Dram Shop Laws Hold Bars Responsible For Over-Serving Patrons
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed due to the actions of a drunk driver, the effect on your life is devastating. Imagine how much worse it would be if you discover that the drunk driver should not have been allowed to drink at all. If you find yourself in this terrible situation, then you need to consult with an attorney who is familiar with dram shop laws. These laws exist to protect innocent victims from the horrifying results of a bar or restaurant (or cruise ship) staff’s irresponsibility in over-serving alcohol to customers. The attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have over 187 years of combined experience litigating serious personal injury cases. Contact us immediately for a free consultation.
What To Do If You Were Assaulted At A Bar, Restaurant or Hotel
If you’ve been assaulted at a bar by a drunk patron, you may be wondering the proper steps you need to take to preserve your rights and evidence of the assault.
- First, do not delay receiving medical attention. Make sure you are promptly seen by a healthcare provider.
- Contact the police and make sure to file a report on the incident.
- Preserve as much evidence as you can. Take photos or video of your injuries, get the names and contact information of witnesses, and inform the bar staff that you’ve been assaulted and they need to preserve any evidence and create a record of the incident.
- Do not speak to insurance agents or representatives of the bar.
- Contact the attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. for help as soon as possible.
What To Do If You Were Involved In A Car Accident With A Drunk Driver
If you’ve been in a car accident involving a suspected drunk driver, there are some important things to keep in mind. You need to take steps to preserve evidence of the circumstances of the accident, your injuries, and the other driver’s intoxication as soon as possible.
- First, if possible, get to a safe place off the roadway. If your vehicle is drivable, move it off the road to avoid a secondary accident. Get out of the car and try to maintain a safe distance from the accident vehicles. Any damage they sustained may cause further danger, such as the risk of fire or explosion.
- Call 911 to report the accident. This is especially important if you suspect an intoxicated driver because the police can investigate and determine the person’s level of intoxication. Also, be sure to clearly state to the responding officers that you suspect the other driver to be impaired.
- Gather information as soon as you can. Take pictures and/or video of the crash scene, the involved vehicles, and the other driver’s state of intoxication if you can. It’s also helpful to immediately write down everything you can remember about the circumstances leading up to the accident while the details are fresh in your mind. Try to get contact information for the other driver and any witnesses.
- Get proper medical attention as soon as possible.. You may have injuries that are not immediately obvious or visible, and proper and prompt medical care will preserve both your health and properly document your injuries.
- Contact the attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. as soon as possible for free legal consultation and help. A personal injury attorney knows what needs to be done after an accident to preserve evidence and build a case against any responsible parties.
What are “Dram Shop” Laws?
A dram shop is a historical term of art that refers to any business establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold. A dram is an old unit of measure for alcoholic drinks. For this reason, laws regarding the over-serving of patrons are called dram shop laws. Dram shop laws establish legal liability for bars, hotels, restaurants, liquor stores, and sometimes party or dinner hosts who continue serving alcohol to a person who is either visibly intoxicated, a known alcoholic, or a minor, who then causes an injury or death to a third party by causing a car crash or other accident.
Florida statute 768.125 states that a person who gives alcohol to a minor or to a person “habitually addicted” to alcohol “may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.” Dram shop laws in most states specify that a business is responsible for continuing to serve alcohol to a person who is clearly already intoxicated. Florida’s law, however, does not mention intoxicated patrons and instead specifies that it is a crime to serve a person who is known to be addicted to alcohol. Also, social hosts do not have liability in Florida, so if someone goes to a private party or dinner and gets drunk and then injures someone, the host cannot be sued under Florida’s Dram Shop statute, although there may be other viable theories of negligence.
First-Party Dram Shop Cases
A first-party dram shop case is one in which the person who was over-served gets hurt and sues the bar or restaurant to be compensated for their injury and medical expenses. Many states do not allow first-party dram shop cases, or only allow them when the over-served person was a minor. Florida does allow first-party dram shop cases. Similarly, the maritime law which applies to cruise ship injury cases also allows for such first party cases. These cases are often difficult because many jurors think a person is responsible for how much alcohol they drink. Nonetheless, we take the position that there comes a point in time when a person has been overserved alcohol that they cannot make a rational decision as to whether to have another drink. Once this invisible line is crossed, then the burden shifts to the bar or the cruise ship to cut that person off.
Third-Party Dram Shop Cases
The more common type of dram shop case is a third-party case. A third-party case happens when an over-served person leaves a bar or restaurant and subsequently injures a (different) third person. The most common scenario here is a drunk driving accident where an overserved bar patron gets into an accident with an innocent vehicle
Proving Liability In A Dram Shop Case
Dram shop cases are similar to any other type of personal injury case, except that in a third-party dram shop case you would be suing a bar or restaurant rather than the person who injured you directly (in most cases both the driver and the establishment are sued). As in any personal injury case, the injured party can win by proving negligence on the part of the defendant. Negligence means that the defendant behaved in an unreasonable manner.
In dram shop cases, the plaintiff may also win if they are able to prove recklessness or intentional conduct by the defendant. In this context, a server would be reckless if they chose to serve alcohol to a person already obviously drunk and disregard the risk of that person causing harm to others. In some states, laws require that a server knew that they were serving a minor, for example — and this would rise to intentional conduct.
In Florida, the dram shop law is limited to serving either a minor or a “habitually addicted” person. In the case of serving a minor, a business has a legal duty to check identification and refuse to sell alcohol to minors. In the case of an alcoholic, a business must not over-serve alcohol to someone they know to have a drinking problem. In either case, the intoxicated person is considered to be unable to make responsible decisions about their own drinking, and thus the bar or restaurant must not enable them to get drunk and go out and do harm to others or themselves.
Evidence can be difficult in dram shop cases, particularly in those involving a habitual drinker since it must be proven that the drinking establishment was aware that the customer had a drinking problem. In some cases, family members can provide written notice to area bars or restaurants that a person is a habitual drinker and should not be served. If you do have a history like this, however, it is powerful evidence. More likely, you will have to try to gather photographic or video evidence that the patron regularly drank to excess in that business establishment, or find witnesses who can attest to it.
Cases We Have Handled
The attorneys of Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are highly experienced and respected authorities in admiralty and maritime law, but that’s not all we do. In fact, our decades of cruise ship law experience and track record of thousands of successful cases help us to be even more effective in handling other types of personal injury cases. Our firm has handled multiple cases in which a cruise ship acted as a “floating dram shop” and recklessly over-served passengers, and we used this maritime experience to translate into numerous successful land based dram shop cases. Our successful dram shop cases include:
- Successfully won on behalf of a woman on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship was served excessive amounts of alcohol by a ship bartender, to the point that she became extremely intoxicated and later fell off the balcony of her cabin, suffering multiple severe injuries including bone fractures.
- Successfully won on behalf of a a man on a Royal Caribbean cruise returned from the ship’s bar intoxicated and subsequently fell to his death.
- Successfully won a confidential 7 figure settlement on behalf of a passenger in a motor vehicle who was badly injured due to the fault of an overserved bar patron.
Nationally Recognized Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by an over-served bar or restaurant patron, call the award-winning attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina, and Winkleman, P.A. at 877-233-1238 for a free, no-commitment consultation. Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. was named “Lawyer of the Year” in Admiralty and Maritime 2020 (Miami) by US News & World Report and has decades of experience in personal injury law, including four attorneys named “Best Lawyers” of 2024 by US News & World Report. Our dedicated and internationally recognized attorneys will fight hard for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.