact-sensitive inquiry. Experience dictates that success in pursuing a dram shop case turns on quick preservation of facts and witnesses, and a clear knowledge of the complex laws which surround a dram shop case.

What is a Dram Shop case?

Dram shop refers to a civil cause of action against places of business which serve alcohol and impose civil liability on these establishments when they serve alcohol to someone underage or already intoxicated who then goes on to break the law or get in an accident that hurts themselves or others.

In Pennsylvania, individuals can recover financial compensation when the establishment who served them alcohol knew, or should have known, that they were visibly intoxicated when served, were unfit to drive, or should have been stopped from drinking.

What are Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Laws?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Code, Section 4.493(1) provides the statutory basis for imposing civil liability for serving a person who is visibly intoxicated. Specifically, it is unlawful for any business to “to sell, furnish or give any liquor or malted or brewed beverages, or to permit any liquor or malted or brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any insane person, or to any minor, or to habitual drunkards, or persons of unknown untempered habits.”

The gravamen of a dram shop case center upon “visible intoxication” of the person served.  “Visible intoxication” standard requires that a victim must prove that a person was served was served alcohol even after being visibly intoxicated.

Ferrara Law Offices prove dram shop cases not only through detailed discovery and investigation, but with also through the use of expert toxicologists who provide opinions relating to “visible intoxication” by extrapolating blood alcohol results to show what a patron’s blood alcohol level when served.

If you are a loved one has been victimized by a a person being “over served” alcohol, consult first with an experienced personal injury attorney who has a track record of dealing successfully with dram shop cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact Ferrara Law Offices, P.C. for a free consultation.

What is the interplay between the Dram Shop laws and Minors illegally served alcohol?

Dram Shop laws in Pennsylvania impose liability on commercial vendors and social hosts who supply alcoholic beverages to minors. In Pennsylvania, Dram Shop laws serve as a deterrent to underage drinking by imposing liability upon those who serve alcohol to minors.

Under Pennsylvania law, furnishing alcohol to a minor is a serious crime. It is illegal for drinking establishments to serve underage individuals.

Pennsylvania also holds all persons liable (i.e., anybody) for social host liability laws if they serve a minor alcohol. When an underage drinker obtains alcohol at a party and then causes a car crash injuring innocent victims, then the party host could be legally responsible fore serving the minor. In fact, the victim could sue the party host for providing alcohol to the minor who in turn caused the crash and the resulting injuries and damages.

Ferrara Law Offices aggressively pursues dram shop claims in the greater Philadelphia Area. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact Ferrara Law Offices, P.C. for a free consultation.