The winter holidays are an especially dangerous time to be on the roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency reports that 29 people die each day in the U.S. due to alcohol-related vehicle crashes. During this time of year, many people are attending holiday parties where alcohol is served. As such, the risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident is higher.
The NHTSA reports that 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016 alone. Alcohol has many detrimental effects on driving ability including:
Drunk driving accidents can lead to injuries of varying types and severity, from cuts and scrapes to fatal injuries. Those who are injured in a drunk driving accident in Pennsylvania may be able to bring a car accident claim against the alcohol vendor or social host who provided the alcohol to the person who caused the accident.
According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, alcohol vendors may be liable for damages if they sold, furnished or gave alcohol to the person who caused the accident while he or she was “visibly intoxicated”. This requirement can be difficult to prove because people have varying tolerances and may not show signs of being intoxicated even when they have passed the legal limit for driving. Alcohol vendors may also be held liable if they violate the Pennsylvania Liquor Code or if they sell alcohol to someone under 21 years old.
In Pennsylvania, individuals who serve alcohol at private functions such as a dinner or birthday party (known as “social hosts”) can be held responsible for any injuries that are caused as a result of furnishing alcohol to a minors under the age of 21. This includes any harm a minor that has been served alcohol causes to themselves or to others. Unlike a bar or restaurant that has a liquor license, a social host who serves alcohol to an adult is generally not responsible for any injuries caused by that adult, even if it was readily apparent that he or she was intoxicated. However, regardless of their legal liability, at any party where alcohol is served, social hosts should always ensure that their guests have non-alcoholic beverage options and a way to get home safely.
Claimants in Pennsylvania have two years from the date of their injury to file a personal injury claim, according to the statute of limitations. Damages in dram shop and social host liability claims may include medical bills, lost wages, lost future wages, loss of household services, property damage and pain and suffering.
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to collect damages from the alcohol vendor or social host who furnished drinks to the drunk driver. A Philadelphia car accident lawyer at Galfand Berger LLP can help determine who should be held legally responsible for your injuries and ensure that your rights are protected. Our experienced attorneys represent clients in Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, Allentown, Harrisburg, and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at USWA (8792).