Social Host Liability For A Drunk Driver’s Actions
The holiday season often means going to many parties and celebrating with family, friends, or coworkers, often with alcohol involved. Sometimes after attending these holiday parties, some people choose to drive home, even while obviously intoxicated. If an intoxicated driver goes on to cause an automobile accident that results in injuries to another person or in property damage, the host of the party or gathering at which the driver became intoxicated may be held liable for the accident.
Florida Dram Shop Law
In Florida, a social host cannot be held liable for providing alcohol to a person in the same way a vendor or business may be held liable. Under Florida’s dram shop law, a vendor who sells or furnishes alcohol to a habitual drunk or a minor faces civil liability for any injuries or damages the habitual drunk or minor later causes as a result of being drunk. However, this law does not apply to your relative or boss who is hosting the annual Christmas party or any other social host.
However, depending on the circumstances of the social host’s provision of alcohol to another person, the social host may still be liable under common law if the person causes an accident. For example, an employer may later be found liable if the employer provides alcohol at a holiday party, which employees are required to attend and socialize by drinking with customers. If an employee at this party becomes drunk and causes an accident, the employer may be sued as causing the employee’s intoxication because the employee became drunk as part of his job duties.
Criminal Statute As Creating Civil Liability
For social hosts serving alcohol to minors, there is a Florida criminal law that prohibits a person who controls a residency from knowingly serving or allowing minors to consume alcohol or drugs on the premises. Under the law, a person who fails to take reasonable steps to ensure a minor does not consume or possess alcohol or drugs on the premises can also be found criminally liable. While this is a criminal law, Florida courts have found that the enactment of this criminal statute created a civil cause of action based on a theory of negligence. This means that because the social host in this circumstance can be held liable criminally, he or she may also be held liable civilly for a minor consuming alcohol or drugs on his or her property, or not taking reasonable steps to ensure the minor was not consuming alcohol or drugs. There is a religious exception to this law.
Therefore, although social hosts are not included in Florida’s dram shop law, or another statute providing for liability as a social host, an injured person may still be able to recover under common law.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Auto Accident Attorney
If you were injured or suffered property damage as a result of an accident with a drunk driver, you need an experienced automobile accident attorney handling your case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale automobile accident attorneys from Boone & Davis for a consultation today.