It is a huge problem. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation statistics from 2014, more than 10,000 accidents were related to alcohol: 28% of the traffic deaths were alcohol-related, and 9% of all the car crashes that have been reported were also alcohol-related.
What Are The Dram Shop Laws In Pennsylvania?
In a nutshell, it is the unlawful furnishing of alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. So a person or business, who holds a liquor license, which could be a bar or a type social club, can be held liable if any of their servers or bartenders serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and then that person goes on to cause an accident in which somebody is injured.
Who Could Be Held Liable In A Dram Shop Case?
In any kind of alcohol-related accident, obviously the intoxicated driver can be responsible for driving while intoxicated, but any liquor licensee, that is a bar, a social club or anyone that holds a liquor license that is provided by the state, can be held accountable for furnishing, providing or selling liquor to a visibly intoxicated person, a minor or habitual drunkard, and that individual goes on to harm somebody or even gets hurt themselves.
The holder of the liquor license, that is the establishment itself, a bar or social club, including the owner, bartender or the server, would be covered under the establishment’s insurance policy, assuming they have one.
How Do Dram Shop Cases Differ From Personal Injury Claims?
In other personal injury cases you need to prove that somebody did something wrong or was negligent, i.e., breached some kind of a duty that was owed to the person who was injured. In a dram shop case you don’t need to prove negligence or a breach of some kind of duty. It is strictly statutory liability if you can establish that the drinking establishment provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations In A Dram Shop Case?
There are no specific notice requirements to start a dram shop action. Generally, the statute of limitations for a dram shop case is just like that of a personal injury case. It’s two years from the date of injury. Now there are some exceptions to that rule. If a minor is injured, then obviously there’s more time for the minor to bring a lawsuit on his or her behalf. Generally, it goes two years from the age that minor becomes of majority, and that is their 18th birthday. So you would have until their 20th birthday if the minor is injured.
Who Is Eligible To Bring A Claim In A Dram Shop Scenario?
You could have potentially an injured innocent bystander. That could be somebody driving another car, who happens to get involved in an accident with a drunk driver. It could be a pedestrian or a bicyclist, who’s on the road and gets struck by a drunk driver. It could be the passenger in the drunk driver’s car. And believe it or not, it could even be the drunk driver, him or herself.
Can A Drunk Driver Bring A Dram Shop Claim Themselves?
You don’t see it as often because the jury is obviously not as sympathetic, but you can certainly – if the drunk driver is seriously injured and they were served alcohol at a bar while they were visibly drunk, and then they went on to leave the bar and get involved in a single car accident and were the only injured party — technically, the injured party could sue for those injuries, especially if that drunk driver was continually furnished more alcohol when they were already visibly intoxicated. The jury is not as sympathetic as they are with the innocent bystander or a passenger, but it certainly is a viable claim, and they have been won.
How Can Contributory Or Comparative Negligence Impact A Dram Shop Claim?
According to Pennsylvania case law, contributory negligence does not bar recovery in a dram shop action. Comparative negligence can always be raised, but historically, it really has not had a barring effect in Pennsylvania.
For more information on Drunk Driving In Philadelphia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (215) 569-1212 today.