It is an obvious fact that drinking and driving is a deadly combination and can result in a very preventable tragedy. Tragedies are only magnified when a drunk driver kills multiple people, such as when on New Year’s Eve, 2016, an alleged drunk driver killed five individuals when driving the wrong way down I-95 in Florida, or when two young children died and six others were hospitalized from an alleged drunk driver in October of 2016.
For those who survive a drunk driving accident, life is irrevocably altered but they must pick up the pieces and find a new normal without their loved ones or learn to live with their new injuries and physical limitations. When the driver’s insurance only covers a small portion of the damages or when the drunk driver ends up in jail and with no assets, where do the injured and aggrieved parties turn to in order to pay for the injuries and losses? If a mother or father of a household can no longer work, it is a legitimate question to ask as to how the family will survive financially. In many cases, it may be necessary to prove liability beyond the drunk driver themselves and look to the establishment that served the driver the alcohol.
Dram Shop Actions
Florida’s Dram Shop law is limited compared to other states and only covers two specific circumstances. In Florida, a bar or establishment that serves or sells alcohol may be liable for the damages or injuries caused when they do either of the following:
- Willingly and unlawfully sell or furnish an underage person alcoholic beverages; or
- When they knowingly serve alcohol to someone who is “habitually addicted” to the use of alcoholic beverages.
So, for example, if a minor is served alcohol at a bar and then harms someone in a car accident or even instigates a fight as a result of being drunk, the bar may be liable for the losses of any injured parties. Such losses may include all past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, compensation for wrongful death, and more.
Insurance Companies Will Fight
It should not be a surprise that the insurance company of a bar or another establishment will fight dram shop actions to avoid any liability whenever possible. If the drunk person was underage, it may be easier to prevail in a dram shop claim, since bars and other establishments should check the age of those who consume alcohol on the premises. But that is only a limited group of cases that try to rely on dram shop liability. In cases in which the drunk person was over the legal drinking age of 21, the injured party must show that the bar or establishment knowingly sold to someone who was known to be addicted to alcohol. This state of mind requirement may indeed be difficult to prove.
This is only one of many reasons why you need a skilled drunk driving accident attorney on your side. An experienced attorney can gather evidence to establish such state of mind and prove dram shop liability. These cases often involve significant investigation, including witness interviews, receipts and records, and more. While proving that an establishment is responsible for the actions of a drunk driver can be challenging, it does happen and it is necessary to find an attorney who understands how to help you obtain the full amount you deserve from all liable parties.
Contact Fort Lauderdale, Florida Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
The Law Office of Joseph J. LoRusso, PA in Fort Lauderdale has the experience and ability to handle complicated cases resulting from drunk driving accidents. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you need an attorney with experience in matters such as these. Contact us today for your free initial consultation- we can be reached by calling us directly at 954-715-3260 or by contacting us online.