How Florida’s dram shop law can help car accident victims

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Getting hit by a drunk driver can change your life forever. Your injuries can rob you of your independence, comfort, ability to care for your children and potential future earnings. A drunk driver can also take away a beloved spouse, parent or child forever.

Florida’s personal injury laws state that a drunk driver is liable for any damages they cause others in a car accident. But they might not be the only party that victims can seek restitution from, under the state’s dram shop law.

A dram shop law holds bars, restaurants, nightclubs and other “social hosts” that sell or provide alcohol to visitors liable for injuries that one of those visitors causes while under the influence. To be liable, the host (or one of its employees) must have provided alcohol despite the person being obviously intoxicated, then allowed them to drive away. The idea is that the dram shop knowingly or negligently contributed to the drunk driving crash by overserving the driver. Florida’s version of the dram shop law is fairly restrictive in that it allows damages only when the overserved person is a minor or “habitually addicted” to alcohol.

Defendants sued under the dram shop law tend to be businesses like bars and restaurants that are better insured and are better equipped to compensate victims for major injuries like wrongful death and permanent disabilities compared with the driver who directly caused those injuries.

Bar overserved drunk driver who killed woman

Last year, a jury awarded $95 million in damages, plus attorneys fees, to the family of two children who were severely injured in a collision with a drunk driver in 2015. The crash killed the plaintiffs’ adult daughter, who was on her way to starting medical school, and profoundly disabled their son, who will need care for the rest of his life. After trial, the jury was convinced that the defendant, which owned a Miami bar called The Corner, negligently overserved the driver, who was drinking there with coworkers during a holiday party.

Proving that a business overserved the drunk driver who harmed you can be challenging. Working with an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney can help you receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.