Prevention of drunk driving doesn’t begin and end with the driver. More than 40 states have statutory provisions that give those injured or survivors of those killed in DUI accidents the right to pursue damage claims against licensed establishments (i.e., bars, restaurants, liquor stores) for serving alcohol to individuals who cause serious injury or death as a result of their intoxication. These are called dram shop laws.
However, there are varying strengths to these statutes. Florida, for instance, has a relatively weak dram shop law in F.S. 768.125. The law only allows liability claims in cases wherein the licensed establishment served to an individual was under the lawful drinking age of 21 and in cases where the establishment knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to alcohol. While it can be fairly easy to establish a case against a vendor that served alcohol to a minor, it can be tougher to prove staffers knew or should have known a person was an alcoholic and served them anyway. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pursuing.
Earlier this year, the parents of a former star high school football player who died at age 36 in a drunk driving accident in October filed a dram shop lawsuit against the bar their son went to often. According to the Tampa Bay Times, plaintiffs say their son was at the bar so often, employees there were aware he was an alcoholic, but served him anyway. Continue reading →