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Dram Shop Liability

If a person suffers serious injuries as the result of a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, the negligent motorist can be liable for medical bills and other damages but may not be financially able to compensate the victim. Depending on the circumstances that led to the drunk driver becoming intoxicated, a third party could also be liable for an accident victim’s injuries.

Lawsuits involving injuries caused by people who were driving under the influence (DUI) are governed by dram shop laws. The name comes from the liquid measurement of a dram that was used in colonial times by alcohol-serving establishments.

Under Pennsylvania’s dram shop law, a person who is injured by a drunk driver may have legal recourse against the bar, restaurant, or other establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated motorist who caused the crash. Most businesses are prepared to deny responsibility for the actions of any drunk driver and will vigorously fight any attempt to be held liable for overserving patrons.

Dram Shop Liability Lawyer in West Chester, PA

If you sustained catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed by a drunk driver in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it will be in your best interest to have legal representation that will fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

The West Chester DUI accident attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices work as a team to get justice for clients in communities throughout Chester County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County. Call (610) 719-3190 right now to set up a free, no obligation consultation that will let our lawyers review your case.


Chester County Dram Shop Litigation Information Center


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Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law

Pennsylvania Liquor Code § 4-493(1) prohibits any liquor licensee or employee thereof “to sell, furnish or give any liquor or malt or brewed beverages, or to permit any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any minor.”

In a dram shop liability case, an accident victim will need to prove two things:

  • The Negligent Party was Visibly Intoxicated or a Minor — If the drunk driver was under 21 years of age, then bar receipts can usually be adequate proof that a minor was served alcohol. Visible intoxication is a much tougher burden to prove, as most employees of the establishment will claim that the drunk driver did not exhibit any signs of intoxication. Experienced attorneys, however, may be able to find witnesses or use evidence of the amount of alcohol consumed by a drunk driver to prove that employees should have known the patron was overserved.
  • The Alcohol Served to the Customer Directly Caused Injuries — In order for an establishment to be held liable under Pennsylvania’s dram shop law, the service of alcohol to an already intoxicated person must be directly linked to the automobile accident that caused the victim’s injuries. In other words, an establishment may not be liable if the intoxicated customer consumed more alcohol at another location after leaving or if several hours passed between leaving the establishment and the accident.

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Types of Injuries in West Chester Dram Shop Cases

Most employees in bars, restaurants, and other establishments that sell alcohol in Pennsylvania are specifically trained to be responsible when serving alcohol. Despite these intentions, customers can often be overserved or illegally served drinks because of employees who were busy, inattentive, or more concerned about making money than possibly upsetting a customer by refusing to serve.

Regardless of an establishment or employee’s excuse for why customers were served when they were minors or already intoxicated, these decisions to serve alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated people can have horrific consequences.

Some of the possible injuries suffered by victims of drunk driving accidents may include, but are not limited to:

In addition to the medical bills associated with the cost of treating these injuries, victims can also be entitled to compensation for a variety of other damages resulting from drunk driving accidents. Additional emotional and financial harm may include lost wages, property damage, and loss of consortium.


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Pennsylvania Dram Shop Liability Resources

A Handbook About Responsible Sales of Alcohol for Pennsylvania Licensees — The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Bureau of Licensing produced this handbook to help licensees guarantee successful business operations. Topics covered in the handbook include the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), hiring responsible managers and employees, and handling minors in an establishment. You can also learn more about signs of visible intoxication, find a quick reference list for help, and read answers to frequently asked questions.

Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Dram Shop Liability — The Community Guide is a website that houses the official collection of all findings of the Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, nonfederal, unpaid group of public health and prevention experts that was established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 1996. The Task Force concluded “on the basis of strong evidence that dram shop liability is effective in preventing and reducing alcohol-related harms,” and you can read results of its systematic review of 11 studies on this website. You can find various publications and supporting materials relating to dram shop liability.


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Ciccarelli Law Offices - A Lawyer for Dram Shop Litigation in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in an accident caused by drunk driver? If the negligent motorist was overserved by an establishment in Pennsylvania, you could be entitled to additional compensation for the harm you suffered.

Ciccarelli Law Offices has offices located in West Chester, Radnor, Plymouth Meeting, Springfield, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Lancaster, and Kennett Square. You can have out experienced West Chester personal injury attorneys review your case as soon as you call (610) 719-3190 for a free consultation.


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