Is someone other than the drunk driver to blame for the crash?
Every driver’s education course will teach the students enrolled about the dangers of drinking and driving. Even if it has been years since someone attended such courses, there are public awareness campaigns that put out billboards, as well as ads on the radio and television. Drunk driving crashes are often a plot device used in popular media, so the reality of such collisions is inescapable.
Still, many people with substance abuse issues ignore how much risk comes from getting behind the wheel after drinking. They may tell themselves that they have enough practice to be safer than other drunk drivers or that they won’t cross paths with anyone else as they head home on some rural road.
Unfortunately, drunk drivers can and do cause collisions that lead to injuries and even deaths. Often, they may not have the personal resources necessary to fully compensate the people they hurt. Is there anyone other than a drunk driver that the people hurt in such a crash can hold accountable?
Businesses that serve alcohol have liability in some cases
For a bar or restaurant to legally serve alcohol to its patrons in Pennsylvania, the facility needs a liquor license. The state imposes very strict regulations on the service of alcohol, as alcohol can contribute to known social ills.
In a situation where a patron breaks the law and causes a drunk driving crash after consuming alcohol at a licensed business, the people affected by that crash may have grounds to bring a claim against the business in addition to or instead of the driver. The dram shop law is what creates the grounds for such civil claims against businesses that violate liquor laws.
When might you have a dram shop claim?
Pennsylvania’s dram shop law is broader than similar laws in many other states. Any business that serves alcohol to a minor will likely have some liability if that underage driver causes a crash later.
A more common scenario is that the wait staff at a restaurant or bar decides to continue serving someone who is obviously, visibly drunk because they want a good tip. The law requires that businesses stop serving anyone who is already clearly under the influence. If the person who caused the crash was at a licensed bar or restaurant before the wreck, you made be able to bring a claim against their insurance or a civil lawsuit against the business instead of the driver.
Learning more about what protects you after a drunk driving crash in Pennsylvania can help you get appropriate compensation, even if the driver doesn’t have many assets or car insurance.