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Who might be liable for a Pennsylvania drunk driving wreck?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drunk driving is one of the biggest safety concerns on Pennsylvania roads. Even those who consistently make smart choices about driving sober never know when they might cross paths with someone who is drunk at the wheel. Impaired drivers can cause preventable collisions that put people in the hospital or worse. Drunk drivers have longer reaction times, compromised decision-making ability and increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel when compared with sober motorists.

When a drunk driver causes a crash, the other people involved in the collision often have questions about their rights. Who typically covers the costs of a drunk driving crash in Pennsylvania?

The drunk driver

Someone who violates Pennsylvania’s impaired driving laws likely has financial liability for the crash that occurred. Most Pennsylvania drivers have car insurance. Sadly, many policies aren’t large enough to pay for the expenses when there are catastrophic injuries or deaths caused by a crash. Both personal injury lawsuits brought by someone hurt in a crash and wrongful death lawsuits filed when someone dies can be an option after a drunk driving collision in Pennsylvania.

A bar or restaurant

If someone who drove while drunk does not have enough insurance or money to cover someone’s expenses, the people affected may need to look elsewhere for compensation. Pennsylvania does have a dram shop law that creates liability for bars and restaurants licensed to serve alcohol to the public. If a bar serves a visibly drunk individual or a minor too young to legally drink, the business may have liability if that patron goes on to cause a crash after leaving the business.

A social host

The law in Pennsylvania sometimes makes an individual who hosted a party or social gathering liable for the actions of others present at that party. Social host liability typically only applies to scenarios involving underage alcohol consumption, not visibly drunk adults. Specifically, if a social host allows a minor to drink or is negligent about the storage of alcohol to the point where a minor consumes alcohol without them knowing, they may be liable for any crash that an underage visitor causes after consuming alcohol at their social event.

Given how expensive a crash can be, those affected by impaired driving sometimes need to consider every opportunity for compensation. Taking legal action against the right party can reduce the economic harm a drunk driving collision has the potential to cause.