DUI Accidents and Bar & Restaurant Liability


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DUI accidents kill people and if they don’t end in fatalities, they cause serious, life-changing injuries. While of course, the person who gets behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol will always be legally liable, others can be held liable as well.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, bars and restaurants which violate state alcohol service laws can be liable for serving a customer who then gets behind the wheel of a car and kills or seriously injures someone. For example, a bar, restaurant or club which continues to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated could be liable when that customer later drives a car and hits someone. The bar or restaurant could be sued by the person who was hit, or if the accident was fatal, by the family of the deceased.

A Drunk Driver’s Ability to Sue a Bar/Restaurant

There is another less common scenario which may result in a bar, restaurant or club’s liability. In a similar scenario, where the intoxicated, drunk customer leaves the bar and then later gets into an accident and kills himself or herself or suffers serious injuries, the bar may be liable to the customer/drunk driver.

In Pennsylvania, a driver who chooses to get behind the wheel and injures himself or herself could bring a lawsuit against a bar or restaurant for negligently serving alcohol. The key is continuing to serve alcohol to an already visibly intoxicated person.

People are often shocked to hear that a driver who injures himself or herself can bring such a claim. Taking a close look at Pennsylvania’s dram shop law provides an explanation. The basis of liability under Pennsylvania’s dram shop law is serving someone, anyone, who is already visibly intoxicated. People who serve alcohol have a duty to refrain from such conduct.

So, if a bartender or waiter continues to serve alcohol to someone who then gets into a car accident and seriously gets hurt or worse, kills themselves, the law allows that person (and his or her family in death cases) to bring a lawsuit. See Schuenemann v. Dreamz, LLC, a 2011 Pennsylvania Superior Court case (bar liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron who later killed herself in a single car accident; her estate sued the bar and won at trial; verdict upheld).

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Bar/Restaurant Alcohol Liability Law Firm

To submit your case for review by our bar and restaurant alcohol liability and accident lawyers, call Click To Call. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

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