Unfortunately, a shooting outside a bar is not an uncommon scenario. Consuming alcohol triggers chemical changes in the brain, which may cause an intoxicated person to become aggressive.
In fact, two drunk people bumping into one another at a bar can cause a fight or shoot outside a bar. But can the establishment be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages when its patrons pull out firearms and start shooting people?
Shooting Outside a Bar in Daytona Beach, Florida
On May 23, 2020, two people were injured outside a bar in Daytona Beach, Florida. According to WFTV, the incident occurred behind a 7-Eleven on South Atlantic Avenue near the Boardwalk.
The victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while four other people were hit by shrapnel. One person was held in custody, but that person is reportedly not the gunman. When shooting outside a bar occurs, there is often a question of whether the bar can be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by its patrons.
Is it a negligent security problem when a bar’s patrons get into a fight or start shooting inside or outside the premises of the bar? Can bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other establishments that serve alcohol be held liable for the violent, negligent, and criminal acts of their patrons?
Liability for Injuries and Damages from a Shooting Outside a Bar
Typically, victims of a shooting outside a bar in Florida may be able to sue the establishment under the doctrine of:
- Premises liability
- Dram shop liability
A bar owner can be held responsible for injuries and damages caused by shooting inside or outside a bar when the owner or its employees were aware of the gunman’s propensity for violence but failed to take the appropriate safety measures to prevent the incident.
In the May 23 shooting outside a bar in Daytona Beach, victims may be able to show that the establishment was aware of the patron’s propensity for violence and prove that the incident was foreseeable and could have been prevented.
If a bar, restaurant, or nightclub adopts measures to secure its premises (e.g., by installing security cameras and hiring security guards), the establishment creates an affirmative duty to protect its patrons from foreseeable harm and violence.
Also, a bar can be sued for the wrongful, negligent, or criminal actions of its security guards. However, it is worth mentioning that not all fights or shootings inside or outside a bar are foreseeable and can be prevented by adequate safety measures adopted by the owner.
Florida’s Dram Shop Liability and Incidents Inside and Outside Bars
In many states, bars and other alcohol-serving establishments can be held liable for overserving alcoholic beverages to their patrons who later hurt someone else or cause harm. Dram shop liability is applied when a patron is overserved and causes a vehicle accident after leaving the bar.
Also, a bar could be held liable under the doctrine of dram shop liability when an intoxicated patron causes a fight or starts shooting inside or outside the establishment. However, Florida’s dram shop law is a bit different.
According to Florida Statute 768.125:
- A person who sells alcohol to an underage person can be held liable for any injuries and damages caused by the minor in the intoxicated state; and
- A person who knowingly sells alcoholic beverages to an individual with a known drinking problem or addiction can be held liable for injuries and damages caused by that person in the impaired state.
Unlike dram shot liability statutes in other states, Florida’s dram shop law does not make bars and other alcohol-serving establishments liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. Thus, if the bar continued to serve an already intoxicated gunman who later started shooting outside a bar, the establishment cannot be held liable under Florida’s dram shop law unless the gunman is underage or has a known drinking problem.
Shooting Outside a Bar: Premises Liability and Negligent Security
Under Florida law, bars and other establishments have a duty to eliminate all foreseeable and known dangers, including risks of shootings, fights, and other violent crimes. If you suffered an injury during a bar fight or a shooting outside a bar due to the bar owner’s negligence or negligent security, you might be able to pursue a premises liability claim.
You may need help from a Daytona Beach negligent security attorney to help you prove that the incident or crime was foreseeable and that the establishment failed to take adequate safety measures to prevent harm. Contact our skilled Florida premises liability lawyers at Zimmet & Zimmet to investigate your case and determine liability. Call at 386-255-6400 for a case review.