Is Dram Shop Liability Making A Difference?

Considering the scope of damages that can attach to dram shop liability, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board maintains a webpage on the subject and other responsible drinking issues. 

Dram shop liability means that restaurants and bars can be held responsible for over serving patrons who then cause injury to third parties because of their intoxication. Liability theories include personal injury, property damage and wrongful death. In addition to dram shop liability, restaurants and bars that serve alcohol may also benefit by offering server training.

However, an association’s legislative position on dram shop liability does not necessarily represent the best interests of a personal injury victim. For example, establishments that serve alcohol are aware of the insurance costs that may result from dram shop liability, as well as its impact on coverage requirements.  

However, a law firm like ours that focuses on a variety of civil lawsuits involving personal injury, including dram shop liability, knows the devastation that drunk driving can cause to innocent bystanders and other drivers on the road. Aggressive efforts against drunk driving should not be curtailed simply for the sake of lowering insurance premiums. 

Simply put, these and other efforts are necessary to deter drunk drivers. In a recent example, police arrested a 54-year-old repeat offender after she ran a red light. If an individual cannot control his or her drinking, despite multiple punishments, then restaurants, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol must also do their part.

However, a restaurant or bar is only liable for serving alcohol to an individual that was visibility intoxicated. Needless to say, the defendant or plaintiff can interpret the definition of visible intoxication quite differently. For that reason, proving the evidentiary elements in a dram shop lawsuit often requires the assistance of an aggressive attorney. Check out our firm’s website to learn more about dram shop and other personal injury claims. 

Source: NBC Philadelphia, “Police Charge Delaware Woman With 5th DUI,” Kelly Bayliss, April 7, 2015