Can you sue a bartender for a drunk driver's accident? | Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Sosa

Can you sue a bartender for a drunk driver’s accident?

You’re driving home on a Friday night. Out of nowhere, a speeding truck runs a red light and slams into you. You suffer a concussion and serious physical injuries—rendering you unable to work for months.

You hire an attorney and begin the process of filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver. As you examine the police report, you discover that the at-fault driver had actually been drinking at a local bar just before the accident. Is there an opportunity for two personal injury lawsuits—one against the driver and one against the bar?

Can the accident victim sue the bar?

The answer is, it depends. Under Florida law, a bar cannot be held liable for overserving their patrons, and they have no legal responsibility to ensure that drunk patrons find a safe way home. However, there are two exceptions to this rule:

If a bar serves alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21, they can face liability for any injury or damage resulting from that person’s intoxication. The same holds true of a bartender who serves alcohol to someone whom they know to be addicted to alcohol.

Can the negligent driver sue the bar?

It’s worth noting that a bar could face two lawsuits if they serve alcohol to someone meeting one of the two conditions listed above. If the minor or alcoholic is involved in a crash with another person, the accident victim can sue the driver and the bar. In addition, the drunk driver may also sue the bar.

For this reason, it is particularly important for bartenders to be cautious about which customers they choose to serve.

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