It is a common scenario: An underage person gets into a bar in Philadelphia and drinks alcohol. He then gets behind the wheel and causes a DUI car accident. Does he have any legal recourse against the bar?
Most people believe that an underage person who goes to a bar, gets drunk and causes a DUI accident is solely at fault for having caused the accident, and therefore should not be able to sue the bar. This is incorrect.
In Pennsylvania, someone who is negligently served alcohol while in a bar, restaurant, etc., has the right to sue the establishment which negligently served alcohol. This principle of law applies even to the person who caused the DUI accident, whether they were underage or not.
Negligence in Serving Alcohol – Serving Someone Underage or Serving a Visibly Intoxicated Patron
Under Pennsylvania alcohol liability laws, there are types of conduct which may result in a bar or restaurant’s liability: 1. serving any amount of alcohol to an underage person and 2. serving alcohol to someone who was already visibly intoxicated.
However, in situations when an underage person gains entry into a bar, issues relating to how the individual got in will be important, such as whether a fake ID was used and whether the bar’s employees could have reasonably determined that the individual was underage.
For example, if an underage bar patron got in using an obviously fake ID, then there is a strong argument that the bar should not have allowed entry into the establishment.
In addition, bar and restaurant alcohol liability for DUI accidents in the state of Pennsylvania depends mostly on whether there is sufficient evidence that the bar patron was served alcohol when he was already visibly intoxicated. Therefore, facts such as what the individual drank and how much will be important.
Eyewitness testimony is usually critical in these kinds of cases. For instance, wait staff, bartenders and other bar customers will likely be important in being able to prove that the bar/restaurant served alcohol to someone who clearly should not have been served alcohol. Therefore, prompt and proper investigation is crucial in any bar/restaurant DUI accident case.
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