Drunk Drivers May Not Be the Only Liable Parties Following a DUI Accident

October 27, 2023 | Jarrett Blakeley
Drunk Drivers May Not Be the Only Liable Parties Following a DUI Accident

When thinking about liability in a drunk driving accident, it’s common to assume that the drunk driver is the only potentially liable party. However, there are various laws in place that allow accident victims to pursue a claim against other parties, such as bars and restaurants or manufacturers and distributors of a dangerous product that contributed to the accident.

For example, recently, a federal judge issued an opinion in a case involving a fatal accident caused by a driver under the influence of Ultra Duster, a commonly-available inhalant most frequently used to clean electronics. According to the court’s opinion, a man purchased a can of Ultra Duster at Walmart. He inhaled the contents before getting behind the wheel. As he was driving, he lost control of the vehicle, hitting and killing two children and an adult.

While the victims’ families certainly had a potential case against the driver, in his case, the court was tasked with determining whether the distributor of Ultra Duster was also liable for the accident under a theory of strict product liability. Ultimately, the court held that, while the distributor placed the product into the stream of commerce, the connection between the company’s actions and the victims’ death amounted to “speculation.” Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s strict liability claims.

However, the court declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ traditional negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. Thus, the plaintiffs’ case will proceed to trial or settlement negotiations on those two issues. Arguably, the plaintiffs’ product liability claim was their strongest claim because these cases do not require a plaintiff to prove that a distributor was negligent. However, the plaintiffs will now have a chance to establish that the distributor violated a duty of care owed to the victims, which contributed to their deaths.

Can Bars or Restaurants Be Liable for a DUI Accident?

Yes, in certain situations, Florida car accident victims can hold bars or restaurants financially liable in the event they serve alcohol to someone who subsequently causes a DUI accident. Under Florida Statutes § 768.125, better known as Florida’s dram shop law, a bar or restaurant is liable for the actions of a drunk driver in one of two situations.

  1. The establishment sells or otherwise provides alcohol to a minor under the age of 21; or
  2. The establishment “knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.”

Of course, bars and restaurants will almost always contest these claims by arguing that a minor provided seemingly valid identification suggesting they were old enough to drink or by claiming that there was insufficient evidence that an adult was “habitually addicted” to alcohol. An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can assist accident victims and grieving families in preparing their claims to effectively overcome these defenses.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida DUI Accident?

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a DUI accident, the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at the Blakeley Law Firm, P.A. are here to help. At the Blakeley Law Firm, P.A., we have decades of experience aggressively advocating on behalf of accident victims and grieving families, connecting them with meaningful compensation for everything they’ve been through. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will explain the recovery process, answer all your questions, and discuss how we can help with your case. If you decide to file a claim, we will not bill you for any of our services unless and until we win your case, either through a settlement or jury verdict. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 800-602-5000. You can also connect with us through our secure online contact form.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

Author's Bio