Whether you have been injured in an accident or a loved one has been killed by a drunk driver, it is critical to know what to do and what steps to take to make sure that you do not wreck your Texas dram shop case, and ensure you receive every bit of compensation you deserve.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you are considering pursing a Texas dram shop lawsuit, you need to get started right away. The longer you wait, the more the evidence decays, so it is important to get started as soon as possible.
A Texas dram shop lawyer can be vital to your success in pursuing your Texas dram shop lawsuit if there is any evidence that:
- You or a loved one has been injured in an accident and sustained serious injuries
- The person who caused the accident was intoxicated
- The person who caused the accident drank alcohol at a place of business
- The person who caused the accident was overserved alcohol when he was already obviously intoxicated
- The person who caused the accident was permitted to drive after being overserved at a bar or restaurant
How a Texas Dram Shop Lawyer Can Assist You
The Texas dram shop act is a subcategory of personal injury made specifically to deal with accidents involving alcohol. But while this subsection of personal injury has many of the same elements as that of a normal car wreck, these types of cases are a lot more complex and require a lot more work. To understand this complexity, we first need to understand Texas dram shop liability, the Texas dram shop act, what is required of providers of alcohol, and what is required of someone bringing forth a Texas dram shop claim.
What is Texas Dram Shop Liability?
Texas dram shop liability is the legal responsibility that providers of alcohol such as bars, restaurants, caterers, etc. have for continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is already drunk. When that person then drives and causes a wreck, the server/server of alcohol and the establishment can be held liable for the damages caused by that accident.
Texas Dram Shop Act
Because these providers of alcohol have the privilege of profiting off the sale of alcohol, many states have instituted statutes that place a duty and responsibility on these providers to take necessary measures and precautions to prevent their customers from driving while intoxicated. The Texas dram shop acts arose out of a case back in the 1980’s, which set the groundwork and formed Texas dram shop law into what it is today.
What is Required of Providers of Alcohol
In general, providers of alcohol (bars, restaurants, taverns, caterers, etc.) are prohibited from selling or serving alcohol to individuals who are already drunk or obviously intoxicated.
More specifically, according to the Texas dram shop act, an alcohol provider can be held responsible if:
- It was clear that the recipient was already drunk and posed a clear danger to himself and/or others.
- The accident happened as a direct result of the intoxication of that individual.
The problem that arises when pursing Texas dram shop cases is that the person who was injured and is bringing forth the lawsuit has the burden of proof, and it can be very hard to prove the two criteria above.
Another Obstacle: The Safe Harbor Defense
Additionally, the Texas dram shop act fosters a provision called the Safe Harbor Defense, which allows providers of alcohol to sometimes avoid liability for their employees’ actions. This provision of the Texas dram shop act establishes certain instances and conditions where the establishment can avoid this responsibility. These conditions include:
- Requiring all employees to undergo training on alcohol and awareness through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC)
- This training teaches sellers/servers of alcohol techniques and strategies to utilize so they will be able to identify intoxicated customers. Even if the seller/serve is not actively watching the customer, this liquor license training provides methods to be able to identify whether or not someone was intoxicated simply based on the amount of alcohol that has been sold to them. (Being familiar with these types of aspects of Texas dram shop cases is extremely critical to the success of the case.)
- The employees undergo and complete the training
- The employer does not either directly or indirectly encourage any overserving of alcohol.
Again, in a Texas dram shop cases the individual bringing forth the lawsuit bears the burden of proof, meaning they must prove that the establishment either directly or indirectly encouraged the unsafe sale of alcohol to already drunk customers. While the employer bears the burden of proof not only in showing that the employees are required to take the two-hour Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission training on alcohol and awareness but also that the employees actually took it, the victim must still be able to acquire that evidence and properly utilize it when fighting against these bars and restaurants and their insurance carriers.
What is Required of Victims Pursuing Texas Dram Shop Lawsuits
As previously stated, when bringing about a Texas dram shop lawsuit, the burden of proof is on you. There are several aspects of the case that need to be proven, namely:
- The overserving of alcohol at an establishment was the direct and proximate cause of the accident
- The waiter/bartender served alcohol to the person who caused the accident when they were already drunk and “obviously intoxicated”
- The establishment did not require their employees to take the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission training on alcohol and awareness
- The employees of the establishment did not complete the training on alcohol and awareness through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
- The establishment was directly or indirectly encouraging the overserving of alcohol by its employees to its customers
Remember, when it comes to proving your Texas dram shop claim, evidence is king. It does not matter if you just heard that the person who caused the accident was falling over in a bar from being drunk, and still being served alcohol before being allowed to leave a drive. You need hard proof of everything. This would include obtaining accident reports, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission reports, a blood-alcohol test, a report from a toxicology expert, receipts, video footage, witness statements, etc. Unless you have hard evidence, your Texas dram shop lawsuit will not hold any weight with the establishments and their insurance carriers, and it certainly will not hold up in a court of law.
In addition, you must prove up your damages from the accident. That means collecting and maintaining your medical records and bills as well as any other documentation showing how you were negatively affected as a result of this accident such as lost wages from being forced to be out of work.
Contact a Texas Dram Shop Lawyer
Because Texas Dram Shop cases are so much more complex and harder to pursue than regular car wrecks, talking with an attorney can help you not feel so overwhelmed and give you some direction. Whether you hire us or not, we can give you some guidance. Call us today at 940-560-4000 or fill out our contact form for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.