Pennsylvania Dram Shop or Bar Laws
What Does the Term “Dram Shop” Mean?
The term “dram shop” stems from England, where alcohol was once served by the dram, or spoonful. It is now generally used to describe bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to patrons. Under Pennsylvania law, a business or individual that serves alcohol to a person who is clearly intoxicated is legally responsible for any damages caused by the intoxicated person. It is often used in automobile accident cases, where the at-fault driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol. A dram shop lawsuit can be difficult to prove, so the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney is vital to the success of these cases.
What the Law Says
The Pennsylvania Dram Shop Act states that no third party can hold a licensee liable for damage inflicted off of the licensee’s property unless the at-fault customer was sold, furnished or given alcohol by the licensee or an agent of the licensee while the customer was visibly intoxicated. To successfully bring a suit under this statute, the plaintiff must prove:
- That the serving party was an employee or agent of the establishment
- That the customer was visibly intoxicated – This standard largely depends on the physical appearance of the customer at the time of service. Slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and inability to stand without assistance are all reasonable signs of intoxication. In cases involving an automobile accident, blood alcohol test results, or a DUI conviction, may prove sufficient to establish intoxication.
- The decision to serve the alcohol proximately led to the resulting damages or injuries.
Though dram shop lawsuits usually involve automobile accident cases, they can also stem from other situations, like a drunken bar fight or destruction of property by an intoxicated party. In each of these situations, the court requires substantial evidence to prove the allegations. Mere speculation is not sufficient to secure a determination of liability from the court. For this reason, it is imperative that you secure representation from an attorney with experience in handling Pennsylvania Dram Shop cases.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney in Jenkinown, PA – Randy Kaplan
If you were injured or incurred damages by an intoxicated individual, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to discuss the merits of your case. Randy H. Kaplan Law Offices can provide you with the representation you need to secure the compensation your case deserves. Contact the Randy H. Kaplan Law Offices online or call 215-576-8870.