Liquor liability is something that all Philadelphia residents should consider. Under Pennsylvania’s liquor liability law, businesses that serve alcohol can be liable for injuries caused by a customer drinking at their place of business. Liquor liability laws are also called dram shop laws.

An example of this situation would involve a customer eating dinner at a restaurant and having a few drinks. The customer leaves the restaurant and causes a fatal car accident, killing a pedestrian. In this scenario, the family of the pedestrian who died could bring a lawsuit for damages against the restaurant. 

What Does Pennsylvania’s Liquor Liability Law Mean for You?

Every day, people in Philadelphia drink too much alcohol at bars and restaurants throughout the city. If you have suffered an injury due to a restaurant over-serving a customer alcohol, you could be entitled to damages. If a drunk driver caused the car accident that caused your severe injuries, you should investigate whether the drunk driver was drinking alcohol in a bar or restaurant. 

In many cases, the drunk driver or person who caused your injuries does not have enough resources to pay your medical bills and other expenses. They might not even carry car insurance through which you can seek compensation. When a business is involved and liable, you can sue the restaurant that served alcohol to the drunk driver who caused your injuries. Businesses often have commercial liability insurance policies and more assets than individual drivers. 

You Could Be Entitled to Damages for Your Injuries 

It is worth looking into and investigating the cause of your injuries to see if you are entitled to damages. When an injured person succeeds in a liquor liability lawsuit, he or she is entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include all of your past and future medical bills, medical equipment, past and future lost wages, and any other financial losses you have suffered due to your injuries. 

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, and other losses that are more difficult to quantify. The ability to succeed in recovering compensation for your injuries could help you and your family tremendously. Many victims of serious injuries are unable to pay their medical bills. Many people who suffer serious injuries are unable to work and are concerned about how they will pay their bills and support their families. 

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Liquor Liability Law

In Pennsylvania, when a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or a habitual drunkard, they could be liable for injuries caused by that intoxicated customer. Pennsylvania’s liquor liability law applies to any establishment that carries alcohol licenses. 

While these laws usually come into play when someone becomes drunk at a restaurant or bar, any establishment that is for-profit and serving alcohol could be liable. For example, if you attend a private wedding with a staff of hired caterers, the catering business could be liable if its employees continued to serve a visibly intoxicated person. 

Only establishments that operate for profit are subject to the liquor liability law. To succeed in a liquor liability law, you will need to prove the following:

  • An agent or employee of a business establishment served alcohol to a person who was “visibly intoxicated”
  • The business’ decision to serve alcohol to that visibly intoxicated person directly caused your personal injuries or damages

What is the Definition of “Visible Intoxication”?

Philadelphia restaurants and bars are not liable for every injury or death caused by their customers. If they were, they would not be able to survive financially because they would constantly be subject to lawsuits. Instead, plaintiffs must prove that the customer who caused the injury was visibly intoxicated. Signs of visible intoxication include the following:

  • Someone sways or staggers while they are trying to stay still, or hold onto a chair
  • Someone stops talking in the middle of a sentence or loses their train of thought
  • Someone is confused and cannot answer simple questions
  • Someone needs to lean against a wall or structure
  • Speaking very deliberately or slowly or slurred speech
  • Someone is fumbling with his or her phone or wallet
  • Someone falls off of their chair or stool
  • Dilated pupils or glassy eyes
  • Droopy eyelids or a tired appearance

What Happens When the Business Violated the Liquor Code?

In some cases, you will not even need to prove that the restaurant or bar served the visibly intoxicated customer who later caused your injuries. If you can prove that the bar or restaurant was violating Pennsylvania’s liquor code, the court will find that there was “negligence per se.” This means that you will not need to prove anything else except in terms of the vendor’s liability to support a personal injury lawsuit. 

An example of negligence per se would be if the vendor served alcohol to a 17-year-old in violation of Pennsylvania law, and that teenager caused a car accident. If you were injured in the accident, you will be able to seek damages directly from the vendor who served him alcohol. 

Are Private Individuals Subject to the Liquor Liability Law?

Private individuals can also face liability if they serve alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated in a social setting. For example, if you have a group of friends over to your house for a barbeque and your friend begins to act intoxicated, this law might apply. If you can tell that your friends are intoxicated, you must stop serving them alcohol, or face liability. 

If your friend pressures you into giving him another alcoholic beverage, when you know he has been stumbling around and slurring his speech, you could be liable for any injuries or death that your friend causes because of his intoxication. 

Contact Our Law Firm Today

If a business caused your personal injuries by overserving customer alcohol, you might have a right to compensation for your injuries. At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., we work on a contingency basis. Our customers will not have to pay us anything until we recover compensation for them. Call 215-515-2976 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer at our firm about your case.

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