A drunk driving accident can devastate lives in an instant. Of course, the driver is responsible for their own actions. But can others be legally liable, too? What if the drunk driver left a bar where they were overserved? Our personal injury law firm explains if a bar can be liable for overserving in Pennsylvania.
Can a bar be liable for overserving in Pennsylvania?
Yes, a bar can be liable for overserving in Pennsylvania. If a bar serves alcohol to someone who is legally intoxicated, the bar owners may be legally liable for the harm that person causes to others. The same laws apply to other places that serve alcohol like restaurants. The law that makes a bar liable for overserving in Pennsylvania is called a Dram Shop law.
What are Pennsylvania Dram Shop laws?
Pennsylvania Dram Shop laws are laws that prohibit establishments from overserving alcohol to patrons. The standard is if the bar serves someone who is visibly intoxicated. The classic example is a bar that serves too many drinks to a patron. The patron then drives and gets in an accident. Both the driver and the bar that serves the alcohol may be legally liable to the victim for their damages.
Proving Dram Shop liability in Pennsylvania
To prove Dram Shop liability, the victim must show that the bar served the person alcohol after the person was already visibly intoxicated. There must be causation between the accident and the alcohol. In other words, if the accident occurs two days later, there’s no link between serving too much alcohol and the victim’s harm. How much alcohol the bar serves over what time period is an important question. Witnesses are important as well to testify to the person’s state of intoxication.
As you work with your personal injury attorney to prove Dram Shop liability, it’s important to gather records from the establishment. There may be receipts and video that can help you. The establishment may even have records of other patrons who had reservations at the time who may serve as witnesses.
Defenses to bar overserving liability
Expect the bar to raise the defense of comparative negligence. They may say that it’s the driver’s own fault that they drank too much. However, with your personal injury attorney, you can show the jury how the establishment has a responsibility to society for their own actions. Overcoming comparative negligence is an important task in your claim as you work to hold the bar liable for overserving.
How a personal injury law firm can help
If you’re hurt because of someone who is overserved, a personal injury attorney can help you to uphold your rights. It’s important to identify the right parties, name them in your claim and follow the legal steps to serve them with the lawsuit. The elements that you must prove against the driver are different than what you must prove against a bar or restaurant. Your attorney understands these issues. They can help you work effectively to get the compensation that you deserve and hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.