Man at a dram shop, about to drink and drive

What Is Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Law?

The vast majority of states have some kind of dram shop law in place. Pennsylvania is included in this majority. If an intoxicated individual has caused you harm, whether it be in a drunk driving accident or some other way, you may be able to seek compensation for damages. The term “dram shop” comes from England where gin used to be sold by the “dram.” Pennsylvania’s dram shop law applies to businesses that serve alcohol, such as bars and restaurants. It also can apply to private events where alcohol is being served. 

Governed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, the state’s dram shop law allows a person who has suffered harm caused by an intoxicated person to, under certain circumstances, file a civil claim seeking money damages from the business or person who provided the intoxicated individual with alcohol. These damages can cover losses incurred by the injured party, such as medical bills and lost wages. It can also help cover the value of lost future wages, property damages, and pain and suffering.

An Overview of Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Law

Pennsylvania’s dram shop law holds a business or individual that provides alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated accountable for any damage that the intoxicated individual may cause. The dram shop law is often applied in cases where a drunk driver has injured someone in an auto accident. A lawsuit is usually filed against both the drunk driver and the business that provided alcohol to the drunk driver. This law can also be used in cases where a visibly intoxicated individual starts a bar fight and causes injury to another patron. The injured patron could file a claim for damages pursuant to Pennsylvania’s dram shop law. 

Additionally, the state dram shop law includes civil liability against social hosts who provide alcohol to minors. If the minor causes harm to someone else after the host has provided them with alcohol, then the social host may be on the hook to pay damages. It is important to note, however, while social host liability is applicable in cases where the alcohol was provided to a minor, it is not applicable in claims involving intoxicated adults, even if the adult was visibly intoxicated.

In order to hold a bar or other business liable pursuant to Pennsylvania’s dram shop law, you must be able to show that an employee or agent of the business served alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated. Visible intoxication does not depend on a person’s actual blood alcohol content (BAC). Rather it depends on outward signs of intoxication being displayed by the person. Signs supporting “visible intoxication” include things like bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. You must also be able to prove that the business serving the alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person directly led to your injuries.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys

Intoxicated individuals can cause serious damages, especially on the road. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you may have a chance to recover compensation not only from the drunk driver but from the establishment who provided that driver with alcohol. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are here to pursue every avenue of recovery for you. Contact us today.