Expert Tampa car accident attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo explain Florida Dram Shop Law
A person decides to go to a bar after work to get a few drinks and relax. That person ends up drinking more than a few, and then decides to drive home, causing a car accident on the way. In such a case, does the bar hold any responsibility for the drunk driver’s actions, or does the blame rest solely on the intoxicated person?
Most bar owners would argue that individuals are responsible for their own actions, but often there are circumstances where the bar (or even a social host) can be held partially responsible.
Dram Shop Laws
Currently, 42 states and Washington D.C. have adopted “dram shop” laws. The eight states that do not have them are: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.
Dram shop laws are defined by NOLO as “state statutes that impose liability on sellers of alcoholic beverages for the negligent acts of their intoxicated customers.” These laws allow for the injured victim of a drunk driving accident to take legal action against a third party, namely a bar or social host, that provided the alcohol to the intoxicated person.
The law draws its name from the 18th century when alcohol (particularly gin) was sold in units called “drams.”
Florida’s Dram Shop Law
Florida adopted its own dram shop law in 1980. Florida Statutes section 768.125 explains:
A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.
Unlike many states, Florida does not hold an establishment, vendor or social host responsible for serving alcohol to a person who already appears to be intoxicated. It only allows for liability if alcohol is served to a known “habitually addicted” person or a minor.
Another important note is that Florida’s dram law does not hold social hosts responsible for any injuries or damages as a result of serving alcohol to someone at a private party or event, even if the host is aware that the person is “habitually addicted.”
The social host can still face charges for giving alcohol to a minor under another Florida Statute. Usually the penalty involves having one’s driver’s license revoked for a period of time.
Time Limits and Compensation
If a DUI victim wants to file a claim against a bar or other establishment, he or she must do so within four years of the accident. After that period of time, the statute of limitations expires.
A person filing a dram shop claim (or civil claim) can seek compensation for several different reasons. These include:
- Medical bills for any and all injuries, including hospitalization, therapy, medication and rehabilitation
- Wages lost due to injury
- Replacement costs for damaged or destroyed property
- Pain and suffering
If you or someone you know has suffered a loss or injury due to a drunk driving accident in the Tampa area, contact an expert DUI accident attorney at Lorenzo & Lorenzo today. You deserve to understand all the details of Florida’s dram shop law and how you can collect the compensation you deserve.