Dram shop laws are designed to prevent those who drink alcohol from becoming intoxicated to the point that they cause injuries to themselves or others. In Pennsylvania, as in most other states, dram shop liability laws permit victims of intoxicated behavior to sue the people or establishments that knowingly served alcohol when the patron was visibly intoxicated.
At Cooper Schall & Levy, we have the skills and experience to get you compensation if you were harmed by the negligent or reckless actions of someone who was overserved alcohol at a bar or restaurant. We have the strategies and legal tools to help you sue both the person who was drunk and the person/entity that recklessly contributed to their state of intoxication. This is often applied in car accident cases, but is not confined to vehicle-related incidents.
How Dram Shop Liability Laws Work in Pennsylvania Car Accidents
A dram shop is a commercial establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, such as a bar, tavern, or restaurant. Pennsylvania dram shop liability laws make it possible to hold such establishments accountable for serving or selling alcohol to persons who later cause property damage, injury, or death to another, including:
- Minors (under 21 years of age)
- Persons observably intoxicated
- Habitual drunkards
- People with known intemperate habits
Though these laws may use some antiquated language, their meaning is clear. Any licensed individual and the ownership of the dram shop may be held liable for damages if they knowingly contribute to any person’s inebriation and resulting injurious behavior.
Signs of Observable Intoxication or of Being a Minor
Pennsylvania law requires bartenders and other servers of alcohol to recognize signs of intoxication. If someone is experiencing these signs, they should not serve the individual more alcohol:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loud, boisterous speech
- Lack of coordination
Of course, a person may exhibit one or more of these signs without being drunk which is a good reason to have a savvy, persuasive lawyer in your corner.
How Cooper Schall & Levy Can Help You Sue
If you have been injured by drunk driving, aggressive assault, poor coordination, or impulsive behavior that resulted from intoxication, our dram shop liability attorneys will fight strenuously to recover the damages you deserve by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your case
- Identifying, locating, and interviewing witnesses
- Viewing any available videos (surveillance or private), relevant texts, emails
- Listening to any recorded cell phone calls, subpoenaing them if necessary
- Examining police reports and medical records
- Investigating the defendant’s history of any similar negligence or misconduct
- Consulting with medical or other experts whose testimony can bolster your case
Most importantly, our legal advocates will leverage our determination and well-honed skills to negotiate and/or litigate forcefully to bring you maximum compensation.
First-Party and Third-Party Dram Shop Liability Cases
In both types of dram shop liability cases, the customer was overserved alcohol by a negligent individual who failed to refuse to provide more alcohol to someone who was clearly already intoxicated, putting the customer and the public in danger. The difference is that in a first-party case the customer is the injured party, while in a third-party case the customer injured someone else.
Examples of a First-Party Dram Shop Liability Case:
The inebriated person stumbled and fell in the bar, fracturing a hip
The overserved customer staggered out of the restaurant and walked into a lampost and suffered a concussion
An underaged person who was served way too much alcohol passed out and suffered a sexual attack as a result
Examples of a Third-Party Dram Shop Liability Case
- The inebriated person fell on and took down another customer who broke her nose
- The inebriated customer drove drunk and killed a passenger in another car
- The drunk customer staggered over to a stranger and assaulted him
It should be noted that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations of 2 years from the date of injury applies in both first-party and 3rd-party dram shop liability cases.
Damages Our Dram Shop Liability Attorney Will Fight to Recover
If you have suffered harm because of the negligence of a dram shop bartender/owner, you are entitled to meaningful compensation. Each case is different but, depending on circumstances, we may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical and rehabilitation costs
- Lost income, present and future
- Property damage or loss
- Extended nursing care
- Replacement costs (e.g. childcare)
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death in a first- or third-party dram shop liability case, we will work hard to bring you damages to cover final medical costs, funeral and burial costs, and loss of financial and emotional support. Though we know that no amount of money can ease your grief, we will do all we can to bring you justice.
Contact Our Experienced Dram Shop Liability Attorneys Today
There are several things that make a dram shop liability case difficult to win, but the professionals at Cooper Schall & Levy are prepared for obstacles. Our lawyers have a strong track record of handling these cases successfully. Contact us now for a free consultation. We will charge you no attorneys’ fees until we win your case.