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Dram Shop Liability – An Overview

Back of a barIn a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, researchers found that alcohol is a factor in about four out of every ten fatal accidents in the United States. Though the focus is often on the persons who drive while under the influence of alcohol, there are also laws, known as “dram shop” statutes, that can make bars, taverns, liquor stores and other establishments responsible when they serve people who subsequently cause accidents.

Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws originated in Victorian England, where the term “dram” was a measurement of alcohol sold. Dram shop laws have been widely applied, used against not only nightclubs and bars, but against sports venues, concert halls and other venues with a license to dispense alcohol. The dram shop laws were enacted to provide a disincentive for such establishments to serve alcohol to patrons who are either visibly drunk, or to serve alcohol in such quantities that would cause a person to become intoxicated.

Under the law, a bar, tavern, restaurant of similar place of business always has the right to refuse to serve alcohol to anyone. If the bar chooses, however, to sell or provide alcohol to a patron, reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the patron is not already intoxicated, or that the amount of alcohol consumed by the patron would not cause that person to become intoxicated. If it can be shown that the bar knew or should have known that the customer was drunk, or that the customer had imbibed to a degree that would cause intoxication, the bar can be financially responsible for any injuries that person causes.

Contact Fritz, Goldenberg & Bianculli

If you, a family member or friend have been injured by someone who was drunk, contact Fritz, Goldenberg & Bianculli.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at (215) 458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.