Florida’s dram shop law, F.S. 768.125, allows victims of drunk drivers to seek redress from the bar, restaurant or other establishment that negligently served alcohol to that driver. The only way service of alcohol can be negligent in Florida is if it involves a minor under 21 or if the recipient was known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
But it’s worth pointing out that not all plaintiffs in these cases are entirely sympathetic. In fact, there have been successful DUI injury lawsuits in which the drunk driver was the one suing.
This is not to say the driver is not negligent. But comparative fault in a Florida injury case is not enough to prohibit litigation. That means a person could be partially – or even mostly – to blame for their own injuries and still recover a percentage of damages.
Florida allows up to 99 percent comparative fault, meaning a plaintiff could be 99 percent to blame for his or her injuries and still collect 1 percent in damages. Of course, your Boca Raton DUI injury lawyer will need to decide whether estimated damages are enough to warrant pursuit of such a case.
In the recent case of Bayless v. TTS Trio Corp., a restaurant faced litigation after a regular patron was killed in a drunk driving accident on his way home from the establishment after consuming numerous alcohol drinks. It was a single-car crash and no one but decedent was injured.
According to court records from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, decedent was a frequent patron of the local sushi restaurant. He was observed on several occasions to drink alcoholic beverages to excess, which resulted in him becoming loud and boisterous. Staffers had to sometimes instruct him to keep his voice down.
A bartender regularly engaged him in conversation and serve him alcohol until he was noticeably drunk. One time, when he came to the restaurant with his two daughters, one of the girls began to cry. When the bartender asked why she was upset, she said because her father was drunk. Despite this, the bartender continued to serve him.
On the day of the crash, the decedent was reportedly at the restaurant from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. Other witnesses who saw him during that time described him as impaired. His daughter called him four times and asked him to stop drinking. During one of these calls, he handed the phone to the bartender. The daughter told the bartender she was concerned and wanted her father to stop drinking and come home. The bartender reportedly tried to ease the girl’s fear, yet continued to serve him alcohol.
Witnesses said decedent at that time was loud, stumbling and unable to speak clearly. Bartender offered him some food, but he refused.
He called his daughter around 9 p.m. to tell her he was coming home. She could barely understand him because of his slurring. Just two minutes from his home, he crashed and died in the collision.
His daughters later sued the bar for negligent service of alcohol. Plaintiffs filed an affidavit pursuant to the dram shop act, stating it was based on information and belief gathered from witness statements, a police report and a medical toxicology report. Defendants moved to strike this affidavit, arguing it had to be based on personal knowledge.
Superior court denied defense motion and the Supreme Judicial Court Affirmed.
That means the case against the defendant bar/ restaurant may proceed to the trial phase.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Bayless v. TTS Trio Corp., April 28, 2016, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
More Blog Entries:
Mendoza v. WIS Int’l, Inc. – Seat Belt Defense in Car Accident Lawsuits, April 29, 2016, Boca Raton DUI Injury Lawsuit