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Pennsylvania dram shop liability case settles for $6.6 million

Pennsylvania law allows for restaurants or bars that over-serve a patron to be held liable for injuries or deaths that result from that intoxicated patron's reckless behavior. This area of the law is known as dram shop liability. Property owners who host parties and over-serve guests can also be held liable if an intoxicated guest goes on to injure someone else.

These matters can become especially complicated if the intoxicated patron or guest is the one who suffers serious injuries as a result of being over-served alcohol. These issues arose in a recently settled lawsuit brought by a man who suffered permanent injuries after being over-served at two Pennsylvania bars.

In 2010 the man was involved in an accident that left him quadriplegic. According to court documents, the man was a player on a pub softball team, and during a game and later at a barbecue, he drank a few beers. After that, he and his teammates went to the sponsoring pub, and a bartender reportedly provided the man with free drinks.

The man apparently told the woman tending bar that he wanted seltzer water instead of alcohol, but the bartender told him he could keep imbibing. The bartender allegedly offered him a ride home once her shift had ended.

According to court documents, the man and the bartender then went to a second bar, where the man was served more drinks, despite being visibly intoxicated. Witnesses at the previous bar also testified that he seemed drunk.

At some point, he became unconscious and later woke up on a bench. He discovered his keys nearby, and he tried to drive home. The resulting crash fractured his neck, and he now requires constant care. The cost of his lifetime medical care was estimated at roughly $34 million.

To settle the lawsuit, the two bars where the man drank agreed to pay a total of $6.6 million. That amount certainly isn't enough to cover the cost of his future care, but the money is expected to help with other costs resulting from the accident.

Proving dram shop liability in any civil lawsuit requires experience in this particular area of law. To learn more about dram shop and social host liability, please visit our personal injury site.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Two bars settle for $6.6M in DUI case," Gina Passarella, Dec. 16, 2013

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