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I Was Seriously Injured by Someone Who Had Been Drinking but They Have Little or No Insurance.  What Can I Do?

If you have been injured by someone accused of drinking, we encourage you to contact a Jacksonville Dram Shop and House Party Attorney knowledgeable of the law and challenges surrounding these cases.

Dram Shop Laws – Bars, Taverns, and Restaurants

Florida Statute Section 768.125 deals with liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication.  This is more commonly referred to as Florida’s Dram Shop Law.  “Dram” comes from the 18th Century British way of measuring alcohol.  Florida’s Dram Shop Law states in part, “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person…”  There are two exceptions to this law but for reasons we will explore, it is very difficult to prove the exceptions existed.

Exceptions to Dram Shop Laws:

The first exception is if you can prove that the alcohol-serving establishment “willfully and unlawfully” sold or furnished alcoholic beverages to a person who was not of lawful drinking age.  However, bars attack this exception by claiming the underage drinker presented a fake ID.  Alternatively, they often say the alcohol was sold to someone of legal age who, in turn, provided it to the underage drinker.

The second exception to this law is if you can prove that the alcohol-serving establishment “knowingly” served a person “habitually addicted” to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.  Under this exception, the person serving the drinks must admit they knew the customer was a habitual addict.  The bartender accused of overserving their customer is not going to be helpful and admit this information.  In addition, most habitual addicts are good at masking their illness.

Open House Parties in Jacksonville

Florida Statute Section 856.015 defines and outlines penalties for Open House Parties.  The statute states that a person having control of any residence may not allow an open house party to take place at the residence if that person knowingly allows a minor to consume any alcoholic beverages or drugs and where the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverages or drugs.  Like the Dram Shop cases, proving a violation of this law is challenging.  The “person in control” may claim not to be the one hosting or controlling the residence in the first place.  Alternatively, the person in control may allege their lack of knowledge of the presence of minors in the residence.

Proving violations of Dram Shop and House Party statutes requires relentless investigation by your Jacksonville Attorney.  Since it is unlikely the bartender or house party organizer is going to admit they knew there were minors present or the person they were serving was a habitual addict, you will need to prove their knowledge through other customers or party-goers.  Identifying customers at a bar or people who attended a house party weeks or even months after the event can be challenging.  Once witnesses are identified, depending on the passage of time, these witnesses may not remember specific events at the bar or party.  The witnesses may also have a bias in favor of the bar or house party organizer that might color their testimony.

Dram Shop and Open House Party cases in Jacksonville are very challenging cases to successfully prosecute.  That is why we recommend contacting an attorney at Rosenberg & Calvin, P.A., to have them start right away collecting evidence and interviewing potential witnesses in order to preserve and develop your potential claim.

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