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Liquor Liability in South Florida – Be Careful When Drinking and Never Drink and Drive

photolibrary_rm_photo_of_man_drinking_beer_at_bar.jpgMiami is a city known for its popular nightlife and great weather. Residents and tourists alike enjoy late nights at many local bars and clubs in such popular hots spots like South Beach, Brickell, Coconut Grove and others.

As one could imagine, many of these people are out drinking. Now, there’s nothing wrong with drinking a few cold ones. However, there is something wrong when someone gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking one too many.

There are no shortage of stories in South Florida of someone getting seriously injured or even killed by a drunk driver. Sometimes these stories involve a drunk driver who was under the legal drinking age or an individual who visits a certain bar on a regularly basis and becomes intoxicated. Under these circumstances, the person or establishment that provided the alcohol to these individuals may be held legally responsible for any damage or injuries these individuals may cause.

According to Florida Statute § 768.125, one who sells or provides alcohol to an underage person or to one “habitually addicted” to the use of alcohol “may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.” A bar cannot be held liable if it sells multiple drinks to one person on one occasion. Ellis v. N.G.N. of Tampa, Inc., 586 So. 2d 1042 (Fla. 1991). However, it may be sufficient to find a bar liable if a plaintiff can prove that the bar served multiple drinks to an individual on various occasions. Id. This may be enough to establish that a bar knows someone is a habitual drunkard.

Apart from being responsible for damages or injury caused by a minor who was served alcohol, the parents of an underage child may sue a bar if their minor child was served alcohol. Accordingly, if a bar knowingly serves alcohol to a minor and that minor gets in a car and dies in an accident, the bar may be held liable for the child’s death. McCarthy v. Danny’s West, 421 So. 2d 756 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982).

At Alvarez & Barbara, we have considerable experience with liquor liability cases. Prior to representing the injured, we worked representing bars and taverns who were being sued for serving alcohol to minors and habitual drunkards. This puts us in a unique position to effectively represent the injured because we understand defense tactics. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunken individual, please contact us.