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Are Restaurants Liable if a Patron Eating on the Sidewalk is Injured by a Drunk Driver?

Restaurant liability for drunk drivers Fort Lauderdale, FL

Sidewalk and street-side dining has become an increasingly popular options for restaurants that want to increase their outdoor seating, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic encourages diners to eat outside at restaurants. Unfortunately, sidewalk and street-side tables put diners at risk of injury due to drunk drivers who drive into seating areas.

When a drunk driver gets into an accident in street-side and sidewalk dining, diners who are injured in the accident need to carefully examine all the parties who may bear legal liability for their injuries and damages so that they can give themselves the best chance at recovering maximum compensation. Surprisingly, depending on the circumstances of an accident the restaurant itself may have some responsibility to diners injured by drunk drivers who collide into sidewalk and street-side dining areas.

Steps Restaurants Can Take to Keep Sidewalk Diners Safe

Of course, no one expects that a vehicle driven by a drunk driver will careen into a sidewalk dining area. As a result, restaurants may not even think to take steps to keep diners safe from a drunk driver’s vehicle. However, restaurants should at a minimum ensure that their sidewalk and street-side dining areas comply with all local and state requirements, including all required safety measures. When restaurants fail to adhere to these safety measures, diners injured by a drunk driver’s vehicle may be entitled to hold the restaurant partially at fault for their injuries.

Other steps restaurants may take to protect drivers and to reduce their liability including ensuring that the outdoor dining areas are properly maintained and functional, including safety measures such as barricades. Restaurants may also wish to consider posting warnings advising diners of the possible risks of vehicle-related accidents by sitting on the sidewalk or street-side. Restaurants can also design sidewalk and street-side dining areas so that diners can see if a drunk driver’s vehicle is headed toward the seating area and potentially get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle. When a restaurant designs its sidewalk and street-side seatings areas in such a way that diners are actually at greater risk for injury in the event of an accident caused by a drunk driver (such as not being able to escape from the dining area or being injured by flying debris from the impact), the restaurant might be held partially at fault for diners’ injuries.

How Restaurants Can Be Held Liable by Sidewalk Diners for Drunk Driver Accidents

Ultimately, an injured diner who wishes to seek compensation from a restaurant for an accident caused by a drunk driver will need to prove that the restaurant was negligent in some fashion. If there is no evidence showing that there were no actions that the restaurant could have taken that might have prevented the accident or diners’ injuries, it may prove highly unlikely that the restaurant can be held liable.

Issues Injured Diners May Face in Pursuing Claims Against the Restaurant

Injured diners may have difficulties securing persuasive evidence of a restaurant’s negligence, including establishing each of the four elements of negligence. For example, it may not be possible to prove that the restaurant owed diners a duty to protect them from drunk drivers colliding with the dining area, or that the restaurant breached any duty that does exist. Finally, it may be very difficult for diners to prove that a restaurant’s actions or omissions directly and proximately contributed to the injuries they suffered from the drunk driver accident.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Drunk Driving Accident Case in Florida

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a drunk driving accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured because of drunk driving accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Plantation, and throughout Florida. Call (754) 226-1747 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312, as well as offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and Pompano Beach.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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