A: This very important question requires analysis by a qualified personal injury lawyer. Each case is unique and the facts of a given case will determine whether there is a case.
In general, adults who serve alcohol to other adults over the age of 21 will not be held liable if an intoxicated guest later causes an accident as a result of being drunk. However, adults who serve minors are subject to such liability.
In Congini v. Portersville Valve Co, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court established social host liability for an adult who "knowingly served" a minor. In subsequent cases, Pennsylvania courts have refused to extend this principle to include liability of adults who did not actually know whether alcohol was being served to minors.
Factors which are important in determining whether an adult knowingly served alcohol to a minor include whether the adult was involved in the planning of the party, the serving, supplying or the purchasing of the alcohol.
Minors who serve alcohol to other minors at a party are also not subject to liability if an intoxicated minor/guest later gets into an accident as a result of being drunk. However, a recent October, 2011 Erie County court case held that a minor who provides illegal drugs to another minor may be liable in this type of situation.
In Boyd v. Miller, the minor plaintiff was a passenger in a car driven by an intoxicated minor. Plaintiff and the intoxicated driver had been at a party held by another minor, Lobenthal, who supplied illegal drugs to her the guests, including marijuana. The court found that the majority of the prior cases dealt with alcohol and since the claim was that Lobenthal had supplied illegal drugs to her guests, the plaintiff's case was allowed to proceed.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an alcohol related accident in the PA or NJ area, and you think you have a case against a social host or a bar or restaurant, call our injury lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation. Our injury lawyers will provide answers to your questions and advice on how to proceed. 877.944.8396
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case.