Dram Shop Law Lawyer

Injuries suffered as a result of drunk driving accidents are too common. Each year, thousands of people are severely injured or killed by drunk drivers. In 2016, in Pennsylvania alone, there was on average, 28 alcohol-related crashes per day according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. However, car accidents are not the only result of visibly drunk people leaving bars, restaurants and clubs and stumbling into the every-day lives of the people around them and causing personal injuries to themselves or others. If you or your family member has been seriously injured by a drunk driver, or visibly intoxicated person in any other manner, it is likely you have a ton of questions and are wondering how you can get justice.

Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

At GSGB, our experienced personal injury attorneys have represented clients injured as a result of the actions of drunk drivers and visibly drunk individuals for years. Call today for a free and confidential evaluation of your drunk driving personal injury case and find out what your rights are.

What are Dram Shop Laws?

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, dram shop laws ensure that bars and club owners and the employees who serve visibly intoxicated or drunk individuals may be liable for the personal injuries that result from the drunk person’s actions when they have left the bar. Whether it is drunk driving car crashes, or drunken fights that spill over to innocent bystanders, overly drunk people are prone to cause a host of serious and catastrophic personal injuries. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, state laws determine when a bar owner or club is responsible for serving a visibly intoxicated person. Most often, serious injuries result from drunk driving accidents or fights, but the drunk person may also become a victim. Where a visibly intoxicated person is continually sold alcohol, and sustains a slip and fall or trip and fall injury, he may have a personal injury claim against the bar that served him drinks.

Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law

In Pennsylvania, the dram shop law applies not only to bars, clubs and restaurants, but also to private events. The statute makes it unlawful to serve drinks to people that are visibly intoxicated, minors, any insane person, any habitual drunkard, or any person of known untampered habits. While the most common dram shop cases involve drunk driving injuries, where both the drunk driver who caused the accident as well as the bar who served the driver alcohol after he or she was visibly drunk are sued.

How to Bring a Dram Shop Law Case

An experienced personal injury attorney will know the factors that go into proving a dram shop law case. In Pennsylvania, two things must be proven:

  1. An employee of the bar, or any establishment serving alcohol, served alcohol to a person at a time when that person was visibly intoxicated.
  2. The bar tender’s decision to serve alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person directly led to the personal injuries.

New Jersey Dram Shop Law and Social Host Liability

Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey dram shop law also requires that a licensed server served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor. However, New Jersey personal injury law separates Dram Shop law and Social Host Liability.

New Jersey Social Host Liability

In New Jersey, a social host is someone who does not hold a liquor license, nor is require to, and legally provides alcohol to a person of legal age to purchase alcohol. A social host can be liable for personal injuries under the following circumstances:

  • The social host “willfully and knowingly” served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. The social host is liable if the person was visibly intoxicated in the social host’s presence. However, the social host may also be liable if the person was not visibly intoxicated in the social host’s presence, but the social host served the person “under circumstances manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another.” An example of this would be if the social host served a person a dangerously high amount of shots in a small amount of time and the individual left the social host’s home soon after.
  • The social host provided alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person “under circumstances which created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the life or property of another, and the social host failed to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid the foreseeable risk.”
  • The social host provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and winds up causing a drunk driving accident with personal injuries.


How Do You Know if Someone is Visibly Intoxicated?

In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, whether someone is visibly intoxicated is determined by apparent signs of intoxication. This means is there evidence that shows the person was intoxicated, such as blood shot eyes, staggering, slurred speech, slouched posture. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands how important it is to thoroughly investigate the scene, to establish visible intoxication.

In Pennsylvania, the person’s blood alcohol content alone is not evidence enough that the person was visibly intoxicated. There has to be evidence that the person looked and acted very drunk. However, in cases where the blood alcohol content is so high that an expert could give an opinion that the person must have been visibly drunk, evidence of blood alcohol content may be enough to prove the person was visibly intoxicated. Additionally, if the person pleads guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, that may be used as circumstantial evidence as well, but is not enough alone to prove that the person was visibly intoxicated.

Proving the Visibly Drunk Person was Served Drinks

It is not enough just to show the person was visibly intoxicated and was at the bar before the incident. The personal injury lawyer must also prove that the bar actually served the visibly intoxicated person prior to the incident. It is not enough to assume that because the person was visibly drunk and coming from the bar that the bartender must have served drinks to a visibly drunk person. There must be evidence that shows, beyond just conjecture, that the bartender served the person when they were visibly intoxicated and that led to the incident that resulted in personal injury.


Dram Shop Personal Injury Cases

Dram shop cases can arise from varying circumstances. The personal injury lawyers at GSGB have experience in many different types of dram shop cases. Some of the varying places a dram shop claim can be brought against include:

  • Bars
  • Clubs
  • Restaurants
  • House parties
  • Boat parties
  • Casinos
  • Sporting events
  • Vacation houses
  • Ski lodges
  • Fraternity Parties
  • Parents allowing minors to drink at their home
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Trip and fall injuries
  • Drunk driving accidents

If You or a Family Member Has Been Injured or Killed by a Drunk Driver or Visibly Intoxicated Person

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed due to the actions of a drunk person, then you may be entitled to be compensated for the enormous toll the injuries have taken on your life. You have a right to reach out to a personal injury attorney to find out what your rights are and what you stand to lose or gain by pursing a personal injury law suit. At GSGB we represent clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, Lehigh County and all over the state of New Jersey. Call today and speak with a personal injury lawyer for a free and confidential case evaluation.


Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual care or situation. GSGB has offices in Philadelphia, Wayne and Voorhees and serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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