Although the legal drinking age in the US is 21, many teenagers do drink. In some cases, teens ask older adults to buy alcohol for them or rely on fake ID in order to procure drinks. When teens become licensed to drive, underage drinking becomes even more of a problem. Each year, underage Florida drinkers cause some of Florida’s drunk driving accidents. These accidents lead to spinal cord injuries, fatalities, brain injuries, and other life-altering injuries.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident involving an underage drinker, there may be several people who are liable for the accident. The insurance company of the driver will generally cover part of your medical costs, lost income, and other expenses associated with your accident. However, in cases where an underage person has been granted access to alcohol and has then caused an accident because of drunk driving, other parties may be held liable as well.
Florida’s dram shop law, sometimes called the drunk driving law, allows victims who have been injured in a drunk driving accident to pursue legal action against the licensed companies who have knowingly served alcohol to a minor. Victims can pursue hotels, bars, restaurants – or anyone who serves alcohol to minors. If a bar or other licensed venue overlooks an obviously fake ID or fails to ID a young driver, that licensed venue may be held party liable if the patron then gets into an accident after leaving the establishment.
As well, parents of Florida teens who cause drunk driving accidents by serving alcohol to their teens may also be held partly liable. If parents serve alcohol to their teens, they may be held partly liable if their teens drive drunk. Even if parents keep alcohol in an open place and know their teens may be drinking, they may be held liable. As well, anyone hosting a party or event can be held partly liable if they serve alcohol to a minor who then causes a drunk driving accident after leaving the event.
The one exception to Florida’s drunk driving or dram shop law is liquor stores. Since liquor stores sell alcohol in closed containers, they do not face the same responsibilities and are not held by the same strict liability limitations as licensed establishments or party hosts. In most cases, although liquor stores are supposed to ask for ID and are supposed to refuse to sell alcohol to minors, they will not be held liable if a minor purchases alcohol and then causes a car accident after drinking that alcohol.
If you have sustained a serious injury in Florida that has been caused by a drunk teen driver, you need to hire a good Florida personal injury attorney. Unfortunately, in these cases, proving and establishing liability is challenging. Attorneys usually rely on video camera surveillance and bar transaction records to prove that a minor was served alcohol. Proving that a minor was served alcohol at a private party is even more challenging, which why attorneys often hire Florida private investigators to get to the bottom of these cases.