FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-03-01
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it is a good time to remind Philadelphia drivers of the dangers associated with drunk driving ― in particular, the dangers of fatal drunk driving car accidents.
However, it is important to also note that the holiday revelers on St. Patrick’s Day do not hold a monopoly on drunk driving as this is generally a year-long problem. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes throughout 2010. This equates to a shocking rate of one death every 51 minutes.
Even more tragic is the fact that if intoxicated drivers simply designated a sober driver in the first place, most drunk driving deaths could easily be avoided.
Philadelphia drunk driving accident liability
Drunk drivers who cause car accidents are often criminally prosecuted after they thoughtlessly decide to get behind the wheel after drinking too much. However, those who are injured by drunk drivers may also be able to hold the drunk driver liable in civil court for the damages they suffer.
For instance, victims of drunk drivers can seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering ― basically any losses attributed to the drunk driving accident. Some Pennsylvania courts have also been known to award punitive damages to victims of drunk drivers, which are used as a way to further punish drunk drivers for their careless actions.
However, when a drunk driver injures someone after being over-served in a Pennsylvania bar or restaurant, the victim may also be able to hold the bar or restaurant liable for their damages in certain situations. In Pennsylvania, this type of liability is more commonly known as Dram Shop liability.
Pennsylvania Dram Shop law
Under Pennsylvania law, it is unlawful for any bar or restaurant ― or any of the bartenders or employees of such bar or restaurant ― to sell or give alcohol to anyone that is “visibly intoxicated” or is a minor.
And while Pennsylvania bars and restaurants are generally shielded from third-party liability if a bar patron injures someone after leaving the establishment, Pennsylvania law expressly states that this protection does not apply if the customer was served alcohol by the bar or its “agent, servant or employee when the said customer was visibly intoxicated.” This means that a bar can be held liable if a customer is over-served and subsequently leaves the bar and injures a third party.
The law in Pennsylvania regarding drunk driving accidents can be quite complex. Given that every situation is different, with different applicable laws, it is important to contact an experienced drunk driving accident attorney if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver.