Dram Shop and Liquor Liability
In Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, holders of liquor licenses can be held liable for injuries caused to their patrons and to third persons injured by their patrons, when those patrons were served alcohol while exhibiting a sign or signs of visible intoxication, or minors.
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Dram Shop claims typically involve injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[e]very day, 32 people in the United States die, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 45 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.” (Source: Impaired Driver Fact Sheet, www.cdc.gov)
In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,347 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2008, about one out of every six (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Of the 216 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2008, about half (99) were riding in the vehicle with the with the alcohol-impaired driver. (Source: Impaired Driver Fact Sheet, www.cdc.gov)
“Visible intoxication” is not the same as “obvious intoxication” in that one must not overwhelmingly exhibit every possible sign of intoxication to be visibly intoxicated. Rather, visible intoxication is a state of intoxication accompanied by a perceptible act or series of acts which present signs of intoxication.
Signs of visible intoxication include, but are certainly not limited to the following behaviors: Loud speech; Bravado, boasting; Overly animated or entertaining; Boisterous; Overly friendly to other guests and employees; Drinking alone; Drinking too fast; Ordering doubles; Careless with money; Urging other people to have another drink; Annoying other guests and servers; Complaining about drink prices; Complaining about drink strength or preparation; Argumentative; Aggressive or belligerent; Obnoxious or mean; Making inappropriate comments about others; Crude behavior; Inappropriate sexual advances; Foul language; Making irrational statements; Depressed or sullen; Crying or moody; Radical changes in behavior; Speaking loudly, then quietly; Drowsy; Bloodshot, glassy eyes; Slurred speech; Difficulty remembering; Slow response to questions; Spilling drinks; Rambling conversation, loss of train of thought; Trouble making change; Difficulty handling money, picking up change; Lack of focus and eye contact; Difficulty lighting a cigarette; Lighting more than one cigarette at a time; Letting a cigarette burn without smoking; Clumsy, uncoordinated; Difficulty standing up; Unusual gait; Stumbling; Bumping into things; Swaying, staggering; Unable to sit straight in chair or on bar stool; Can’t find mouth with glass; Falling down; Mussed hair; Disheveled clothing; Falling asleep.
If you have been injured by an intoxicated driver you may also have a claim against the liquor licensee who got that driver intoxicated. Call now for a free consultation 888-947-4848.