Alcohol-related accidents often happen after people drink too much at a bar or restaurant and decide to get behind the wheel. When the at-fault driver is intoxicated, it is reasonable to question whether the establishment that served the drunk driver could be held legally responsible for damages.
Florida is one of several states that has a dram shop law. These laws were established to give injured victims of drunk driving accidents the right to take legal action against a third party, such as a bar or restaurant, that provided the alcohol to the intoxicated person.
If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a drunk driver, we encourage you to reach out to our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. We have decades of experience holding negligent third parties liable for damages in car accidents.
Florida’s Dram Shop Law
Drunk drivers can cause serious, life-threatening injuries in an accident. The cost required to treat these injuries may require greater liability coverage than you can get from the at-fault party’s auto insurance.
Dram shop laws allow injured victims to pursue additional compensation from a restaurant or bar that overserved alcohol to someone who was later involved in an alcohol-related accident.
In accordance with Florida Statutes §768.125, anyone who sells alcohol to an underage individual could be held liable for any accidents or injuries that individual caused while in an intoxicated state. Furthermore, anyone who knowingly sells alcohol to an individual with a known drinking problem may be held legally responsible for any accidents or injuries caused by that individual in an intoxicated state.
However, unlike other states with dram shop laws, Florida does not hold establishments liable for serving alcohol to individuals who already appear intoxicated. State law only holds a bar or restaurant liable if alcohol is served to a known habitually addicted person or a minor.
Time Limits to Take Legal Action
If a bartender serves anyone under 21 years old or anyone who is a known alcoholic, the victim of the drunk driving accident could be eligible to a file a claim against the establishment.
The dram shop law is similar to personal injury liability law, except that instead of suing the party that injured you directly, you would sue a third party for alcohol-related damages.
Florida has set a four-year statute of limitations to take legal action. If you fail to file within four years from the date of the accident, the case will likely be dismissed by the court.
This is why you need an experienced lawyer on your side who is well-versed in the state’s dram shop law and can help you understand how to collect the compensation you need.
Damages Available in Alcohol-Related Accidents
Although the kind of damages accident victims may receive varies in each case, some of the most common include, but are not limited to:
- Compensation for medical bills, including emergency services, hospital stays, medications, surgery, diagnostic and imaging tests, physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Compensation for lost wages, including any wages and benefits you would have reasonably earned if not injured and future lost wages if you become disabled
- Compensation for destroyed property, including damaged vehicles and lost personal items
- Compensation for pain and suffering, including physical pain and mental suffering
The law also allows the drunk driver to seek damages from the bar or restaurant because they continued to serve them. Florida is one of a few states that allows the at-fault driver to pursue compensation for his or her injuries even though he or she caused the accident.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation at No Cost
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an alcohol-related accident, you may be able to hold a third party liable for any damages sustained. Reach out to Gordon & Partners to request a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.