A group of wrongful death plaintiffs received a favorable ruling in an opinion recently released by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in a DUI accident case. The court upheld a district court ruling allowing the plaintiffs’ lawsuit to proceed, rejecting the defendant’s arguments that the plaintiffs had submitted a non-compliant affidavit and that the case must be dismissed.
The plaintiffs in the case of Bayless v. TTS Corp. are the children of a man who died in an accident after he had been drinking at a bar located inside a restaurant operated by the defendant. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that the bartender and staff at the restaurant continued to serve the victim alcoholic beverages after he was extremely intoxicated and before he would be driving home. According to the appellate opinion, the man was served at least 12 alcoholic drinks while at the bar, and the employees of the defendant continued to serve him after he was clearly intoxicated. The man then left the bar to drive home, but he lost control of his vehicle and crashed about two miles from his house. He died at the scene as a result of multiple traumatic injuries.
Business Owners’ Liability for Over-Serving Alcoholic Drinks
Many states, including Massachusetts and Florida, have laws on the books that make it illegal for a restaurant, bar, or retail store to sell alcoholic beverages to someone who is obviously intoxicated. Additionally, there are civil penalties and a legal cause of action that can be filed against a business if they serve alcohol to an intoxicated patron who proceeds to get in a crash and hurt themselves or someone else. These civil laws are designed to encourage business owners and employees not to over-serve customers and put members of the public at risk.
These laws require special procedures to be followed in order to initiate a case, including the requirement of an affidavit that alleges the facts necessary to collect on the claim. In the Bayless case, the defendant argued that the plaintiffs’ affidavit did not conform to the rules and that the case should be dismissed, although both the district court and the state supreme court rejected that argument. As a result of these rulings, the plaintiffs may still receive compensation for the death of their father.
Holding Reckless Business Owners Accountable in Florida
Florida’s state code contains a provision that allows for a civil remedy against a business or employee who knowingly serves alcohol to another person who is a known alcoholic. The Florida law does not contain a provision for civil damages against a business owner who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron. However, such evidence could be used to demonstrate that the patron was habitually addicted to alcohol and trigger a civil claim. DUI accident victims should seek qualified legal counsel to determine any possible ways of seeking damages for their loss.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a Florida DUI accident, you may be entitled to damages from the drunk driver as well as a business that served or sold them the alcohol. The skilled Fort Lauderdale car crash attorneys at Cohn & Smith are experienced in trying all types of South Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases, and our dedicated attorneys can help you decide on a course of action to pursue relief. To schedule a free consultation, contact the South Florida law firm of Cohn & Smith at 954-431-8100. Our aggressive injury attorneys can fight for the compensation that you deserve. We have offices throughout South Florida and can assist you with your Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Davie, or other injury case.
Related Blog Posts:
State Court Addresses Constitutionality of Evidentiary Restrictions on Seat-Belt Use Evidence, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, April 25, 2016.
Florida Boating Accidents on the Rise, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, May 19, 2016.