On the night of — our 22 year old client was about to open her car door which was legally parked on a quiet neighborhood street in front of her house in Deland, Florida. Without warning she was struck from the side by a car that had swerved across the road. She was launched approximately 100 feet in the air causing life threatening traumatic head injuries. She required life saving brain surgery and remained in a coma. She was ultimately found to have severe irreversible brain damage and required a one-year inpatient brain rehabilitation admission where she had to relearn to walk, talk, and perform most activities of daily living. The driver of the vehicle that struck her was 19 years old and was driving under the influence at the time of the accident with a blood alcohol level of almost twice the legal limit. Our investigation revealed that this driver had dinner at a local chain steakhouse where she purchased and was served two alcoholic beverages. After leaving the restaurant she then went to a national chain bar and grill where she purchased served and consumed several more alcoholic beverages. We were able to determine the exact number and nature of these alcohol ice beverages by obtaining the register receipts and comparing them to what she and her companion remembered they had eaten and purchased and by matching the description of the servers they provided, with the server #’s on the register receipts. Both of these establishments had written policies that required any patron that appeared to be under the age of 35 years old be asked for identification before being served alcohol.
The impaired driver was not asked for ID. This claim was brought under Florida’s DRAM shop laws, which imposes liability for failing to screen underage patrons and serving them alcohol. Our client used the settlement proceeds to build a cottage on the back portion of her mother’s property to continue with rehabilitation and to continue her education.