In many states, if you an injury in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, not only can you file an accident claim or personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party, but you may also seek damages from a third party – like a vendor or a social host – who provided alcohol to the driver. Filing a claim against a business establishment that provides alcohol is considered a “dram shop” claim.
According to Florida’s dram shop law, a person who knowingly provides alcohol to a person who is “habitually addicted” to alcohol (i.e., an alcoholic) or a minor under 21 years old can be held liable for any injuries the individual causes. When it comes to serving alcohol, the law only applies to beverages for immediate consumption, such as those served in bars and restaurants, rather than sealed in a bottle or can for later consumption, like a grocery or liquor store.
For example, a person who is a known alcoholic enters a bar and the bartender who knows about the person’s alcoholism decides to serve him/her anyway. After several drinks, the person leaves the bar, proceeds to drive, and then strikes another motorist. Not only can the victim file a claim against the alcohol-dependent individual, but also the establishment that served the at-fault driver.
While many states also have “social host liability” laws that hold a social host responsible for serving a minor or alcohol-dependent individual who later causes another person’s injury, Florida is not one of them. If an intoxicated individual harms someone else at a private gathering, the victim can only seek damages against the person who directly caused their injuries – not the social host.