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Florida, like many states, holds businesses liable if they serve alcohol to underage customers who later cause harm to others such as in a drunk driving accident. Florida’s “dram shop” law also holds businesses liable for serving alcohol to customers who are known to be alcoholics who cause an accident after being served by the establishment.
It is important for businesses to have procedures in place that help them to comply with this law. Those who are harmed by an establishment’s dram shop violation may seek compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
To learn more about how dram shop liability works in Florida, and whether the law applies in your case, contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A., today. Our initial consultations are always free. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and surrounding areas in Florida.
In most cases, Florida law protects businesses from liability for injury or damage resulting from their customers’ intoxication. However, there is no protection for one who “sells or furnishes” alcoholic beverages to someone who is underage (not yet 21 years old). Similarly, protection does not extend to a business, bartender, waiter, waitress or establishment who “knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.”
This law would typically be applied in the case of a drunk driving accident caused by an underage driver if it could be shown that he or she had been drinking at a bar, restaurant or lounge or otherwise bought or was served alcohol prior to the accident. Anyone injured in the accident could seek compensation from the business owner and/or employee who served the underage customer.
Evidence that could establish that the underage driver had been sold alcohol prior to the wreck could include:
In today’s world, evidence could also include text messages in which an underage driver states their activities or whereabouts prior to a wreck or social media posts to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine or YouTube. The driver’s friends or associates may have made social media posts or sent texts that serve as evidence as well.
Proving that a person was “habitually addicted,” and that the server was aware of the fact, would be more difficult. Evidence that the person was known to have multiple DUI arrests and caused an accident after drinking at his or her regular watering hole as well as witness statements might establish that his or her habitual drinking was known by the server.
Third parties who contribute to a car accident caused by an underage drinker or problem drinker can be held liable for compensating those who have been injured.
The Frank M. Eidson law firm can investigate potential bar / restaurant liability for your drunk driving accident injury and seek just compensation. Contact us today to discuss your case.