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I hope everyone reading this had a glorious holiday filled with love, caring and sharing. This is truly the season for creating memories. Unfortunately, it is also the season that sees many families torn apart.

As a Personal Injury Attorney, I see it every year and to be honest, it tends to dampen my holiday spirits. Years of experience have taught me, that come January, my office is going to be very busy with people who lives has been irrevocably changed, for the worse, at a time which should have been filled with joy.

According to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 31 percent of all fatal automobile crashes and 28 percent of all vehicular accidents involving serious bodily injuries are alcohol related. These numbers are based on full year statistics. What is really scary and sad is that in the holiday season, from Thanksgiving Eve till New Year’s Day, these numbers are almost doubled. That equates to a DUI related death, on American highways, approximately every 10 minutes, and in addition to this, a life changing injury every 12 minutes, with young adults, ages 21 to 24 years old, accounting for a vast majority of the cases, during this time of celebration.

DUI Civil Liability Laws

As sad as this situation can be, the one saving grace, for me, is the knowledge that even if I can’t heal their wounds or bring back their loved ones, I can help them see that justice is somewhat served and that they won’t have to suffer financial scars to go with the physical and emotional ones.

Under Florida Liability Laws, the victim of any accident has a right to recover damages. You can read additional blogs here for the details involved, but when the accident involves alcohol, there is an entirely new set of laws, the Dram Shop Laws, that may come into play.

Though Florida’s Dram Shop Laws are considered lenient by many, they do not, however, completely relieve a restaurant, bar, or pub from liability. There are 2 instances where they are still held liable for damages:

1. The sale of alcohol to minors:

Florida Law defines a minor as anyone under the age of 21 years and states that bars or taverns will be held strictly liable for the tender of alcoholic beverages to minors. The key phrase here is “strictly liable”, this means the establishment or its employees cannot plead ignorance of the fact that the person involved was a minor to escape liability. In fact, if they serve a minor who is then involved in an accident, they could find themselves liable for damages from all parties involved as well as facing criminal charges.

2. The sale of alcohol to a person who is known to be “habitually addicted” to alcohol:

Addiction to alcohol is considered a medical disorder and as such a person who has been diagnosed as an alcoholic (habitual addict) is not considered to be able to make reasonable and responsible decisions regarding drinking alcohol. The courts have held that, if this is known and an establishment serves them anyway, the establishment is creating a “foreseeable risk of injury” and can be held liable.

I sincerely hope that you and all of your loved ones will come through the holidays with nothing worse than a few extra pounds added to the waistline, but past experience and statistics tell me that won’t be the case for everyone. If you have been the victim of an accident involving a DUI driver, please, contact a qualified Personal Injury Attorney to advise you of your legal rights and options.