Drunk Driving and Wrongful Death – Who is Liable?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2022 | Car Accidents

When a drunk driver causes a car accident, he or she is generally responsible for all damages incurred by those involved, including medical and funeral expenses if someone is injured or a person dies. However, in some wrongful death lawsuits, injured parties may file lawsuits against third parties who were responsible for or had contact with the drunk driver.

Third-party claims in these accidents may be against various parties including police officers, employers, social hosts, bars or restaurants, and even other passengers, depending on what role they played in the events that led to the wrongful death action. In Florida, it is very difficult to apply third-party liability for intoxication, but you may be able to recover damages from additional defendants in wrongful death suits if you have the help of an experienced attorney.

How Third-Party Liability Is Applied

Florida Law Section 768.125 says that vendors cannot be sued for injuries caused by their drunk customers. The only time the vendor may be sued is if the vendor knowingly and willfully sold or furnished alcohol to an underage customer (under 21 years) or to someone who was addicted to alcohol (to the knowledge of the business).

Social hosts are protected from most legal claims in the so-called Florida dram shop laws as well. The exception is if they knowingly provide alcohol to guests who are not of the legal drinking age or with an alcohol addiction. Under those circumstances, they may be held liable for any damages the offender causes, especially in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Filing Wrongful Death Claims

In the state of Florida, only the surviving family members or close relatives are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. This includes spouses or partners, parents, children, dependent adoptive siblings, and dependent blood relatives.

You have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit according to the wrongful death statute in Florida. If you don’t file a claim within this time limit, you will not be able to get any compensation in your wrongful death case.

Also remember that in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that the wrongful death was caused by negligence. This is important if you are to get any wrongful death settlements.

Why You Should Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you speak with an attorney about your wrongful death suit, they will be able to determine if there is enough evidence before taking legal action against the defendant. Your claim starts by collecting any documentation or witness statements about the events leading up to and surrounding the victim’s death so that a strong case can be developed in court against the accused person(s).

It is also important to have the right attorney on your side when dealing with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals. You want them to provide accurate information about what happened without any bias or prejudice that may affect your claim.

Get Legal Help After a Wrongful Death

If you are considering taking legal action because of wrongful death, it is important to have an advocate well-versed in the law on your side. The Florida attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC have over 30 years of experience with wrongful death claims and can provide you with the support and guidance you need during this difficult time. Contact us online or call us at 305-376-7860 for a free consultation to discuss your case with a wrongful death lawyer. Our dedicated team will help you decide if you should sue for wrongful death and then help you get the wrongful death settlement you and your loved one deserves.