In a drunk driving accident, many people believe that only the drunk driver is liable, but 37 states have laws on the books that place some of the liability on restaurants, bars or liquor stores. This is dram shop liability, which holds retailers responsible for serving patrons. The name comes from when liquor stores were once called dram shops.
In some cases, a social host may be liable for serving alcohol to someone who is later involved in an accident in which someone else suffers injury or death. In this case, the term is a social host law. It is unlawful to furnish alcohol to certain people, such as underage youth, an intoxicated person or even a habitual drunk.
Dram shop liability and social host laws are two important aspects of receiving compensation for injuries. However, these laws are complex and can be difficult to prove. It is not enough to show that the establishment served or sold alcohol to a person, but in Pennsylvania, evidence must show that the person was visibly intoxicated.
The retailer has to be the “proximate cause” of the intoxication. A liquor store which sells a bottle, or even 10, does not automatically assume responsibility for a future DUI. If the patron is already intoxicated when purchasing alcohol, that might be a different story. If the patron has a DUI and it can be shown that the person took a drink after purchasing the alcohol, the retailer might be liable.
If you suffered an injury in a DUI, it would be smart to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help assess liability in your situation for the best possible outcome for your claim. An advocate can take the stress off you and assist in finding the most compensation for your injuries and losses.