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Social Host Liability in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

drunk man

In every state, there are laws that govern the responsibility of individuals who serve alcohol to persons who subsequently cause injury to others. When the server is a bar, tavern, restaurant or employee thereof, the legal basis for a lawsuit is generally referred to as dram shop liability. However, when the person serving the intoxicating beverages is a private individual, at a party, dinner or other private event, the term used to describe legal responsibility is “social host liability.”

Social Host Liability in Pennsylvania

Unlike many states, Pennsylvania has a fairly restricted application of social host liability. A private individual will only be legally responsible under a theory of social host liability in Pennsylvania if the person served was a minor. It has long been the rule in Pennsylvania that social hosts have no legal liability for the actions of adults to whom they have served beer, wine or liquor.

Social Host Liability in New Jersey

In New Jersey, social hosts may have liability for the wrongful acts of persons to whom they served alcoholic beverages. The New Jersey statute requires that the person to whom alcoholic beverages was served was “visibly intoxicated.” The law also restricts application to injuries caused by the negligent operation of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Judicial opinions in New Jersey have extended liability to situations where guest self-served, as well as to beverages brought by other guests.

Contact Fritz & Goldenberg

At the law firm of Fritz & Goldenberg, we have over 30 years of collective experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

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.