Fri 17th Dec | 2021

Can a restaurant, bar, or host be liable for serving too much alcohol?

Accidents Auto Accidents & News Pedestrian Accidents Personal Injury BY

It’s the time of year when many people attend parties and festivities that serve alcohol. But what happens when a person drinks too much and causes an injury to another? Can the restaurant, bar, or host of the party they attended be held liable for serving them too much alcohol? To answer this question, it is important to understand what dram shop laws are and how Florida regulates the service of alcohol.

About Florida Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws, or statutes, differ in every state but exist to hold drinking establishments responsible for wrongly serving certain patrons alcohol. Florida’s dram shop laws are more restrictive than those of many other states. They hold that anyone that knowingly sells or furnishes alcohol may be liable for injury or damage caused by or affecting a patron that is:

  • Not legally old enough to drink alcohol, or
  • Habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages

These restrictions make it difficult to hold vendors liable for serving alcohol to a person who later causes injury or damage to others or themselves. To find out whether or not Florida’s dram shop laws prevent you from recovering the compensation you are due, your particular case will need to be reviewed by an Florida injury lawyer experienced in this area of the law. 

Host Liability for Serving Alcohol

While the dram shop laws hold that restaurants and bars may be held responsible in some situations for the injuries that result from the actions of patrons they served alcohol to, they do not apply to hosts. A social host cannot be held liable for the actions of someone they served alcohol to drink. However, it’s important to note this does not mean that they cannot be charged criminally for serving alcohol to a person that is not of legal drinking age.

Examples of When a Drinking Establishment May Be Held Liable in Florida for an Accident or Injury

A Florida restaurant or bar may be held liable for the actions of an intoxicated patron. Below are some common scenarios our Florida personal injury team has seen:

  • The bartender at a restaurant serves alcohol to a twenty-year-old patron they are friends with and know personally
  • A patron at a bar is so intoxicated they are stumbling and slurring their speech, yet the bartender continues to serve them alcohol

An Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Fights Common Defenses of Restaurants & Bars

The most obvious defense used when an underage person has been served alcohol is ignorance of their age. In cases where the restaurant or bar holds they were not aware the patron was overly intoxicated, a common defense is that the patron drank the majority of the alcohol before entering the establishment.

Consult with an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a bar, restaurant, or host serving alcohol to an individual that should not have been served, you may be seeking ways to recover the compensation you deserve. There are situations in which the person or entity that served the alcohol can be held responsible. At Clark Fountain, our personal injury attorneys know the right questions to ask to determine who you can recover compensation from. We can be reached at 561-899-2100 or via our contact page.