When a person consumes too much alcohol at a bar or restaurant, we usually hold that person responsible for any of the actions they perform while intoxicated. That makes sense, but there are cases where the establishment that over-served the patron can also be held accountable if the patron ends up hurting someone or causing property damage while intoxicated.
The drunk person is not absolved of all responsibility, but the establishment can share some of the blame if they continued to serve alcohol to someone who was clearly inebriated. The laws that determine an establishment’s responsibility for serving their customers too much alcohol are different for each state. If you live in Florida and want to know more about its laws, then you should read more legal guidance from LM & W.
Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop laws are called that because they are named after an 18th century term for an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. The term dram was a way of measuring alcohol back then. These laws are meant to curb the overconsumption of alcohol by patrons of establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. That means establishments like restaurants, casinos, and even stadiums can be held accountable for over-serving their customers. Dram shop laws are established on a state level rather than a federal level, which means that each state’s laws are unique, even though they may all have many things in common with each other.
Florida’s dram shop laws are different from those in many other states because they do not hold establishments responsible for just serving customers too much alcohol. Rather the Florida state statute states that an establishment is only liable if they over-serve a minor or if they over-serve someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol. It is relatively easy to identify if someone is a minor, but it can be trickier to determine if a person is an alcoholic or not. Additionally, the hosts of social gatherings are exempt from Florida dram shop laws, so they cannot be held accountable for any trouble caused by a drunk guest.
First and Third Party Dram Shop Cases
In Florida, there are two possible kinds of dram shop cases; first party cases and third party cases.
First Party Dram Shop Cases
This is when the person who was over-served by an establishment gets hurt because they were intoxicated and sues the establishment for over-serving them. Many states do not allow first party dram shop cases, but Florida does. However, this kind of case can be difficult to win since many people will believe that it is up to the individual to regulate their alcohol consumption. The exception is if the patron was a minor, in which case a jury may hold the establishment accountable.
Third Party Dram Shop Cases
These kinds of cases happen when an intoxicated person hurts someone or damages their property and the victim sues the establishment that served the intoxicated person too much alcohol. The victim will usually sue the intoxicated person as well, of course. Third party dram shop cases are far more common across the country since most states do not allow for first party dram shop cases.