Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by David Harnold

Philadelphia, known for its revolution-era and colonial history, is a world heritage city. While the city is a great place to live and visit, you cannot overlook the occurrence of alcohol-related incidents, like drunk driving, in the city. They can be traumatic and cause severe damage to both parties. 

Therefore, understanding the role of Dram Shop Laws becomes very significant. They can help you secure compensation against the damages caused due to the negligence of alcohol-serving establishments in Philadelphia. You can also seek legal expertise from an expert like a Philadelphia car accident attorney to help with such cases.

The purpose and functions of Dram Shop Laws

Dram Shop Law holds businesses liable for selling and serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals and minors who cause damage to other individuals. First introduced during the temperance movements during the 18th century, Dram Shop Laws led to an alcohol ban in the US during the early 20th century.

Dram Shop Laws are state laws and may vary to certain degrees from one state to another. The Dram Shop Laws apply to businesses like bars, pubs, restaurants, taverns, liquor stores, and stadium vendors. The law provisions that-

  • The business selling and serving alcohol is responsible for damages caused due to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Victims, i.e., third parties, can file civil lawsuits against businesses liable for serving alcohol to intoxicated persons.

The plaintiff must prove the negligence of alcohol-containing establishments before the law.

Establishments such as pubs, bars, taverns, etc., are required to train their staff to look for the following signs to detect and prevent excessive alcohol consumption-

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Obnoxious behavior 
  • Bloodshot eyes

However, if a business serves excessive alcohol to a patron, which further leads to an accident, the company may be held liable as per the provisions of the Dram Shop Laws. It translates into a failure of duty to sell and serve alcohol responsibly. 

In such a case, the plaintiff has to prove the following in a court of law in order to secure compensation against the damages-

  • The licensee sold alcohol to the patron
  • The patron consumed alcohol, which resulted in intoxication
  • The patron caused the damage

However, the plaintiff has to file the claim within two years of the accident to comply with the statute of limitations.

Entitlement of damages in a dram shop claim

It is pertinent to mention that the Dram Shop Claims are regarded as civil claims and, therefore, do not inflict criminal penalties. However, by leveraging the protections offered by the Dram Shop Laws, an individual can secure compensation for the losses, such as

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property Damage

However, the court may rule punitive damages to punish recklessness, gross negligence, and intentional wrongdoings.