Dram Shop Laws (Florida Statute 768.125)
When a person gets injured or dies in an accident because of another person’s negligent act, it is only natural that they or their family would want everyone that contributed to the accident to take responsibility for their actions. This is especially true when it comes to drunk driving accidents. You most likely already know that you can hold a drunk driver responsible for damages incurred in a drunk driving accident. But, do you know that Florida’s dram shop law allows Floridians to hold even third parties, such as bars, accountable too, in the case of drunk driving accidents that result in injuries, death, or other damages? Nevertheless, according to the law, bars, casinos, and other establishments that sell or supply alcohol to patrons can only be held responsible under limited circumstances.
Drunk Drivers Are Primarily Responsible For Drunk Driving Accidents
Even though Florida allows people to file lawsuits against third parties if a drunk driver causes an accident that results in injuries, death, or other damages, the drunk driver that caused your accident or that of your loved one is generally primarily responsible for the accident. Therefore, even if your situation does not allow you to sue a third party, you can still sue the drunk driver for damages.
Drivers owe others a duty of care. Motorists are required to drive safely to avoid harming others. One of the ways a motorist can prevent their chances of harming others is by avoiding drunk driving. When a motorist chooses to operate their vehicle while intoxicated, they breach their duty of care. If the accident they cause directly results in serious injuries or other damages, it is only fair that they take responsibility for their negligent actions.
Florida’s Dram Shop Law
As already mentioned, Florida law imposes liability on bars, casinos, and other establishments that sell alcohol when the circumstances warrant such action.
According to Florida Statute 768.125, you cannot hold an individual that supplies or sells alcohol to another person liable for an injury or damage if the drunk driver in question is of lawful drinking age. However, according to the law, you can hold a person who knowingly sells or supplies alcohol to a person who is not lawfully allowed to drink liable for injuries or damages if the intoxicated minor causes an accident resulting in injuries or other damages. You can also sue an individual who sells or supplies alcohol liable for knowingly selling alcohol to an individual with alcohol addiction if the intoxicated individual causes an accident that results in injuries or other damages.
It is crucial to note that Florida courts have clarified that the dram shop law applies to individuals who sell or supply alcohol to minors or alcoholics for immediate consumption. This means that dram shop law generally applies to establishments like restaurants, casinos, and bars. The dram shop law does not apply to liquor stores and other stores that supply or sell alcohol for later consumption.
Additionally, Florida’s dram shop law doesn’t apply to social hosts who serve alcohol to their guests during private gatherings. Generally, a social host is not liable for any injuries or damages that result from a guest’s decision to drive while drunk. Even when a host knows that a guest is an alcoholic, they cannot be held liable if the intoxicated guest causes an accident that leads to injuries or other damages. However, the law does not take it lightly when a social host serves alcohol to a minor. Penalties for such an act include license suspension, fines, and possible jail term.
Damages You Can Recover in a Dram Shop Case
First, you need to note that, in a dram shop case, you must prove that the person who sold or supplied alcohol to a minor or an alcoholic did so, being fully aware that the person they were attending to was a minor or an alcohol-dependent adult.
A dram shop case is generally the same as a regular personal injury liability lawsuit. However, in a dram shop case, you sue the party that negligently provided alcohol to the minor or alcohol-dependent person that caused the accident in question and not the person who directly caused the accident because of drunk driving. Generally, in a dram shop case, people sue third parties for alcohol-related damages.
Some of the damages you can get in a dram shop case include;
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Damaged property
Contact a Fort Myers Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Legal Help
If you, a friend, or family member was injured in a drunk driving accident, and need help filing a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist and/or a third party, contact a Fort Myers drunk driving accident attorney at The Law Offices of Marc. L. Shapiro, P.A., at 239-649-8050 to schedule a consultation.