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Holding Others Responsible For A Drunk Driver’s Actions

When a person gets injured by a drunk driver, he may expect the driver or his insurance company to be the only parties responsible for paying related medical bills and other costs associated with the accident. However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may be additional parties that can be held liable for an accident involving an intoxicated driver, including the establishment or social host that served the driver the alcohol to the point of intoxication.

Most states have statutes or case law that hold an establishment or a social host responsible for over-serving alcohol a patron or guest who later injures another person or causes property damage in a car accident, for example. In some cases, the intoxicated person may sue for injuries he receives. These laws are referred to as dram shop laws when liability is to be imputed to an establishment or vendor. Generally, dram shop laws allow liability in situations where an establishment’s employees continue to serve a person alcohol even after there are signs that the person has had enough, and the person later causes injuries to another person.

Florida’s Take on Dram Shop Liability

Florida law differs from this general standard that looks to whether the person serving the alcohol could see the person was getting drunk and still continued to serve. Under Florida law, a person who sells alcohol to an adult who has reached lawful drinking age to the point of intoxication cannot later be held liable if the intoxicated person causes injury or damage. However, the law makes an exception to this protection for a person who knowingly serves alcohol to a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol of any kind, and for a person who serves alcohol to minors.

The language of the Florida law makes it difficult, although not impossible, for an injured person to get compensated by an establishment that over served a drunk driver unless the injured person can show the employees serving the person know he was a drunk. If the person served is a minor however, the injured person may have a more straightforward case against the establishment.

Applicability to Social Hosts

The Florida Supreme Court has interpreted the requirements of the Florida law discussed above as being applicable to businesses or vendors of alcohol, but not to social hosts who supplied alcohol to guests at an event or function.   Therefore, a person or company who throws a holiday party may not be held liable under the law cited above if a person gets intoxicated at the party and causes injury or damages later. However, there may be several other laws that an injured party may successfully rely on to find a social host who over serves alcohol to guests liable for the consequences of their actions.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered personal injuries or damages as a result of an accident with a drunk driver, you should consult an experienced Clearwater personal injury attorney to learn what options you may have for recovery. Contact the experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Roman & Roman, P.A. for a consultation.

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