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Dram Shop Liability


Those who are injured in accidents caused by a drunk driver can collect compensation from the at-fault party to cover past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. While many people are aware of this option, few know that the injured party may also be able to hold third parties responsible for some of their damages if they contributed to their intoxication. The most common example of this type of suit involves dram shop liability, in which a restaurant or bar can be held legally liable for damages if it is determined that they over served the drunk driver prior to the accident. However, Florida’s dram shop law is relatively limited in scope, making it especially important for those who have been injured in accidents with drunk drivers to speak with an experienced DUI accident attorney who can help determine whether they also have a claim against another third party.

The Limitations of Florida’s Dram Shop Law

Although Florida law does allow injured parties to file claims against third party establishments that served alcohol to an intoxicated driver who later caused an accident, it also comes with substantial limitations. For instance, under the state’s dram shop law, a person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages can’t be held liable for any subsequent injuries caused by the intoxicated individual unless:

  • Alcohol was sold to a minor; or
  • The sale was made to a person who was known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.

The first exception is a strict liability law, which means that as long as a bar served alcohol to someone under the age of 21 years old, and that individual later caused an accident, the bar can be held liable. Because this is a strict liability law, it doesn’t matter whether the bar owner or server knew or had reason to know that the person they were serving was underage.

The second exception deals more with foreseeability, as the server or bar owner must have had knowledge that a local customer had a drinking problem, but chose to serve him or her anyway before the bar or restaurant can be held liable. Florida law is also unique in that it allows drunk drivers who were injured in a crash that they caused to collect compensation from the bar or restaurant that served them. However, they are only able to recover if they fall under one of the two aforementioned categories, in which case, they could collect damages to cover some of their medical bills.

Contact a Florida DUI Accident Attorney Today

DUI-related accidents often result in devastating injuries, usually because they occur at high speeds and with little or no attempt to swerve out of the way or brake on the part of the intoxicated party. Resulting medical bills can quickly overwhelm a victim and his or her family, so if you were injured in this type of collision, please contact one of the dedicated Fort Lauderdale DUI accident attorneys at Boone & Davis by calling 954-566-9919 to learn more about filing a claim against the at-fault parties.



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