Can you sue a bar after being injured by a drunk driver?


Javier A. Finlay

8/5/20222 min read

assorted bottle on table
assorted bottle on table

Can you sue a bar after being injured by a drunk driver?

Recovering from a serious car accident can take time, effort, and a lot of money. You might be forced to endure a significant amount of pain and suffering, too, which can be completely overwhelming. You might be left struggling to figure out how to provide for your family, secure the medical treatment that you need, and put your mind at ease.

Although you might be able to recover compensation from the negligent driver who caused the wreck, sometimes these individuals simply aren’t able to pay for the full extent of the damages that they have caused you. That’s why you need to consider against whom else you can file a claim.

Florida’s dram shop liability law

If your injuries were caused by someone else’s drunk driving, you might be able to hold the establishment who served alcoholic beverages to that driver liable under Florida’s dram shop law. However, Florida’s law is not as broad as many other state laws on this issue. Whereas many states allow you to seek compensation from an establishment if it served alcohol to a customer who was visibly intoxicated and that driver subsequently caused an accident, Florida only allows you to hold the establishment liable if you can show that it served an individual who it knew was addicted to alcohol.

This also means that you can’t sue an individual who served alcohol at a private function for the negligent driving of an intoxicated driver. This might seem unfair, especially if the person who caused the wreck continued to be served alcohol well after the point of intoxication, but that’s the state of the law.

Proving a dram shop case

As you can see, the restrictive nature of Florida’s dram shop law can make it difficult to succeed on a claim against an establishment. But it’s not impossible. You’re just going to have to put in a lot of work to try to show that the establishment either knew or should have known that the individual who caused the accident was habitually addicted to alcohol consumption.

You may be able to show this by obtaining records and surveillance footage from the establishment over a significant period of time, showing that the driver who caused your accident was a regular at the establishment and regularly drank to the point of intoxication at the establishment in question.

However, if your accident was caused by an intoxicated driver who is under the age of 21, you can prove your dram shop case simply by showing that the establishment served a minor. That’s a much easier hurdle to clear, which you again may be able to demonstrate through alcohol purchase receipts, recordings from the establishment and witness testimony.

Pursuing your dram shop case

Keep in mind that there are time limits on when you can bring a dram shop liability claim. That means that you can’t sit on the sidelines too long, otherwise you’ll miss your opportunity to potentially recover the compensation that you need and deserve.

With that said, we know navigating your claim can present a whole host of challenges. But that’s why law firms like ours are here to help. You’ve been cheated out of your normal life for far too long, and personal injury attorneys want to try to make that right.

So, if you want an aggressive advocate on your side who is willing to go toe-to-toe against those who have caused you harm, now is the time to reach out to learn more about how to prepare your personal injury case.