By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you go to a bar, drink enough alcohol to tranquilize a baby elephant, then fall down and hurt yourself, who’s responsible?
Four years ago, a 40-year-old West Chester, Pennsylvania man went into a bar, was served 20 drinks, then fell down a flight of stairs severely injuring himself. When he arrived at the hospital, his blood alcohol content was .37, more than four times the limit at which he’d be considered legally impaired. Last month, he settled the lawsuit HE filed against the bar for more than $50,000.
You thought the guy walking into the bar was the joke, but it seems like the guy leaving the courthouse is the joke. Why does the bar have to pay an adult who ordered the drinks for the harm he caused himself?
Bars make a lot of money by selling alcohol. If there were no penalties, monetary concern on the part of the establishment that makes money off the alcohol would almost certainly override any concern the tavern owner might have, and they’d have no incentive to stop someone from drinking to excess, getting into their cars and driving away.
So, as a matter of public policy, there are what are known as “dram shop” laws that put certain responsibilities on establishments that serve alcohol, giving them a duty to stop serving someone who is visibly intoxicated and take steps to prevent someone from leaving the bar drunk.
And, no matter who faces legal liability, if you’re with a friend who has tied on one too many, it’s no joke – call a cab.