I recently read an article in which a Jacksonville man was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison for driving while intoxicated and crashing into a vehicle that killed a 12-year-old girl. The article did not indicate whether the man was at a bar or another business establishment that serves alcohol prior to the tragic accident, but the article inspired me to write this blog about Florida’s laws and the responsibilities of business establishments in Florida that serve alcohol.
As we all know, drunk driving is not only a major problem in Florida but also a major problem throughout the United States. Let’s assume the man in Jacksonville was served alcohol at a business establishment and, at the time of the collision, his blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit. Is the business establishment liable, negligent, or responsible for serving alcohol to someone who operated a motor vehicle, caused a collision, and either injured or killed another motorist or passenger after drinking at their bar or restaurant? In Florida, unfortunately, the answer is often, “no.” There is a statute in place that basically makes the business establishment immune from any liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication. There are exceptions but liability is always very difficult to establish. The aforementioned Florida statute (768.125) reads as follows:
“A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.”
Our law firm has handled cases where we were alleging negligence against a business establishment for serving alcohol to a minor or to someone habitually addicted to alcohol. As you can see from the statute, establishing liability against a business establishment is very difficult. Successfully proving liability against a business establishment who illegally serves a minor is much easier to prove, but there are always defenses to these claims, including whether the minor used a fake identification or not. However, successfully establishing liability on the theory that the establishment knowingly served a person habitually addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages is rare in Florida. That’s what makes these cases very challenging, requiring experienced attorneys to thoroughly investigate the facts behind these very unfortunate and oftentimes tragic accidents.
This is can be a very complicated and confusing area of the law. Our firm is experienced to handle cases against business establishments and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you, your loved ones, or friends have any questions regarding personal injury, do not hesitate to contact us to speak to an accident lawyer at (407) 841-7699. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices when it comes to personal injury