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Philadelphia Dram Shop Attorney

Philadelphia Dram Shop Attorney

Hurt in a Crash With a Drunk Driver? You May Have a Dram Shop Law Claim

At Quinn Injury Lawyers, our Philadelphia Dram shop law attorneys are skilled, aggressive, and experienced advocates for victims and families. With extensive experience taking on DUI crash claims, we hold all negligent parties accountable—from intoxicated drivers to the establishments that served them alcohol. If you or your loved one was harmed in a DUI crash and you have questions about dram shop laws, we can help. Contact us at our Philadelphia law office today for a free, confidential consultation with a dram shop law attorney. We handle dram shop liability cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

Intoxicated Driving is a Serious Problem

Unfortunately, drunk driving remains a very serious health and safety hazard. A significant share of deadly and otherwise catastrophic car crashes in our region are linked directly to intoxicated driving. A drunk driver has worse decision-making, has an impaired reaction time, and is far more prone to mistakes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly one in three fatal crashes in the United States are caused by drunk drivers. 

A Drunk Driver Can and Should Be Held Liable for a Crash

Drunk driving is illegal. An intoxicated driver should always be held accountable for what they did, including any harm that they caused to other people. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drunk drivers will face criminal charges. While a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor in both jurisdictions, a motorist can be charged with a felony offense if he or she caused a crash. Notably, a drunk driver—and their insurance company—can also be held liable for an injured victim’s damages through a civil claim. 

The Establishment that Served Alcohol May Also Bear the Blame

Under dram shop laws, establishments like bars and restaurants can be held liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons or minors who then cause a crash. The legal framework extends the responsibility for preventing alcohol-related harm beyond the individual, recognizing that those who profit from alcohol sales play a crucial role in safeguarding public safety. 

To be clear, these are not “either/or” claims. A personal injury claim or wrongful death claim after a DUI crash should always involve the at-fault (intoxicated) driver. An investigation may reveal that an alcohol-serving establishment bears liability for the crash as well. If so, it is imperative that the entity is also held liable through a dram shop law claim.

Understanding Dram Shop Laws: Your Legal Rights in Alcohol-Related Incidents

If you’re associated with a bar, restaurant, or any alcohol-selling establishment, understanding dram shop laws is crucial. However, even if you’re not directly involved, being aware of these laws, especially in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is essential.

Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws pertain to statutes that hold establishments responsible for injuries or damages caused by patrons who consume alcohol on their premises. Designed to regulate the sale and service of alcoholic beverages, these laws aim to assign some liability to establishments when patrons, due to intoxication, harm others.

Under dram shop laws, if a visibly intoxicated individual, served alcohol at an establishment, and caused harm, the injured party can pursue legal action against that establishment. This holds the establishment accountable for damages incurred.

The intent behind these laws is clear—to make establishments accountable for their actions. It emphasizes the responsibility of establishments to cease serving alcohol when patrons are visibly intoxicated. While this might conflict with the financial interests of an establishment, understanding the risks is paramount. If an intoxicated patron causes harm, the establishment can face not only monetary damages but also damage to its reputation.

The Bottom Line:  Dram shop laws are regulations in the United States that hold alcohol-serving establishments, like bars and restaurants, legally responsible for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause harm or damage as a result of their intoxication. In case you’re unfamiliar with these dram shop laws and have been involved in a drunk driving accident, knowing that you might have an additional source of compensation is crucial. Reach out to Quinn Injury Lawyers, and our lawyers will guide you through your legal rights.

An Overview of New Jersey’s Dram Shop Law

New Jersey, in accordance with N.J. Stat. § 2A:22A-5, allows individuals harmed due to the negligence of a licensed alcoholic beverage server to seek compensation for damages. This includes situations where:

  • The server is negligent in serving a visibly intoxicated person or a minor.
  • The injury or damage is a result of negligent alcohol service.
  • The injury or damage is a foreseeable consequence of negligent alcohol service.

If you are considering bringing a dram shop claim against an establishment in New Jersey, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney. Your lawyer will protect your rights.

An Overview of Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Law

Pennsylvania also enforces dram shop laws under Section 493(1) of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code. This prohibits establishments with liquor licenses from serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons, with potential penalties including fines, license suspension, or revocation. Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws are complicated. If you have any questions about your rights or your options, contact a Philadelphia dram shop attorney for a free, confidential consultation.

What to Know About Social Host Liability

Similar to Dram shop laws, both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have social host liability laws. These laws enable an injured person to seek damages from a host who supplied alcohol to an intoxicated person at an event, leading to an alcohol-related accident. This extends beyond commercial establishments, holding hosts liable for the actions of their guests.

To establish a successful claim, the injured person must prove:

  1. The person causing the injuries was visibly intoxicated in the host’s presence.
  2. The situation created a significant risk of harm to life or property.
  3. The injury resulted from a car crash caused by the intoxicated person served by the host.

Social host liability claims are especially complex. They are often brought in cases in which an adult—usually a homeowner—provided alcohol to an underage person(s). Though, there are other situations in which a social host may bear liability as well. For example, if a social host asked a clearly intoxicated person to drive to pick up more alcohol for the party, that is an example of gross negligence that could justify a social host liability claim.

Damages in Dram Shop Claims

Dram shop and social host liability claims are civil claims, not resulting in criminal penalties. Liability translates into monetary damages, compensating the injured person for losses such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, the commercial insurance companies that typically defend dram shop claims and/or social host liability claims are aggressive. They want to pay out as little as possible. Our Philadelphia DUI accident lawyers provide comprehensive, solutions-focused representation to help victims maximize their settlement or trial verdict. You may be eligible to recovery monetary compensation for the: 

  • Vehicle repairs; 
  • Ambulance costs; 
  • Emergency treatment; 
  • Hospital bills; 
  • Other health costs; 
  • Physical therapy; 
  • Lost wages; 
  • Loss of earnings; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Mental distress; 
  • Disability; 
  • Disfigurement;
  • Wrongful death; and
  • Punitive damages.

A Note On Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are financial compensation awarded in lawsuits as a punishment to the defendant for egregious or malicious wrongdoing and to deter similar actions in the future. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania permit those injured in these claims to seek punitive damages, aimed at punishing gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. These damages may be awarded in dram shop law claims.

You have Limited Time To Bring A Dram shop Claim (Statute of Limitations)

A DUI accident claim must be filed in a timely manner. A dram shop law or social host liability claim is no exception. If the lawsuit is not filed before the deadline expires, a victim could lose out on his or her rights to bring a claim at all. The statute of limitations for these claims is governed by state law. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including DUI accident claims. The deadline emphasizes the importance of timely action. Do not wait to get started with your claim: Consult with a Philadelphia Dram Shop lawyer right away. 

Why Rely On Philadelphia Dram Shop Attorney Sean Quinn

DUI accident claims are complicated—especially so if you are considering a dram shop claim and/or a social host liability claim. You cannot rely on any defendant or insurance company to look out for your best interests. Our founder and lead attorney Sean Quinn is a personal injury lawyer with the tenacity to get justice for you and your family. When you reach out to our Philadelphia office, you will a chance to consult with a Pennsylvania and New Jersey DUI accident attorney who can: 

  • Listen to what you have to say and answer questions about dram shop liability; 
  • Investigate the DUI accident and the surrounding circumstances, gathering evidence;
  • Handle any legal paperwork and/or settlement negotiations with counterparties; and
  • Develop a personalized, justice-focused strategy to maximize your financial support.  

Dram Shop claims: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws are regulations that hold alcohol-serving establishments—places like bars, restaurants, liquor stores, etc—liable for damages if they serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who then cause harm to others. These laws vary widely by state. The term “dram shop” is an older term that dates back to when alcohol was served by the dram (a small unit of measurement for liquid). 

Does Pennsylvania Have a Dram Shop Law?

Yes, Pennsylvania has a dram shop law. It allows for establishments to be held liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors who subsequently cause injury or damage. A DUI accident victim may have a dram shop law claim against an establishment in Pennsylvania. 

Does New Jersey Have a Dram Shop Law?

Yes. New Jersey also has a dram shop law. The law permits legal action against establishments that serve alcohol to either a visibly intoxicated person or a minor. Similar to in Pennsylvania, a DUI accident victim may have a claim against a negligent establishment in New Jersey. 

Is Social Host Liability the Same Thing as a Dram Shop?

No. Technically speaking, social host liability and dram shop laws are not the same. However, they are related. Social host liability holds individuals responsible for serving alcohol in non-commercial settings—like private parties—if their guests cause harm due to intoxication. However, social host liability is typically more limited. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, social hosts usually only bear liability if an underaged causes harm due to being served alcohol. 

Is an Establishment that Serves Liquor Always Liable for a Subsequent DUI Crash?

No. An establishment that serves liquor is not always liable for a subsequent DUI crash. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, liability typically depends on whether the establishment served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor, and if that service directly led to the DUI and resulting damages. These cases require a comprehensive investigation. 

Should I Agree to a Settlement in My Dram Shop Claim?

It depends. Many DUI accident claims are eventually settled outside of court. Indeed, litigation only happens in a relatively small share of cases. That being said, you should not agree to settle a claim for less than the full amount that you are entitled to under the law. A Philadelphia DUI accident attorney with experience handling dram shop law claims can review the crash, assess your case, and help you negotiate for the best possible settlement.  

We Handle Dram Shop Claims In Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Contingency 

Following a serious crash with an intoxicated driver, the last thing that you need on your plate is another bill that needs to be paid. You may be wondering: How much does it cost to hire a DUI accident lawyer in Philadelphia? With Quinn Injury lawyers, you never have to worry about upfront costs, hourly billing rates, or other out-of-pocket fees. Our firm represents victims and families in dram shop liability claims on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid when you get paid. Initial consultations with our Philadelphia Dram Shop attorney are free and confidential.

Contact A Philadelphia Dram Shop Lawyer Today

In drunk driving accidents, third parties, including bars and restaurants, can be held accountable for damages. Understanding dram shop laws is vital for both accident victims and establishments serving alcohol.
Quinn Injury Lawyers’s Philadelphia Dram Shop lawyers are here to guide you through these legal intricacies, ensuring your rights are protected. Schedule a free consultation by filling out the online form or calling (877) 659-6070. From our offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hills, we handle DUI accidents—including dram shop claims—throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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