Far too many drunk driving accidents occur because restaurants and bars continue to serve patrons who are visibly intoxicated. For this reason, a number of states enacted dram shop laws. Pennsylvania and New Jersey dram shop laws allow the victims of drunk driving accidents to hold negligent restaurants and bars liable for their injuries in a civil claim, under certain circumstances.
What are dram shop laws?
When people are extremely intoxicated, they pose a hazard not only to themselves but to others around them. They could get in a fight, fall down the stairs causing others to fall, or even get behind the wheel and cause a drunk driving accident.
Dram shop laws, sometimes known as liquor liability laws, make it possible to hold those who serve alcohol liable for the actions of those they serve. These laws apply to any bar, restaurant, hall, or other establishment that has a license to sell and/or serve alcohol.
What does the Pennsylvania Liquor Code say about liquor liability?
Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws fall under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code (Section 4-497). This law outlines the circumstances that allow injury victims to hold businesses liable for the injuries caused by an intoxicated person served there. In Pennsylvania, a business may be liable if it furnishes alcohol to anyone who is “visibly intoxicated.”
In fact, case law has shown that almost any violation of the state liquor laws is an example of “negligence per se.” This means you only have to prove that the business violated the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, which is often much easier than showing it knowingly served patrons who were already drunk.
In addition, the Pennsylvania dram shop laws allow accident victims to hold individuals, called “social hosts,” responsible for serving alcohol in their homes if the intoxicated person was under the age of 21. Individuals serving in their home cannot be held responsible for the actions of drunk adults.
Does New Jersey have dram shop laws?
New Jersey also has a dram shop law, as outlined in the New Jersey Revised Statutes (Section 2A:22A-4). This law allows a civil suit against a business or other vendor if it served alcohol to a person who was “visibly intoxicated” or under 21.
This type of liability may also extend to social hosts, according to the New Jersey Revised Statutes (Section 2A:15-5.5). This is true even if the driver poured his or her own drinks or drank alcohol provided by other guests.
What type of damages can I collect in a civil dram shop claim?
If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by an intoxicated person in PA or NJ, you may be able to recover a wide range of damages from both the person who caused the accident and the vendor who served him or her. Some common examples include:
- Medical treatment
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Income lost due to disability
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Other accident-related losses
Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey give accident victims a maximum of two years to file a dram shop claim. This clock begins running the day you suffer injuries, so it is important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
How can I pursue a Pennsylvania dram shop claim?
Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws protect your right to compensation if you suffer injuries due to an intoxicated person’s negligent actions. However, filing a dram shop claim can be difficult, especially if you do not have an intimate knowledge of dram shop laws in your state.
If you suffered injuries because of someone else’s alcohol-related mistake in the Philadelphia area, we can help. Contact the accident lawyers at Cordisco & Saile, LLC.
We have experience filing liquor liability cases, and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free consultation.