Dram Shop Laws:
According to the Pennsylvania. Highway Safety Report, drivers in this state experience about “4,000 alcohol-related crashes per year”. Approximately five percent of these result in wrongful deaths. Of course, the drivers who drink to the state of intoxication and then get behind the wheel of a car are responsible, but what about the bartenders and servers who provide the alcohol knowing that their patrons are going to drive home?
What about the bars and restaurants that allow this practice to go on night after night? Don’t they bear any liability? If you’ve suffered injuries in a DUI-related crash, or a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, it’s possible that the purveyor of the drinking establishment that served him or her may also be liable.
Dram Shop Laws Overview
Drunk driving can have effects on both the driver and other people on the road. A DUI exposes a drunk driver to lawsuits for damages. Sometimes, the drunk driver may not have adequate insurance to address the injuries that result in a drunk driving accident.
Dram shop laws make a bar/restaurant or person strictly liable to a plaintiff if the company or person provided alcoholic beverages to someone who was obviously drunk. In many cases, a bar, alcohol retailer, or individual is covered by insurance that more adequately compensates the plaintiff than the drunk driver’s automobile insurance.
Liability in a Dram Shop Case
It can be difficult to prove the fault of a business or social host under dram shop laws because different people have differing tolerance levels. The bartender may not know that someone has not eaten a lot that day, or feel the know they know the person that he or she is walking home, instead of driving their car.
What must be proved in a dram shop case varies depending on the state statutes? The person who gave or sold liquor to the drunk person can be held liable for damages, as well as exemplary damages.