Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions, affects their ability to react quickly to certain situations, and impairs good judgment. While it is common knowledge that drunk driving is a bad idea under any circumstances, what may come as a surprise is the fact that the liability for injuries may not always fall on the drunk driver alone. In the state of Pennsylvania, other parties may be held liable for injuries resulting from a drunk driving accident, including a vendor who sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, or a social host who served alcohol to a guest who is under the age of 21.
The term “dram shop” refers to the amount of gin that 18th century establishments sold by the spoonful, which was called a dram. Today, dram shop laws apply to individuals who serve alcohol to patrons who already appear intoxicated. According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, a person is legally prohibited from selling alcohol to the following patrons:
Any individual who has been injured in an alcohol-related incident, including a drunk driving car accident, can file a civil dram shop claim against the business that sold alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person. The victim may seek monetary damages for expenses including medical bills, property damage, and current and future lost wages. Claims must be filed within two years of the injury.
If an adult serves alcohol to a minor who is a guest in his or her home, and the minor injures another person as a result of being intoxicated, the social host can be held liable for those injuries. For example, if a 19-year-old guest is served alcohol by an adult host, and the minor proceeds to injure another individual in a drunk driving accident, the host can be held liable for costs associated with the injury, including all medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. It is also possible that the host could face criminal charges for serving alcohol to a minor. The state of Pennsylvania does not recognize social host liability claims involving intoxicated adults who are 21 years of age or older, even if they are visibly intoxicated. Like dram shop claims, social host liability claims must be filed within two years of the injury.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by an individual who has had too much to drink, the Pittsburgh car accident lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. can help. We will thoroughly investigate the details of the case and determine who may have contributed to the accident, including the driver, the establishment that served the driver, or a social host if the driver was a minor. We will seek the maximum financial compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 412-765-1888 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County and New Castle, Pennsylvania.