Firm partner Dax Bello represented four young women who, while visiting Florida from Mississippi for a wedding, were severely injured in a head-on collision with a 20-year-old drunk driver. The underaged drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel, crossed over the median, and began traveling in the opposite direction of traffic in Destin, Florida. Our clients incurred ruinous medical bills and suffered significant injuries—both physically and emotionally. Although the drunk driver did not have any insurance coverage, Dax Bello successfully recovered over $1 million for the victims by prosecuting the bar that illegally served the drunk driver.
According to the lawsuit, a local establishment served the drunk driver alcohol despite her age, and she became intoxicated in the hours leading up to the crash. Meanwhile, the bar denied that the drunk driver was at their establishment and denied serving her alcohol on the night of the crash. After extensive discovery—including depositions of the drunk driver and independent witnesses—Dax was able to prove our clients’ case.
Under Florida law, bars, restaurants, and other establishments are generally immune from liability stemming from the intoxication of a patron. However, there are two exceptions that exist:
- The service of alcohol to a person who is habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages
- The service of alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age
Firm partner Dax Bello has successfully pursued dozens of liquor liability cases in Florida, also known as dram shop cases, on behalf of clients who have been catastrophically injured or lost a loved one due to the negligent service of alcohol by bars and restaurants. He had this to say about this case:
“These cases are a perfect example of what digging deeper, beyond the surface of a case, can do for a client. There were clues here for potential additional liability and coverage outside of the standard automobile insurance policies, the most glaring of which was an underaged drunk driver. Luckily, our co-counsel correctly identified that there may be more available for the clients but also knew that these cases are well defended and become hotly litigated. We’ve got the playbook and, thankfully for the clients, he knew that and got us involved.”