Who is Liable for an Intoxicated Minor's Damages?

April 6, 2012

Jacksonville Beach Personal Injury AttorneyAs the summer season approaches here in Jacksonville Beach so does the amount of tourist and the number of young adults coming to the Beach for a vacation. However, with increase in a younger and commonly more rowdy crowd, there tends to be more alcohol-related incidents. As we all indulge ourselves at Jacksonville Beach and the surrounding nightlife area, some of those who are not of age attempt to indulge as well. This can lead to liability for both the underage drinker and the establishment that served the minor.

Florida Statute § 768.125 covers liability for injuries or damage resulting from intoxication. As a general rule, a person is always liable for their actions, but in some cases the amount of fault of the intoxicated person can be mitigated under Florida's Dram Shop Act. The statute reads:

A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such a minor or person. (West's F.S.A § 768.125)

But, what does that actually mean? It means that people of legal drinking age are responsible for their actions even if they are intoxicated. However, for a minor who was served alcohol at a bar, restaurant, or other establishment and then is later involved in an altercation, resulting in damages, the minor may be able to mitigate his damages by making the establishment that served him liable as well. One important note is the minor will still be at fault and not completely off the hook. The minor will still have to face the civil liability and potentially face Jacksonville Beach Criminal Charges as well.

With the Summer before us, lets all make sure and not over indulge in our activities. Furthermore, those of us who may not be of age to participate in the drinking of alcoholic beverages; don't do it. It can and potentially will end in severe consequences. If, in the unfortunate event, you and/or your loved one are injured by an intoxicated minor or an adult, contact a Jacksonville Beach Personal Injury Attorney to represent you. I offer my clients FREE consultations and have three convenient offices located in Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville, and San Marco.