Pennsylvania Social Host Liability Laws

June 7, 2019

DWI Accident 2Fatal Alcohol-Related Accidents Statistics

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), alcohol-related accidents take the lives of about 29 people every day in the United States. Their estimates suggest that a fatal alcohol-related collision occurs about every 50 minutes.

These disturbing statistics are enough to give anyone pause. If you’re hosting an alcohol-fueled party and one of the attendees gets in an accident, then could you be held responsible for providing the booze?

Read on to get the specifics of Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act that could impact your decision to host the next party.

What Are Social Host Liability Laws?

Several states across the nation have laws that hold social hosts legally liable for damages caused by an intoxicated patron or party goers. In Pennsylvania, bartenders or employees of a licensed establishment can be held responsible when they continue serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person. That’s why so many bars will tell patrons they’ve been “cut off” after one too many. This rule stems from the state’s Dram Shop Act.

Unlike establishments, social hosts can only be held liable when they’ve knowingly served alcohol to someone under the age of 21.

This means that Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop laws do not apply to social hosts who provide alcohol to competent adults. In the state, social host liability laws can’t be upheld even if the individual in question was visibly intoxicated when they were provided with more alcohol.

Lawsuits Surrounding Accidents and Social Host Laws

If a minor caused an accident after consuming alcohol, then it’s possible for the victim to seek a lawsuit against the social host. This means that the adult who served alcohol may be held fully liable for the damages associated with the crash in court. To be successful in a Pennsylvania court, the victim must prove that the host “knowingly furnished” the alcohol to a person under 21. If the social host was unaware of the person’s age or alcohol consumption, then pursuing damages may not be possible.

It’s critically important for social hosts to be aware of these laws and to prevent underage drinking at their parties. A failure to do so may result in civil lawsuits where the host is found responsible for the financial losses.

Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Social Host Liability Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a negligent social host in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Law Office of Mark A. Smith represent clients injured because of social host liability in Homestead, Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania. Call 412-567-1313 or email us to schedule a free consultation about your case.

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.




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