Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Wrongful Death Liability Law

In July a Bucks County man plead guilty to hitting and killing a cyclist while under the influence of heroin. The tragic case raises the question of who is responsible when someone is injured in an accident where drug use or alcohol is involved.

Tragedy in Bucks County

The Bucks County man pled guilty on three counts: DUI, homicide by vehicle and simple assault. He will receive the maximum sentence of five to ten years in prison for his crimes. The man was high on heroin at the time of the crash and hit four parked cars and one occupied car in addition to the cyclist.

Earlier that day, the same man caused a pile-up on I-95. Police had released him without bail under his own recognizance.

DUI Fatalities and Wrongful Death Claims

In addition to the emotional pain associated with loss of a loved one, the families of individuals killed by drunk drivers are often faced with the financial hurdles created by the loss of household income. Fortunately, there is legal recourse for the families of individuals lost to drug and alcohol-related crashes. Children or spouses of those killed in crashes may be able to file a
wrongful death claim against a driver whose negligence caused the accident.

A successful wrongful death lawsuit must include proof of negligence or intent to harm, survivors who are able to collect damages and the presence of someone managing the deceased’s estate. Who is eligible to collect varies across jurisdiction, making it extremely important than anyone considering this type of claim, contact an experienced attorney.

Timing is also important for wrongful death claims. The statutes of limitations for filing these types of claims are also different across the state. Survivors are encouraged to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Can Bars Be Held Responsible for Wrongful Deaths?

In Pennsylvania,
dram shops, or stores that sell and serve liquor, can be held responsible for the wrongful death or injury of a third party in some instances. It is illegal for dram shops to serve alcohol to individuals who are “visibly intoxicated.” If a dram shop serves an obviously intoxicated patron who then injures or kills someone else, the shop can be held responsible for that third party’s injuries in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Losing a loved one to an accident caused by an intoxicated driver is tragic. Fortunately, there are
legal options for families to recover damages caused by these accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured by an intoxicated driver, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney.