At Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C., we carefully analyze every aspect of our clients’ drunk driving claims. We do this to ensure we can locate and pursue every possible source of financial compensation, which may include our client’s own insurance policy, the drunk driver’s policy, and even an establishment that served an obviously intoxicated person.
Our Philadelphia drunk driving accident attorneys understand that the recovery of maximum compensation is the way for justice to be served and for victims to rebuild their lives after the injuries and tragic losses drunk drivers can cause.
Arrested for drunk driving? You may only be partially liable. Contact our drunk driving lawyers in PA for a free consultation before it's too late!
Drunk driving accidents are an important focus of our firm. These cases can be exceedingly complex in terms of liability, or legal responsibility, for a victim’s injuries. Why? Well, most people immediately assume the blame should be placed on the shoulders of the drunk driver, but there is another factor to consider. If the driver was over-served at a restaurant, bar, or club, and then got behind the wheel, that establishment may hold partial liability. Known as the dram shop rule, this is a factor to consider in any drunk driving case.
Our team takes on drunk driving accident cases across Pennsylvania for:
- Victims who have been struck by drunk drivers, including occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists
- Passengers of drunk drivers
- Victims of accidents where the driver was overserved at a bar, restaurant, etc.
- Families of those who have lost their lives in drunk driving accidents
The Dangers of Drunk & Drugged Driving
Safely operating a motor vehicle of any kind requires mental and physical attention. Alcohol and drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter medications, impair these. Even when a person’s blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limit, his or her abilities may be impaired.
Alcohol and drugs can also cause drowsiness or over-confidence, which can affect driving. Even an excellent driver can make mistakes after a drink or two.
Social Host Liability in Philadelphia
The concept of “social host liability” applies to situations where a regular person – not a server at a restaurant or a bar owner – may be held legally responsible for injuries caused by a person to which they have served alcohol. For example, Joe hosts a holiday party and his friend, Frank, has a little too much to drink. Frank decides to drive home and causes an accident, injuring another person. In this scenario, Joe will be partially responsible if social host liability applies.
Social Host Liability in Neighboring States
- New York: The state of New York does have social host laws, which may place responsibility on a host for serving alcohol to an intoxicated minor. Under N.Y. GOB Law section 11-110, any individual who is injured as a result of the intoxication of a minor you provided alcohol to is allowed to file a lawsuit against you. New York’s social host statues do not cover private parties serving adults in their own home, although the state’s dram shop laws do hold commercial establishments liable for selling to intoxicated individuals.
- Connecticut: Under Connecticut state law, it is illegal for a social host to allow any individual under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol in their house, apartment or other private residence. In is also illegal to be aware that a minor is in possession of alcohol on private property, and to fail to intervene on their behalf—so if you know a minor has alcohol at a social event and do nothing, it is legally possible for you to be charged with a misdemeanor. In most instances, a first offense for this will be treated as an infraction, with subsequent fines resulting in jail time or fees.
- Maryland: Maryland is one of 18 states with general host liability. This means that social liability law applies to guests of all ages. Allowing the possession or consumption of alcohol can lead to a misdemeanor charge with fines up to $2,500 for first-time offenders. Parents and other individuals who allow underage guests to drink can face civil liability charges and criminal consequences. State law does not, however, permit guests to sue hosts for damages related to injuries sustained in an accident. So if you are an underage drinker who gets behind the wheel following a party, you are not allowed to sue the host of said party.
- New Jersey: Section 2A:15-5.5 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes allows individuals injured by an intoxicated individual to seek damages from a social host if: a) said individual was visibly intoxicated in the presence of the host, b) the host provided alcohol "under circumstances manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences," c) the host served alcohol under circumstances which created an “unreasonable risk,” or d) the intoxicated individual caused a motor vehicle accident after being served by the host.
- Ohio: Under Ohio state law, a person or individual serving alcohol to a minor under age 21 may be held liable if said minor injures or kills someone while under the influence.
- Delaware: While Delaware does prohibit the sale of alcohol to an intoxicated individual under state code section 2-706, state law does not permit injured individuals to pursue damages from a vendor or social host who provided alcohol to an intoxicated person or minor that caused injury to themselves or others. The state does, however, allow you to sue the intoxicated individual who caused your injury directly.
To find out more about drunk driving and your rights after an accident, contact our Philadelphia drunk driving accident lawyers at (215) 608-2183. We’re here to help.