In our state (and in most states), it's not always just the intoxicated drinker who bears civil liability for any damage he or she might cause. Under Pennsylvania's dram shop law, a business or individual who gives alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is also legally responsible for any damage that person might cause.
The name "dram shop" comes from England, where gin was once sold by the spoonful, or "dram." In Pennsylvania, it applies not only to businesses that serve alcohol, like bars and restaurants, but also 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.
Most often, the Pennsylvania dram shop law is used after an intoxicated person causes a serious auto accident. It's often a part of a larger lawsuit filed against the driver himself or herself. However, a dram shop lawsuit doesn't have to be an auto accident -- if a bar serves a visibly intoxicated person who then starts a fistfight and seriously injures another patron, that patron could sue the bar under the dram shop law. That means you may have less time than you think to decide whether you want to file a lawsuit.
If you or someone you care about has been injured by someone else's alcohol-related negligence, we can help you evaluate your case. Click here to contact us and get your free case evaluation.