It is common for a car accident victim’s own insurance company to cover their damages in Florida. The at-fault driver may also be held accountable. However, if you were involved in a drunk driving accident where the other party was intoxicated, you may have other options for relief. In fact, under Florida dram shop law, the establishment or person who allowed the drunk driver to get intoxicated may also be liable.
To learn more about your specific case, contact a Fort Lauderdale dram shop lawyer at David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.C. Our drunk driving crash attorneys can answer your questions and help you get the compensation you need.
What Is Fort Lauderdale Dram Shop Law?
Dram shop law is an area of personal injury law. It indicates that a person or business — the “dram shop” — could be considered liable if they provide excessive alcohol to someone. That person causes another person harm because they were intoxicated. However, there are many intricate details to the law that a dram shop attorney can help you understand.
According to Florida dram shop law (Florida Statutes Section 768.125), a person who provides alcohol to an underage individual may be liable for injuries or damages they cause due to intoxication. Additionally, that person may be liable if they knowingly provide alcohol to someone habitually addicted to alcohol. Thus, the law does not apply in every case – only those with specific facts.
Who Can Be Held Liable in Fort Lauderdale?
A “dram shop” is a commercial establishment that may be liable for the harmful acts of an intoxicated customer. However, under Florida liquor laws, other people may also be held responsible for “social guests,” such as people attending a home party.
Can a Bar Be Held Responsible?
Yes. Florida’s dram shop liability law includes bars, bartenders, restaurants, and other similar establishments that serve liquor to customers.
Homeowner Liability for a Drunk Driving Accident
A homeowner may be liable for a “social guest” who visited their home and was served alcohol in excess. However, the plaintiff must prove that the homeowner was negligent. Negligence requires proof of a duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages. Suppose a homeowner violated the Florida liquor law by providing alcohol to an underage individual or alcoholic. In that case, they may be found negligent if the other elements also apply. A knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale attorney could help with this aspect of dram shop law.
Legal Options After a Drunk Driving Accident
You have multiple options for recovery after a drunk driving accident. You may be able to get compensation from your own insurance company as well as the insurance company of the at-fault driver. The drunk driver, who will likely get a DUI citation, can also be personally liable. You may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
If the drunk person who hit you was served by someone else, you may also be able to file a dram shop lawsuit and recover from the third party. Some commercial establishments may have dram shop insurance to cover bar and server liability. This insurance will likely offer a much higher policy limit than typical car insurance, allowing you to get more compensation overall.
Dram Shop Insurance Coverage
Many establishments that serve alcohol have dram shop insurance coverage. This insurance may cover several hundred thousand or millions of dollars in damages. This is a higher payout than typical passenger car insurance, which usually covers less than $100,000 per accident.
Your attorney will want to determine if the bar or restaurant that served the drunk individual had dram shop insurance coverage and file a claim.
Time Limits & Compensation in Dram Shop Cases
If a drunk driver injures you, you have a limited amount of time within which you must file a dram shop claim against the establishment that overserved them. That deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is four years in most cases. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that amount of time, then you may forfeit your ability to get compensation.
After a drunk driving crash, you can get compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
You may also be able to get punitive damages meant to punish the wrongdoers for particularly offensive actions. A detail-oriented attorney in Fort Lauderdale could help determine whether a dram shop case warrants punitive damages.
Possible Dram Shop Challenges
When dealing with a dram shop lawsuit, there are many challenges. You must be able to prove all elements of negligence, including that the establishment or individual owed you a duty, breached that duty, caused your accident and injuries, and you have damages.
You must also be able to communicate and negotiate with all the parties and insurance companies involved in the claim. This can be challenging because in most cases, they are trying to limit their own liability and reduce how much they have to pay to you.
Take Your Case to a Fort Lauderdale Dram Shop Attorney
If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident, you should immediately reach out to a dram shop attorney who can help with your case. You may have many options for recovering the money you need to cover your expenses. You may be able to get more than an average car accident claim.
Attorney David I. Fuchs understands liquor liability and how to help you get the maximum amount of compensation possible. Use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with a Fort Lauderdale dram shop lawyer today.