Drunk driving remains a serious public safety problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an average of 32 people nationwide die in DUI accidents on a daily basis. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reports that Florida has a DUI collision rate even higher than the national average.
Drunk driving is a criminal offense. The intoxicated driver bears liability. That being said, other parties—including those that sell or provide alcohol—could also be legally responsible. Insurance coverage mitigates the risk. Here, you will find a comprehensive account of what to know about dram shop laws and liquor liability and insurance in Florida.
Liquor liability coverage can apply to a wide range of common risks that are inherently linked to serving alcohol to patrons/customers. In Florida, a liquor liability policy obtained by a bar, restaurant, event space, store, or other business may cover:
As defined by the Legal Information Institute, a dram shop is a “commercial establishment that sells alcoholic beverages.” Dram shop regulations are legal statutes or common law rules that hold that such a commercial establishment can be held liable for certain accidents—and other incidents—that happen because an intoxicated customer/patron acts in a negligent, reckless, or criminal manner.
In other words, a dram shop law holds that a third-party business—such as a bar—can potentially be held civilly liable for damages caused by a drunk patron or customer. For example, if someone gets drunk at a bar, drives their car while intoxicated, and crashes into an innocent person, the bar may potentially be legally responsible for the damages through a dram shop law claim. Dram shop laws are not solely restricted to car crashes. A business may also bear liability for other negligent conduct by intoxicated patrons—such as a physical assault.
The majority of U.S. states have dram shop laws in place. The key thing to remember about these laws is that they make a commercial establishment that provides alcoholic beverages—bars, clubs, restaurants, event spaces, stores, wineries, breweries, etc.—potentially liable for harm caused by their client. In some cases, social hosts—non-commercial entities—can also be held liable for a dram shop claim.
Dram shop law claims are notoriously complex. These vary significantly from state to state. Some jurisdictions make it far easier than others for a dram shop (a commercial establishment that sells alcoholic beverages) to be held liable for the negligence of its customers or patrons. It is imperative that you look up the dram shop rules in your specific jurisdiction.
To learn more, schedule a free consultation with us today.
Florida’s dram shop laws are somewhat more narrow than the dram shop laws in many other states. In many jurisdictions, a commercial establishment that sells or provides alcohol can be legally liable if they serve a visibly intoxicated person and that person goes on to cause damage. That is not how the standard works in Florida. Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 768.125), any party who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages is actually presumed not to be legally liable for the conduct of patrons. However, there are two significant exceptions to Florida’s dram shop rule:
For example, imagine that a bar in Fort Lauderdale fails to check the identification of its customers. A 19-year-old is able to purchase and consume a large amount of alcohol. The underage person drives home and injures someone else in a pedestrian collision. Under Florida law, that bar can be held legally responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries through a dram shop law claim.
Mitigation of liquor liability risk is a term that refers to the strategies that businesses can develop and implement to reduce the chances that they will run into legal or financial problems. Here are some of the top liquor liability risk mitigation strategies:
Yes. The term “host liability insurance” is different than “liquor liability insurance.” However, both types of insurance coverage are broadly related to alcohol. As noted previously, a liquor liability policy is a specialized type of insurance coverage for companies that sell or otherwise furnish alcohol as part of the normal course of their business operations. This includes everything from a bar that makes 100% of its revenue on alcohol sales to a restaurant that makes 20% of its revenue on alcohol sales.
In contrast, host liability insurance is a form of alcohol-related insurance coverage for businesses that do not actually sell or provide alcohol in the ordinary course of their operations. As an example, imagine that a financial services company wants to have a holiday party. At the party, alcoholic beverages will be provided. This business needs host liability coverage. While it is not in the “liquor business,” it is only alcohol consumption on its premises at an event. Host liability insurance will protect it against the risks associated with someone underage or habitually addicted to alcohol causing harm after drinking at the party.
No—at least not typically. Every business in Florida needs the proper general liability insurance coverage. You should carefully read and review the terms of your general liability policy to determine what risks are and what risks are not covered. Notably, general liability policies offered by commercial insurance companies in Florida almost invariably exclude liquor liability coverage if the policyholder (business) sells or otherwise furnishes alcohol.
A business needs to obtain a specific liquor liability insurance policy. In some cases, that policy can be added on as an additional form of coverage from the same insurer that provided the general business liability policy. In other cases, a South Florida business may wish to get a stand-alone liquor liability insurance policy. Regardless, all companies that sell or otherwise furnish alcohol in Florida need the proper insurance coverage for their specific business operation.
November 16, 2023
Car crashes happen. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that ...
October 25, 2023
Once upon a time, there was a boy who thought he wanted to be a ...
We are proud to announce that BK Law is now in Tennessee! Leading the charge ...