October 30, 2022

Who is Liable in This Dram Shop Law

When a road accident happens as a result of drunk driving, the most obvious place to place the blame is on the intoxicated driver. It may seem obvious to blame the driver since he is supposed to be responsible and make better choices. But, do you know that, under the dram shop law, other parties can share responsibility for the accident?

Suppose you have injuries as a consequence of a drunk driving accident. In that case, you can hire a DUI accident lawyer to help you explore your options and determine where to place the liability for your compensation. Here are the facts about dram shop law and how it may apply to your case.

What is Dram Shop Law?

The word “dram” means a measurement unit used in taverns and bars to sell alcohol. In the past, pubs and bars selling liquor were called dram shops. Under the dram shop act, a bar or tavern owner can be liable if a patron drinks at their establishment and goes on to drive and causes a drunk driving accident.

Individuals injured in such accidents can place blame on the establishment that served the alcoholic beverages to the patron that caused the accident. Dram shop liability allows the injured party to sue the establishment for compensation for their injuries and damages.

Types of Dram Shop Cases

First-party dram shop cases

In a first-party dram shop case, the intoxicated person can sue the establishment that served him alcohol. This case only applies if the intoxicated patron got involved in an accident and got injured. Winning such a case is an uphill battle; most people don’t win. Why? If such a case goes to trial, jurors and judges tend to hold the person who caused the accident responsible for his actions, especially if other people were injured in the accident. The drunk driver has a better chance of winning such a case if he is the only one injured.

A good example of a first-party dram shop case is when an establishment sells alcohol to a minor under legal drinking age who gets into an accident while drunk driving. Legal guardians of minors can sue the establishment for damages.

Third-party dram shop cases

In third-party dram shop cases, victims injured in a drunk driving accident can sue the establishment serving the intoxicated driver. Victims can be passengers riding with drunk drivers, other drivers, or pedestrians on the road.

A good example of such a case is when a drunk driver gets into an accident and both he and his passenger get injured. Both parties can sue the establishment that served alcohol to the drunk driver. In such an incident, the passenger will be the third-party claimant, while the drunk driver will be the first-party claimant.

Remember, as a third-party claimant, you are not pursuing compensation from the establishment instead of the drunk driver. Rather, you are seeking compensation from the establishment in addition to the drunk driver.

Who is Liable Under Dram Shop Law?

Dram shop laws allow claimants to sue businesses that serve alcoholic beverages to drunk drivers. Examples of establishments that can be sued include:

  • Bars
  • Taverns
  • Clubs
  • Restaurants
  • Liquor stores

To protect themselves, most establishments carry liability insurance. The insurance helps these establishments to compensate victims and pay fines if need be. In worst-case scenarios, if a claimant wins a case, an establishment’s liquor license may be revoked. 

It is hard to determine liability in any car accident. However, when you hire an experienced drunk driving lawyer, he will pursue all liable parties to maximize the amount of your settlement.

What Kind of Evidence is Required to Win a Dram Shop Case?

To improve your chances of winning a dram shop case, your drunk driving lawyer needs to collect enough evidence to prove that the establishment was negligent. The proof has to show that the employees or owner of the establishment kept serving the patron even after he was intoxicated and allowed him to drive in a drunken state. An establishment may also be liable if it keeps serving the patron after the “last call.”

Evidence your lawyer may collect includes:

  • Records of credit card charges or receipts showing how many drinks were purchased
  • Field sobriety test results, breathalyzer results, and police accident results
  • Camera footage of the drunk driver behaving visibly drunk
  • Social media posts, if any
  • Witness testimony

Dram Shop Case Compensations

Accidents as a result of drunk driving can cause serious injuries and even death. If the third-party victim was driving during the accident, the first course of action is to pursue compensation from the auto insurance company of the drunk driver. The claimant can also sue the establishment for other damages with the help of an experienced drunk driving lawyer. Punitive damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses in case the accident causes death
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement or disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Rental vehicles
  • Property damage
  • Lost earning potential due to disability
  • Home renovations for grab bars, wheelchair ramps, etc
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medications, ambulance rides, diagnostic imaging, medical bills for surgeries, and many more.

Hire Michael Alan Siddons, Esquire to Get The Best Representation for your Drunk Driving Accident Case Today

Employees or owners of an establishment that serves alcohol have no obligation to arrange alternate rides home or snatch their patrons’ keys when intoxicated. However, they have a legal responsibility not to continue serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. At Michael Alan Siddons, we understand the effects of drunk driving accidents on victims and how they destroy lives and devastate families.

Our drunk driving lawyers understand that establishments profiting from alcohol must be held accountable. If you or your loved one was seriously injured in a drunk driving accident, we will do our best to ensure you get justice and get compensation for damages caused. 

For a free case evaluation, visit us at THE LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL ALAN SIDDONS, ESQUIRE | MEDIA, PA 230 North Monroe Street Suite A Media, PA 19063. Call 610-255-7500 to schedule an appointment today.