Under limited circumstances, Florida law allows those injured by drunk drivers to recover from the establishments who served alcohol to the impaired motorist. F.S. 768.125 allows recompense from bars, restaurants and other establishments when the drunk driver either:
- Was under the age of 21 OR
- Was known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
Other states allow compensation when a bar or restaurant serves to someone who was clearly intoxicated. That’s not the case in Florida, unfortunately. Still, our dram shop law can be a useful tool in some situations.
Recently, The Lakeland Ledger reports one such lawsuit has been filed by the brother of a man tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident. The at-fault driver was later identified as a 52-year-old man from Mulberry. He is now facing charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and tampering with physical evidence.
Investigators say the driver was drunk in November 2015 when he slammed into the back of a Honda motorcycle, driven by the 26-year-old victim at around 11:15 p.m. in the Winter Haven suburb.
The impact of the collision caused the motorcyclist to be thrown from his motorcycle and onto the road. According to the arrest report, the driver, who had been operating a white pickup truck, did not stop or try to help the younger man. He was later discovered by a passerby and transferred to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Deputies later traced debris from the scene to defendant’s home, where he was arrested several days later. Investigators questioning him said he remembered falling asleep behind the wheel and then walking part of the way home. He said he thought he might have hit a motorcycle and that when he saw the damage on his truck, he took it in for repairs. He is now facing criminal charges that could potentially lead to him being imprisoned for the next 35 years, if he receives the maximum. Trial is expected to get underway early next month.
But the plaintiff in this case, the brother of the 26-year-old who was killed, is now turning his attention to the two bars at which the defendant consumed alcohol prior to heading home that night. One is identified as XYZ Liquor Inc. and the other as American Legion in Mulberry. Plaintiff alleges the driver who reportedly killed his brother was an alcohol who drank copiously at both locations before leaving in his truck.
Plaintiff’s complaint asserts that because of defendant’s long-term use and abuse of alcohol, he was able to drink a large amount of alcohol without showing any signs or symptoms of impairment and that this alone could have indicated an addiction to servers.
Plaintiff’s attorney in this dram shop lawsuit alleges that not only was the drunk driver a frequent patron at both establishments, he also lived close to one of the bartenders. That bartender, named as a defendant in his own right, personally served the driver five drinks that night.
There is no specified amount of damages plaintiff has asked to recover, indicating only that he seeks compensation for medical expenses and funeral costs.
Dram shop claims can be difficult to prove in Florida, but they can be successful with the help of an experienced injury lawyer.
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.
Lawsuit blames XYZ bar, American Legion for 2015 death of Mulberry motorcyclist, Nov. 14, 2016, By John Chambliss, The Lakeland Ledger
More Blog Entries:
Deaths in Teen Driver Crashes Spike After Years on Decline, Nov. 8, 2016, Boca Raton DUI Accident Lawyer Blog