Philadelphia Bar Liability / Dram Shop Claims Attorney

Did you realize that most states have laws that prevent bars from over-serving their patrons? These bar liability rules are called dram shop laws. They’re meant to protect motorists from drunk drivers. The laws in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania are simple. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and casinos in Philadelphia may not serve alcohol to any customer who is obviously drunk or who the staff members should realize is too drunk to serve. If the bar does provide alcohol to a patron who is in a car accident while driving home, the bar is legally responsible for the damages caused by the drunk driver that they over-served. If you’ve been injured in a collision with a driver who was served too much alcohol, call a Philadelphia dram shop liability lawyer who has expertise on filing a bar liability suit against the establishment.

Proof of “Visible Intoxication”

Pennsylvania and New Jersey use dram shop laws as the sole civil remedy in a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages or injuries caused by a bar, pub or casino that improperly serves alcoholic drinks to a person who is visibly intoxicated. Dram shop rules do not rely on blood alcohol content to establish negligence. People who serve alcohol must be on the lookout for signs of intoxication, including staggering, poor balance, fighting, loud conduct, slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. However, most servers will not confess to serving a customer who exhibited signs of drunkenness.

These laws can be tricky, which is why an experienced Philadelphia dram shop liability lawyer is vital. Even with a liberal interpretation of the Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws, visible intoxication is not proven simply by demonstrating that alcohol was served to a customer who was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Appellate courts have repeatedly stated that the plaintiff must prove that the customer was served alcohol while they were “visibly intoxicated”. That means that the sole determining factor is how the person looked, without taking into account other medical evidence. However, a toxicology expert can form an opinion on whether the customer would have appeared drunk based on blood alcohol content when the last drink was served.

People who drink every day may not appear drunk even though they have a blood alcohol content that is higher than the legal limit. For that reason, blood alcohol content can only be considered in conjunction with other evidence that the bar patron was visibly intoxicated. Eyewitness testimony is more important than blood alcohol content, which is treated as circumstantial evidence. The dram shop rules stress visible evidence by a reasonable person that a person was already drunk when served alcohol. In New Jersey, it must be proven that the server or bar owner knew or noticed that the customer appeared to be drunk.

Dram shop laws are meant to protect you. Gather all your evidence, and bring it to Rosenbaum & Associates. A Philadelphia dram shop liability lawyer will let you know how to proceed in your claim against the establishment that served the driver who turned your life upside down. Contact us online, or give us a call at 1-800-753-4257.