Today is the first of March, and for many it marks the official start of Spring Break season. Of course, like all those in our area, our Panama Beach injury attorney understands that this time of year involves an influx of visitors seeking to take advantage of our weather and beaches to enjoy their time off. Most Spring Breakers are college students and young adults who have time off of school or other obligations.
As a story today from WJHG TV explained, this season also marks a busy one for local law enforcement agents. In fact, to handle the large influx of visitors, starting next week local officers will start working 12 hour shifts. The department is also asking for added assistance from other local agencies to help with crowd control. Panama City, Panama City Beach, and the Bay County Sheriff's office have an inter-local agreement to help in these situations.
Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman also offered some words of advice for revelers which are worth repeating: "Alcohol and vehicles don't mix. Don't drive and drive. Don't walk up and down the shoulders of the road with alcohol because they don't mix, and balconies are a big safety issue. Don't lean over them. Don't climb from room to room, and don't try to look around them to see who's on the other balcony."
In an ideal world, the Spring Break season would extend without a hitch and no property damage or injuries would be sustained as a result of revelry. However, our Panama City injury lawyer appreciates that this is rarely the case. We'd like to remind all local residents (and visitors) that they have legal rights to help seek recovery if they are harmed as a result of the festivities that occur throughout the area this month.
During the season, as well as throughout the year, community members, business owners, and public entities owe a duty of reasonable care to one another. Failure to act reasonably can involve legal liability. Many local Panama City and Panama City Beach personal injury lawyers help all those harmed in accidents during this time of year. This can take many forms this season.
For example, if a group of revelers is over-served at an establishment and end up getting in a car accident or causing injury to another, a range of legal consequences could accrue. The revelers themselves could obviously face liability for the harm that they cause. In addition, the establishment which over-served the individual may also face a third-party claim. Florida dram shop laws are somewhat limited, but they still may apply in situations that occur over Spring Break.
Most notably, Florida § 768.125 states that any individual or company that sells or serves alcohol to an individual who then causes harm--like a drunk driving accident--can be held liable if the drunk individual was under the age of twenty one or were known to habitually abuse alcohol. Considering that many of the Spring Break participants may be under the legal drinking age, there is a chance that these sorts of situations might arise.
It is important for local businesses to be particularly vigilant about the conduct of those who they invite into their establishment and serve alcohol. There is no excuse for failing to keep these situations under control because owners should be prepared to handle these crowds. If you or someone you know happens to be hurt or suffer property damage as a result of misconduct this season, be sure to seek out the advice of a legal professional to learn how the law might apply in your case.