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Can Restaurants and Bars Be Sued for Injuries Related to Alcohol?

November 18, 2015 | Category: Auto, Blog, DUI

On January 1, 2014, a 22-year-old young man drove his vehicle into a canal after a night of drinking at a downtown bar. The young man drove over a deteriorating bulkhead at a ferry landing and plunged into the water at approximately 3:30 in the morning. He sustained severe and critical injuries and ultimately drowned. Now, reports that the parents of the young man have filed a lawsuit against the bar, the owner of the parking lot, Jersey City and two of its agencies. 

The young man was intoxicated and is one of many cases in which victims or their family members are seeking to pursue a claim against a bar that served alcohol to someone who was obviously drunk.  There are some circumstances under which cases against bars can be viable, but victims need to understand state law and determine if they have a claim. Randall Spivey and his team of Ft. Myers personal injury attorneys can provide assistance in assessing when a restaurant, bar or liquor store can be held legally responsible.

As reports, the parents of the young man who was killed claim that the employees of the bar continued to serve alcohol to their son, even though they should have been aware he was too drunk to keep drinking. The parents also alleged that it was both careless and negligent of bar staff to permit the young man to leave the bar and get into his vehicle while intoxicated.

The parents also claim the parking lot owner was careless and negligent for not maintaining a barrier at the water line to prevent vehicles from falling into the water, and that both the Department of Code Enforcement and the city building department were negligent and reckless for allowing the parking lot to be operated without such a barrier.

For the parents to be successful and prevail in their suit, they will need to show that the named defendants were unreasonably careless in breach of a legal obligation and show that the carelessness of the bar, parking lot owner, and city departments was the direct cause of the harm. 

It remains to be seen if the parents will be able to prevail. State laws will also make a big impact on whether the bar can be held accountable. Bars, restaurants and other facilities that serve alcoholic beverages are subject to dram shop laws, which exist in many jurisdictions throughout the country.

For example, Florida’s dram shop law is found at Florida Statute Section 768.125. The law stipulates that a bar or a person or business who furnishes alcoholic beverages could be held responsible for injuries under dram shop laws if the facility served someone with knowledge the individual was habitually addicted to alcohol or if the facility served someone who is underage.

Dram shop laws like Florida’s are usually used by victims injured or killed by drunk drivers rather than by the impaired driver's family.  Victims of drunk drivers may have a strong case to show why the bar should be held accountable. Personal injury attorneys in Ft. Myers can provide help with dram shop liability cases in order to assist victims in maximizing the chances of receiving full compensation after an impaired-driving crash. Call the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. today to discuss your case. 

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