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People Hurt by an Intoxicated Person May be Able to Sue Under the State’s Dram Shop Laws

May 05, 2020

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

There are a number of consequences that can come from having too much to drink at a bar or other establishment. A person could get into an accident on the way home and, if the crash is severe enough, could even injure someone or kill them. When this happens, many drivers think that they are the only negligent party, but that is not true. In Pennsylvania, there are dram shop laws that state that establishments that serve alcohol have certain responsibilities as well, and when they do not fulfill them, they can also be held liable.

What are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws are personal injury laws that hold bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other establishments that serve alcohol liable when they over-serve their guests and that over-serving results in an accident that causes injuries. The term ‘dram shop’ comes from Britain, where historically gin was served by the spoonful. The term ‘dram’ means spoonful.

In Pennsylvania, the dram shop laws of the state allow injured individuals to hold establishments liable for paying them compensation when the accident was caused by over-serving an intoxicated person. The dram shop laws of the state include a number of other infractions, as well. These include serving alcohol to a minor, serving alcohol after hours, and serving alcohol without a license.

Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws do not only apply to motor vehicle accidents, either. Any injuries that result from a person being served too much alcohol can result in a lawsuit against the dram shop that provided the alcohol. For example, if a customer of a bar is over-served and starts a fight that seriously injures another person, the injured individual can hold the bar liable.

Proving a Case Against a Dram Shop

To successfully pursue a case against an establishment that over-served alcohol to someone, injured victims must prove certain elements of their claim. They must first prove that a person that worked for an establishment served alcohol to someone that was visibly intoxicated. This can mean that the person served had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or showed other signs of intoxication.

Injured individuals must also prove that the establishment’s decision to over-serve another individual was the direct cause of their injuries. When an injured person can prove these elements of their case, they may be successful in pursuing a lawsuit against the bar, restaurant, nightclub, or other establishment.

Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers can Help with Your Case

Although Pennsylvania has put dram shop laws into place to help protect injured individuals from others that were over-served, these cases are not easy to prove. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can help with your claim and prove that an establishment was responsible for your injuries. If you have been injured by someone that was served when they were already intoxicated, call us at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.


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