When a person decides to get behind the wheel after drinking, they are acting negligently. Accordingly, a drunk driver should be held liable for their actions if they cause an accident that results in serious injuries. But what about other parties? Should a bar, restaurant, or liquor store share some of the blame for providing alcohol to an intoxicated person?
Dram shop liability
Most states have “dram shop” laws on their books. These laws allow injured people to seek damages from establishments that have served intoxicated persons who subsequently cause an accident. However, Florida law deviates from most states in this regard. For the most part, bars and other establishments that serve liquor are shielded from liability. That said, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule.
An establishment may be on the hook if they serve a person who is underage. An establishment may also share liability if they knowingly serve a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol, although proving this can be difficult.
It’s also worth noting that Florida splits from most states when it comes to social hosts and private parties. Many states allow injured people to sue people who serve intoxicated individuals in the privacy of their own homes. This is especially true if a person is underage. However, Florida does not hold social hosts liable for their guest’s actions, including underage individuals.
As you can see, the responsibility for most drunk driving accidents lies solely with the drunk driver. However, there may be other causes of action in limited circumstances. You should always discuss all available options with a skilled legal professional.