What is Dram Shop Liability?

When a restaurant or other establishment sells alcohol to an intoxicated customer the restaurant itself may be liable if the customer injures another person because of being intoxicated. This is known as “dram shop” law. Oftentimes, a drunk driver is not the only one responsible for a crash caused by his intoxication. In fact, not only can a drunk driver be held liable for injuries caused in an alcohol-related car crash, but so can the establishment that served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver who caused the car crash. 

Although the majority of dram shop cases involve drunk driving, dram shop liability may also apply in cases involving assaults, bar fights, and other crimes. If a person  was over-served at an establishment, left the establishment, and committed  a violent crime thereafter, said establishment can be held responsible too.

Common Examples of Dram Shop

Under Pennsylvania dram shop law, an injured person or the family of a person killed by an intoxicated person can file a lawsuit against an establishment for over-serving alcohol to a clearly intoxicated person. Another driver, passengers of either the victim’s or drunk driver’s car, the family of the person killed by a drunk driver, and even the drunk driver himself has standing to sue under dram shop laws.

Some common examples include:

  • Alcohol was served to a minor
  • Alcohol was served to a visibly intoxicated person
  • Actively encouraged already intoxicated person to consume more liquor
  • Service of liquor was so continuous that it created a substantial risk of death
  • Allowed intoxicated person to leave the establishment.

These examples make establishments that serve alcohol responsible in alcohol-related incidents that lead to injury. Therefore, establishments that serve alcohol have a duty to prevent such incidents from happening by attacking the issue at its source.

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If a victim wants to file a claim against an establishment that serves alcohol, he or she must do so within two years from the day of the event. After that period of time, the statute of limitations expires.

A person filing a dram shop claim can seek compensation for several different reasons. These include:

  • Medical bills for any and all injuries, including hospitalization, therapy, medication, and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Replacement costs for damaged or destroyed property
  • Pain and suffering

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of an intoxicated individual or the outcome of an establishment over-serving, contact our team of attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. today.


Sources: 

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/dram-shop-laws.asp

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/dram-shop-laws-social-host-liability-alcohol-related-accidents-pennsylvania.html

https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/dram-shop-liability-state-statutes.aspx