can bars be held liable for over serving

When you go out for a night on the town in Florida, you expect bars and restaurants to provide a fun and safe environment. However, there are occasions when the evening takes a turn due to excessive alcohol service. In Florida, establishments like bars and restaurants can indeed be held liable if they over-serve alcohol to patrons, especially if it leads to injury or harm.

Keep reading for more from our skilled West Palm Beach premises liability lawyers, then call (561) 655-1990 to schedule your free consultation.

Understanding Florida’s dram shop laws

Florida’s Dram Shop law guides its approach to holding alcohol-serving establishments accountable. This law specifies that a bar, restaurant, or similar establishment can only be held liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of a person if:

  • They knowingly serve a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.
  • They serve alcohol to a person who is not of lawful drinking age (under 21 in Florida).

This statute is relatively limited compared to other states, focusing primarily on these two situations. The law does not generally allow for establishments to be held liable simply because they served someone too much alcohol unless it involves underage drinking or a known habitual addict.

Why the focus on habitual addicts and minors?

The rationale behind this specific focus is to protect the most vulnerable populations from the dangers of alcohol abuse.


Young individuals are statistically more prone to risky behaviors involving alcohol, which can lead to severe accidents or DUI-related incidents.

Habitual addicts

Individuals with a known addiction to alcohol are at a higher risk of harming themselves or others when they consume alcohol. Bars and restaurants must be aware of and act responsibly towards these patrons.

Liability and legal actions

If an establishment breaches these obligations by serving alcohol to minors or habitual addicts, they can be deemed negligent. Victims of accidents or families of deceased accident victims can seek damages from these establishments under Florida’s Dram Shop laws.

For anyone involved in an accident where alcohol was a factor, it’s important to gather comprehensive evidence showing that the establishment knowingly served alcohol under these unlawful circumstances.

How Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help

At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we have extensive experience navigating the complexities of Florida’s liability laws concerning alcohol service. We provide:

  • Free consultations are available to evaluate the circumstances of your case.
  • Comprehensive investigation services to establish proof of over-service.
  • Expert legal representation to ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve.

Practical steps after an alcohol-related incident

If you or a loved one has been injured following a visit to a bar or restaurant, here are some immediate steps to consider:

  1. Seek medical attention for any injuries.
  2. Document all details of the incident, including where you were, what you observed regarding alcohol service, and any receipts or proof of purchase.
  3. Contact a skilled attorney specializing in personal injury.

Do you believe an over-served driver caused your crash? We can help.

If you suspect that an accident was caused by an establishment overserving alcohol, contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath for a thorough evaluation of your legal options. Our team is committed to advocating for the safety and rights of our community members and ensuring that establishments are held accountable for their actions.

Contact us directly for more information or to schedule a consultation. We’re here to help you navigate these challenging situations with expertise and care.

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