Florida’s Dram Shop Law and Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents
Unfortunately, some people decide to get behind the wheel in an impaired state after a night out at a bar or nightclub. Doing so is not only illegal but can also lead to a drunk driving accident.
In some cases, the drunk driver may not be the only at-fault party. If you were injured in a car crash caused by an impaired motorist, you might be able to sue the bar or another establishment or individual for overserving the driver.
What is Florida’s Dram Shop Law?
In many states, the dram shop law allows injured parties to recover damages from the bar or other alcohol-serving establishments for overserving a car driver who later caused the plaintiff’s injury.
However, Florida is not one of those states. Florida’s dram shop law is a little different. The Florida Statutes Section 768.125 provides that persons and entities can be held liable for resulting damages and injuries caused to third parties by:
- Underage individuals (under the age of 21, the lawful drinking age in Florida); or
- A person with a known drinking problem (habitual addiction to the use of alcohol).
Types of Dram Shop Liability Claims
Typically, dram shop liability cases are broken down into two types:
- First-party claims; and
- Third-party claims.
You can pursue a first-party claim when you were overserved at a bar and were injured as a result of your intoxication. However, many states do not allow first-party dram shop claims. Just because a person is allowed to pursue a first-party claim is no guarantee that they will win.
Third-party claims are more common because they are filed by third parties who were injured in a car crash by a drunk person. You may be able to file a third-party dram shop claim against an individual, a bar, or another alcohol-serving establishment if your case meets the requirements of the applicable statute. These requirements may vary from one state to another. Speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to review your particular situation.
Legal Requirements for Filing a Dram Shop Liability Claim in Florida
Since Florida’s dram shop law does not mention anything about serving alcohol to an already intoxicated person, it can be difficult to hold a bar responsible for your injuries caused by a drunk motorist.
Also, Florida law imposes additional legal requirements for bringing a third-party dram shop liability claim against a bar or another alcohol-serving establishment:
The establishment or social host acted “willfully” when serving alcohol to an underage individual who later caused an auto accident. You will be required to prove that the alcohol-serving establishment or social host knew that they served alcohol to a minor. For example, if the underage person showed a fake ID that looked legitimate, it may be difficult to establish the “willful” element.
The establishment acted “knowingly” when serving a habitually addicted individual. Bars or other alcohol-serving establishments can be held liable for injuries caused by drunk drivers when the injured party can prove that the establishment acted knowingly and was aware of the individual’s drinking problem.
Consult with our Lakeland drunk driving accident attorney at The Turnbull Firm if you were injured in a car accident caused by an impaired motorist. Our lawyer will review your unique case and help you establish fault. Call at 863-324-3500 to receive a consultation.