Dram Shop Liability in Pennsylvania

September 12, 2018

Under Pennsylvania law — and in some other state jurisdictions — those who have been injured in a car accident by a drunk driver defendant may also be entitled to bring an action against the business or individual who provided alcohol to the intoxicated driver.  This is known as “dram shop liability” and the contours of such liability can be rather confusing for the plaintiff unaccustomed to or otherwise unfamiliar with the law in this respect.

Let’s take a brief look at how it works.

Business Liability

Commercial and non-commercial parties are subject to different dram shop liability standards under the law.  In Pennsylvania, alcohol vendors — businesses — that furnish alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals may be held liable for the injuries that the intoxicated person subsequently causes.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver defendant, and you later discover that the driver was furnished alcohol by a bartender (despite being clearly and visibly intoxicated at the time), then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from the bar itself.

Importantly, Pennsylvania law also imposes dram shop liability on businesses that furnish alcohol to individuals in violation of some other liquor regulation.  This is a rather common scenario, in fact, and will give you an opportunity to recover damages from the business defendant even when they did not furnish alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual.

For clarity, consider the following.

Suppose that a liquor shop furnishes alcohol to a minor — even if that minor is not visibly intoxicated at the time.  You are injured in a car accident by that minor, who becomes intoxicated due to consuming the provided alcohol.  Given the circumstances, the shop may be held liable for your injuries (caused by the subsequently intoxicated minor).

Social Host Liability

Dram shop liability for social hosts (i.e., non-commercial defendants) is somewhat more limited in comparison to businesses.  In Pennsylvania, social hosts may only be held liable for injuries caused by their minor guests who they have furnished with alcohol.  Social hosts may not be held liable for injuries caused by their adult guests, even if the host has furnished alcohol to an adult who is a known alcoholic or is visibly intoxicated at the time.

Contact Us to Arrange for a Free Consultation With an Easton Car Accident Lawyer

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience representing injured car accident plaintiffs in litigation, including situations wherein a business or social host may be held liable under Pennsylvania dram shop laws.  We understand that your claims may be quite a bit more complex than it initially appears, and as such, we approach every case with the intention of fully investigating the facts and developing a customized strategy to ensure maximum compensation.

Call (215) 348-2088 or submit an online case evaluation to schedule a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation with an experienced Easton car accident lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today.