Was The Drunk Driver In Your Accident Illegally Served By A Bar or Restaurant?
I saw an interesting article on the insurancejournal.com website about a lawsuit that was recently filed in Wyoming by two women who had been injured in a crash involving a drunk driver. Unlike a typical car accident case where the claim or lawsuit is brought against the negligent driver, the ladies in the Wyoming case brought their claim against the bar that served the negligent drunk driver. According to allegations in the injured ladies’ legal Complaint, the negligent drunk driver was underage, and the people who were running the bar where the underage girl was provided the alcohol knew that she was underage.
In Florida, cases like this one in Wyoming fall under a category of claims called “dram shop” cases. Like most states, Florida law generally protects bars and restaurants from liability when one of their patrons leaves a bar or restaurant a little intoxicated and causes injuries to someone else. However, in Florida, there are exceptions. Florida Statute Section 768.125 make it unlawful for any person (or business) to sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to a person under 21, or to a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol, and makes the person (or business) liable for any damages caused by the underage drinker or alcoholic.
As a lawyer who has handled a number of dram shop cases over the years on behalf of injured people (and the families of those killed by drunk drivers), I can tell you that putting together a viable dram shop case against a bar or restaurant can be challenging. However, many times it is worth it when the drunk driver has limited or no insurance and there is no other avenue of recovery. This is particularly true when the damages are catastrophic, or result in a wrongful death claim for families member whose lives have been ruined by a drunk driver.
An argument can certainly be made that businesses who profit from providing alcohol to people who should not be in possession of it, and then allow them to get behind the wheel of a car, should be made to pay damages to those who have been injured by their greedy business practices.
If you have any questions regarding a crash involving a drunk driver in Florida, or if you believe that the person who hit you had been drinking at a local bar or restaurant shortly before your crash, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.