After being injured in a drunk driving accident, it’s possible to sue an establishment that served the driver past the legal limit. Are bars liable for drunk drivers? We’ll explain how to sue a bar for negligence if applicable, and the steps you need to take up to contact an attorney.
Every year in the State of Florida, there are between 1200 to 1500 alcohol-related accidents. If you have been injured in an accident by a drunk driver, you may be wondering how you can seek compensation for your damages. In many states, the establishment that served the individual before the accident, and even the bartender who served them, can be held liable. Particularly if they continue to serve a person who is already intoxicated.
In the State of Florida, can you hold the establishment or the person who served the at-fault driver liable? The answer may surprise you.
What are Dram Shop Laws
You may have heard the term Dram Shop law before, but not be clear on the details. What are Dram Shop Laws? In the State of Florida, the Dram Shop Act, otherwise known as Florida Statute 768.125, outlines the parameters that determine the liability of an establishment or a vendor in the event that one of their patrons causes an accident while intoxicated.
Under this statute, a person who “willfully and unlawfully” serves alcohol to a guest who “is not of lawful drinking age,” or to a guest who is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages” can be held liable for any “injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person.”
Put simply, the statute declares that a premise or vendor that serves alcohol can only be held liable for damages caused by the intoxication of someone who was served at their establishment if they knowingly served someone under the age of 21, or if they knowingly provided alcohol to a habitual alcoholic for immediate consumption.
A bartender, bar owner, or establishment cannot be held liable for continuing to serve an already intoxicated individual only. This statute also protects social hosts from liability in a civil lawsuit, as they are not considered vendors.
Dram Shop laws tend to protect businesses and social hosts, often to the detriment of the individuals who are injured in a DUI accident. When asking are bars liable for drunk drivers, the more pressing question is do you have an attorney who will fight to make sure they are.
A Personal Connection
Our own Founding Partner, Tom Carey, had his life forever changed by a drunk driving accident in 1983. His wife, Joni Carey, was struck by a drunk driver on her way home from work only six months after they were married. She passed away a few days later in the hospital. They had been planning their lives together, and in one moment it was all taken from them.
This devastating event created a passion in Mr. Carey, and he decided to dedicate his career to representing victims of drunk driving accidents. He became the State Chairman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and advocated for those who were unable to speak for themselves.
Tom Carey has now represented thousands of DUI victims and considers it a great honor to be trusted with this responsibility. Given his personal experience, he is empathetic and compassionate in your time of need. Tom has been fighting to get the Dram Shop laws amended for years and helped push the open container law to pass in order to get one step closer to eradicating drunk driving.
Recent Case Law
In 2009, Andrew Hall was standing on the side of the road waiting for a ride, when an intoxicated driver swerved onto the sidewalk and struck him, severing his left leg. Andrew spent months in the hospital fighting for his life and had to undergo over 30 surgeries as part of his recovery.
Our very own founding partner Tom Carey took on the case and fought to have the Dram Shop Laws amended so that drunk driving victims like Andrew could seek compensation for their injuries. This case did not prompt the change of the Dram Shop Statute, but the cause remains close to Mr. Carey’s heart, as he lost his first wife to a drunk driving accident after only 6 months of marriage. It is a fight he will continue to fight.
What to do if Your Case Does Fall Under the Parameters of the Dram Shop Statute
Victims of a DUI accident have four years after their accident to bring a civil action. When bringing any civil action, the victim must establish four elements in their case:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
- Damages resulting from the accident
With alcohol-related accidents, it is important to hire a skilled attorney with years of practice relating to DUI accidents, as the statute lists the two highly specific conditions under which establishments can be sued. It can be very difficult to prove that the at-fault driver is a habitual alcoholic, and even more difficult to establish that the establishment knew or should have been aware of this fact when they served the individual.
If you have been injured in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, you should hire an attorney who has a firm grasp of the law presented in the Dram Shop statute and understands exactly how to sue a bar for negligence. In some cases, with a skilled legal team, the question of are bars liable for drunk drivers can be answered with a resounding yes.
What to do if You are Injured in a Car Accident Involving a Drunk Driver
If you are injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, it is important to call the authorities to the scene. In the event of a major accident, they will be able to call EMS services in order to make sure you and the other driver are safe, as this is extremely important.
If the accident is less severe, police will create a thorough report of the accident and will be able to perform a breathalyzer test or other tests to determine the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the at-fault driver. If found to be over the legal limit, which is 0.08 in the State of Florida, the police will charge the at-fault driver with Driving Under the Influence and arrest them. If this is the case, obtain all records from the police at the scene if possible.
Take as many pictures of the damage as possible, as thorough documentation is key. Be sure to take photos of your injuries as well. Seek treatment as soon as possible for your injuries. If you are unsure what type of treatment you need, hire a personal injury attorney who can provide a doctor referral for you.
Speak to Care Leisure & Carney About Your Accident Claims
If you are a victim of a DUI accident remain calm and collected and be sure to contact Carey Leisure Carney when you are ready to seek representation. At Carey Leisure Carney, our attorneys consider it a calling to help victims of drunk driving accidents. If you have been injured in a DUI accident, please contact us for a free consultation today. We would be honored to help in your time of need.