Some people may not know that the term “dram” refers to a unit of measurement for alcohol that was used way back in the day. This may make it easier to understand why today’s current dram shop laws are actually state statutes that assume liability for establishments that sell alcoholic beverages for actions considered negligent with respect to any and all legally drunk customers. Almost every single state in the country has passed some sort of law to this effect, which puts bars, liquor stores, and even restaurants that serve alcohol on the hook for any illegal actions committed by someone who became intoxicated in their establishment.
This interpretation of the dram shop law was not always this way. In the past, those who sold alcohol were not deemed responsible for any of the patrons who became legally drunk under their roof. The responsibility was placed on the person who committed any illegal actions, not on the owners of the place that allowed that person to become intoxicated. For the most part, lawsuits were not even allowed to be filed if this was the case. However, as we have learned with the new laws that have been put into place, this is clearly not the way the system is run now.
Dram Shop Laws in Pennsylvania
When it comes to these dram shop laws, there are two different types of cases: “first person” dram shop cases and “third person” dram shop cases. Certain states do not allow first person dram shop cases to be brought to court, which makes third person cases more of the norm. However, for the sake of explaining the details, we will discuss both in order for you to be aware of the key differences between the two:
- Third person dram shop cases – The more common of the two, third person cases occur when an intoxicated person injures another because of their condition. For example, if someone is intoxicated at a restaurant and then hits a pedestrian with his car on their way home, that pedestrian would be able to file a lawsuit against the establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated motorist.
- First person dram shop cases – Not every state allows first person dram shop cases, and this is because they involve the intoxicated person getting themselves hurt and then suing the place he got drunk at. Many states believe it is up to the patron to drink in a responsible manner, which is why not all states allow these types of cases to even be filed. A minor may be allowed to bring this type of lawsuit because, by law, the establishment did something illegal by serving alcohol to a minor.
Talk to an Experienced Pittsburgh Dram Shop Lawyer Today If You Were Injured in a DUI Accident
Liability must be proven in a dram shop case. To do so, the alleged victim can base their claim on recklessness by the establishment, negligence, or intentional conduct. Some of these aspects can be harder to prove than others, which is why it is important to have a qualified attorney like Mark A. Smith walk you through your options. Call the Law Office of Mark A Smith to set up a free consultation today or fill out our online form.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.