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Philadelphia Dram Shop Lawyer

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 lawyer from Rosenbaum Injury Law who has expertise on filing a bar liability suit against the establishment.

Why Choose Rosenbaum Injury Law?

At Rosenbaum Injury Law, our personal injury attorneys specialize in personal injury claims. Since 1992, our Philadelphia bar liability attorneys have helped hold individuals accountable for the damages suffered.

Our law firm will investigate the claims and file all of the necessary paperwork to file the claim. The attorneys at our law firm operate on a contingency fee basis and only collect payments if a settlement is secured on our the client’s behalf.


Here’s what our clients have to say about working with us.

“Samantha is very professional and made my post accident experience that much more seamless. Being it was my first accident, I did not know what to expect, but Rosenbaum & Associates made the process easier. Samantha explained all of the documents I had to fill out along with assisting me with my car insurance aspects. She also referred me out to one of the best chiropractor in town! Rosenbaum is efficient and gets the process going, thank you!”

– Hang T. 

“At Rosenbaum and Associates, they really get the job done! No question ever went unanswered. They treated me like family. When I wanted to give up, they encouraged me to go on. I’d highly recommend this firm for anyone who wants good, positive and solid results. If I could, I’ll give them a hundred stars! I thank God for them!”

– Tiffany (Avvo Review)

Table of Contents

How A Dram Shop Lawyer Can Help

Pennsylvania Dram Shop Laws

Do Dram Shop Rules Rely on BAC?

Types of Monetary Damages Available

Contact Us Today

How a Philadelphia Dram Shop Lawyer Can Benefit Your Case

Hiring a dram shop attorney can be highly beneficial for your claim in the following ways:

  • Extensive Legal Knowledge: Dram shop laws can be complex. A lawyer specializing in this area of law has a deep understanding of the relevant statutes and regulations.
  • Investigation: Attorneys experienced in dram shop cases know how to conduct thorough investigations and have the resources to do so. They can gather evidence to establish a clear link between the establishment’s actions, the intoxication of the individual, and the resulting harm or injury.
  • Proving Liability: Demonstrating liability in a dram shop case requires showing that the establishment served alcohol to an already intoxicated person or a minor. A skilled attorney can help gather witness statements, surveillance footage, and other evidence to support your claim.
  • Navigating Legal Processes: Legal proceedings can be complex, involving paperwork, court filings, and deadlines. A dram shop attorney can guide you through the entire legal process, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken and deadlines are met.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Many businesses have liquor liability insurance to cover dram shop claims. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They understand the tactics insurers use and can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
  • Trial Representation: If a settlement cannot be reached, your dram shop attorney with trial experience will be prepared to represent you in court. 

    What Are Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Laws?

    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.

    The first statute, 47 P.S. § 4-493(1) (2024), states that: 

    “It shall be unlawful

    (1) Furnishing Liquor or Malt or Brewed Beverages to Certain Persons. For any licensee or the board, or any employee, servant or agent of such licensee or of the board, or any other person, to sell, furnish or give any liquor or malt or brewed beverages, or to permit any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any minor…”

    The second statute, 47 P.S. § 4-497 (2024) states that: 

    “No licensee shall be liable to third persons on account of damages inflicted upon them off of the licensed premises by customers of the licensee unless the customer who inflicts the damages was sold, furnished or given liquor or malt or brewed beverages by the said licensee or his agent, servant or employee when the said customer was visibly intoxicated.”

    Do Dram Shop Rules Rely On BAC To Establish Negligence?

    Dram shop rules do not rely on blood alcohol content (BAC) 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 attorney 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.

    Types of Damages Available in a Dram Shop Claim

    If your Pennsylvania dram shop claim is successful, you can seek damages from the responsible party. The damages awarded typically aim to reimburse you for various losses and injuries, such as:

    • Current and anticipated future medical, hospital, rehabilitation, and pharmacy expenses linked to your injuries, treatment, and recovery.
    • Lost wages and benefits, both past and future earnings for the time missed from work.
    • Costs incurred for replacement household and childcare services.
    • Expenses for repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property (e.g., vehicle, cell phone, personal belongings).
    • Compensation for pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
    • Compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.

    In cases involving extreme or egregious misconduct, punitive damages may be an option. Unlike the above compensatory damages, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future. 

    Contact A Philadelphia Dram Shop Lawyer Today

    Dram shop laws are meant to protect you. Gather all your evidence, and bring it to Rosenbaum & Associates. A Philadelphia dram shop 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 (215) 569-0200.