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Drunk Driver Dram Shop Lawyer in Houston
A drunk driver can rip apart your life. They can severely injure or kill people in car accidents. Families suffer. Victims may be unable to work. Medical bills can be huge. The changes can be overwhelming. Call our Houston area car accident attorneys today.
It is easy to blame the drunk driver. They chose to drink and drive. They deserve the blame for what they did to you. But, have you ever done something stupid and irresponsible because you were drunk? For most adults, the answer is yes. At some point, a drunk person’s decision-making ability falters. If they are drinking in public, someone should refuse to serve them.
That is why Texas has a dram shop law. The Texas Dram Shop Act recognizes that other people can contribute to a drunk driving accident. It lets victims of drunk driving accidents bring claims against commercial establishments that negligently over-serve drunk drivers.
What The Dram Shop Act Establishes
The Dram Shop Act in Texas establishes that businesses or individuals who sell or serve alcoholic beverages can be held liable for damages or injuries caused by an intoxicated person if they were served alcohol when it was apparent they were already intoxicated, and their intoxication was a direct cause of the damages or injuries. Essentially, it provides a legal avenue to hold establishments accountable for over-serving patrons who then cause harm to others due to their intoxication.
Texas Dram Shop Act
The Texas Dram Shop Act lets victims and their families sue
- Other establishments that serve alcohol
It does not let you sue social hosts. Social hosts are friends and family hosting strictly social, non-commercial events. For example, if the driver got too drunk at a family bbq, you cannot sue the host under the Texas Dram Shop Act.
Dram Shop Laws Fall Under “Strict” Liability?
Dram Shop Law falls under “strict liability.” This means that the establishment can be held liable for the actions of an intoxicated patron even if the establishment believed they were acting responsibly.
Under strict liability, the focus is on the act of selling or serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person, rather than the intent or knowledge of the server or establishment. If that act leads to harm or injury, the establishment can be held liable regardless of their intentions or precautions.
Standing To Bring A Dram Shop Claim
You must have standing to bring a claim under the Texas Dram Shop Act. Standing is a legal word that means you have the right to sue under the law. Generally, to have standing, a person needs to be injured by someone’s actions. The Texas Dram Shop Act limits standing to
- Victims of drunk drivers
- Drunk drivers
- Immediate family members of people killed in drunk driving accidents
Standing is just the first hurdle. You also have to prove
- The commercial establishment overserved an “obviously intoxicated” person.
- The person was the driver who caused the accident.
- The accident caused an injury or death.
What Do You Have To Prove In A Dram Shop Claim?
Elements of A Dram Shop Claim
In a Texas Dram Shop claim, the plaintiff typically needs to prove the following:
- Provision of Alcohol: The establishment sold or provided alcohol to the individual.
- Visible Intoxication: At the time of sale or provision, the individual was obviously intoxicated to the extent that they presented a clear danger to themselves and others.
- Direct Link: The intoxication of the individual was a direct cause of the damages or injuries suffered. This means that the over-serving of alcohol at the establishment played a significant role in the subsequent accident or incident.
By establishing these elements, a plaintiff can hold the establishment accountable for their role in contributing to the accident or injury.
Proving Liability in a Texas Dram Shop Act Claim
The bar or other establishment has to be negligent. They must serve an obviously intoxicated person. We must be able to prove that happened. We must prove that
- The driver was obviously intoxicated
- The bar negligently served them
We do not have to prove that the bar knew the driver would drive. The law is that they are not supposed to serve obviously intoxicated people.
Dram Shop Claim Evidence and Types of Proof
Various types of evidence can help us prove a Dram Shop claim.
- Receipts or bank statements
- Cell Phone Photos
- Witness testimony
- Security footage
You want to file these claims as quickly as possible because the evidence is more challenging to gather the further away in time you are from the accident.
Do Dram Shop Laws Make Servers Liable for Intoxicated Patrons?
Yes, Dram Shop Laws in Texas can make establishments, including servers, bartenders, and business owners, liable for the actions of intoxicated patrons. If a server continues to provide alcohol to a patron who is visibly intoxicated, and that patron subsequently causes harm or injury to themselves or others, the server and the establishment can be held legally responsible for the resulting damages.
However, it’s important to note that while the establishment can be held liable, the primary responsibility often lies with the intoxicated individual. The Dram Shop Laws provide an avenue to hold establishments accountable when their negligence in over-serving contributes to an accident or injury.
Can A Drunk Driver Make A Dram Shop Claim If Injured?
Drunk drivers can file Texas Dram Shop Act injury claims. If a drunk driver causes a wreck and injures himself, they have a first-party dram shop claim.
In Texas, a drunk driver can potentially make a Dram Shop claim if injured, but it’s more challenging. While the primary responsibility for driving while intoxicated lies with the driver, if it can be proven that an establishment or server negligently over-served the driver when it was apparent they were already intoxicated, the establishment might be held partially liable.
However, the drunk driver’s own negligence will likely reduce the amount of compensation they can receive, and in many cases, the driver’s actions may significantly limit or negate their ability to successfully pursue a Dram Shop claim.
You should also visit our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer page if you’ve been injured.
What If A Drunk Driver Injures Me?
Anyone injured by a negligently over-served drunk driver could bring a third-party dram shop claim. It is not enough to be in an accident. You must have injuries.
What If My Family Was Killed By A Drunk Driver?
There are two types of claims that loved ones can bring. The first is wrongful death claim, which you can bring if a drunk driver kills an immediate family member.
The second is a loss of consortium claim.
Dram Shop Loss Of Consortium Lawyer
Loss of consortium claim depends on the idea that the person’s injuries prevent them from contributing to the household in the same way they could before the accident.
Some things that support the loss of consortium claims include are
- No longer able to work
- No longer able to do housework
- No longer able to have sex
Dram Shop Wrongful Death Lawyer
You must be an immediate family member to bring a wrongful death case. That includes
- Spouses- You must be a current spouse, not an ex. You must be married, not just partners. Common law spouses and same-sex spouses count.
- Children- Natural and adopted children can bring wrongful death suits. Stepchildren cannot, even if the deceased acted as a parent.
- Parents- Natural and adoptive parents can bring wrongful death suits. Stepparents cannot, even if they acted as a parent to the deceased.
Dram Shop Lawyer Near Me
If you’ve been injured in a Dram Shop claim, then call our personal injury lawyers at The Salazar Law Firm. Our Houston Dram Shop Attorneys can help you recover for your injuries.
Proving a Texas Dram Shop Act claim involves more than establishing a drunk driving case. We offer free no-obligation evaluations to help you determine whether you have a dram shop claim. Contact us today to get started.
Texas Dram Shop Lawyer FAQs
What Is The Social Host Liability Law in Texas?
In Texas, the Social Host Liability Law holds individuals liable if they provide alcohol to minors under 18 in their homes or premises, and this results in injury or damage. However, social hosts generally aren't liable for serving alcohol to adults, even if they become intoxicated and cause harm.
Can Dram Shop Liability Be Imposed Without Proof of Negligence?
Yes, Dram Shop Liability in Texas operates under strict liability, meaning establishments can be held responsible for over-serving alcohol without proving they acted negligently. The focus is on the act of serving, not the intent.
What Is An Example Of A Dram Shop Act Violation?
An example of a Dram Shop Act violation is when a bar continues to serve drinks to a patron who is visibly intoxicated, and that patron later causes a car accident due to their intoxication, injuring another person.