Personal Injury Law

Dram Shop Claims

Dram Shop Claims - Injured by an Intoxicated Person

If you have been injured by an intoxicated person, such as a drunk driver or drunk assailant, you may have a Dram Shop claim against the business that sold or provided alcohol to the drunk driver or assailant. Under Pennsylvania law makes bars, taverns, restaurants, nightclubs and other establishments liable if they sell alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person who then injures a person or property because of intoxication.

If you have been injured due to the actions of an intoxicated individual, please call or email the attorneys at Swartz Culleton PC. We can evaluate your claim and advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Swartz Culleton PC lawyers will see that all your legal rights are protected and all your legal remedies are successfully pursued. Drunk driving and public drunkenness continue to be a chronic scourge in Pennsylvania causing injury, harm, and misery to innocent bystanders and their loved ones. To get through this difficult time, it is important to have experienced and successful legal representation.

Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law

A Dram Shop is traditionally a business that serves alcoholic beverages by the “dram,” which is a British unit of measure. Originally, these laws were intended to change the behavior of the individual drinker, but have changed to protect the public from irresponsible parties selling alcohol to underage or seemingly intoxicated people. The Act makes bars, liquor stores, and other businesses responsible for harm resulting from serving alcohol to either visibly intoxicated persons or to minors. If the establishment knowingly sold alcohol to someone who shouldn’t be drinking, they can be held liable for damages resulting from the sale.

A dram shop violation may include any of the following acts of selling liquor:

  • To an obviously intoxicated customer
  • To a minor or underage person
  • Serving alcohol without a license
  • Serving alcohol after hours.

To establish a Dram Shop claim, you must prove the following:

  • A vendor or seller of alcohol (employees of a vendor are considered the vendor’s agent) served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person (a person whose drinking appears to have diminished their ability to think and act normally)
  • The intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury to a person or property.


It is enough to show that giving alcohol added to the intoxication in some way and that intoxication played a role in the harm. It is not necessary to show that the additional alcohol sold after the driver or assailant became visibly intoxicated alone caused the injury. In other words, the bar cannot defend the case by arguing that because the driver or assailant was already drunk before arriving at the bar, the eventual accident or assault would have still occurred even if the bar did not serve the drunk.

Contact the attorneys of Swartz Culleton, PC if you or a loved one is in need of representation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation in Philadelphia by giving us a call at 1-800-JUSTICE® today. If a bar, tavern or other business sells alcohol to a drunk who has caused you harm, we will hold it accountable.