Drunk drivers cause car accidents that kill thousands of people annually nationwide. Drunk driving accidents also cause serious injuries to others who end up needing expensive long term medical care. A person who gets injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, and whose injuries can be classified as serious injuries under Florida law, can usually sue the drunk driver to receive compensation for the injuries. But is it also possible to sue a bar, restaurant, or hotel for supplying the drunk driver with alcohol prior to the accident?
In some states, it is possible to sue a business that sold alcohol to a driver to the point of intoxication, especially knowing the person was going to be driving afterwards. These kinds of laws are generally known as dram shop laws, and are supposed to encourage businesses to cut off people before they get on the road while drunk.
In Florida, the dram shop liability law generally releases businesses from this kind of liability for drunk drivers except in two instances. A business can be held liable for the injuries caused by a drunk driver if: 1) the business served the driver alcohol while the driver was under the age of 21 years old; or, 2) if the business knows the person to be habitually addicted to alcohol, which means the person is an active alcoholic, and serves him alcohol to the point of intoxication.
Proving a business is liable under the second part of the dram shop liability law is more difficult than the first because the person seeking compensation has to show that the business knew that the drunk driver was habitually addicted to alcohol. In some cases, this evidence can be presented by showing that the drunk driver was a regular at a particular business that sells alcohol, and that the business knew he consumed too much alcohol on each occasion.
The law allows a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to a drunk driver to be held liable in the two situations discussed above. This means that in some cases, people or entities that are not ordinarily in the business of selling alcohol may also be held liable for the actions of a drunk driver. This could happen in the context of a social gathering or a company party during which the drunk driver is provided with alcohol before he gets into his car to drive home.
The ability to seek compensation from a business or another person for the actions of a drunk driver can be extremely helpful if the drunk driver is not insured and cannot be sued personally. Therefore, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after you are injured in a drunk driving accident.
Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered serious injuries from an accident with a drunk driver, you may be able to seek compensation from a business that was responsible for supplying the drunk driver with alcohol before the accident. For more information about a business’s liability for a drunk driver, contact our Vero Beach, Florida drunk driving accident lawyers at the law firm of Vocelle & Berg, LLP.