If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, it is important to understand all of your options. In some cases, the dram shop liability laws in Texas may be relevant and provide you with additional legal options. In Texas, a “dram shop” is any establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed. This would include bars, taverns, some restaurants, and more, but would not include a typical liquor store.
What Is Dram Shop Liability?
Dram shop liability laws state that an establishment that falls under these laws may be held responsible for any accidents or injuries caused by their customers, but only in certain cases. In order to be held liable, the following requirements must be met:
- Sold to Intoxicated Person – The establishment must have sold alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated already. At the point of selling them a drink, the individual must have presented a clear danger to themselves or to those around them.
- Reasonable Amount of Time – The accident or injury must have occurred within a reasonable amount of time after the drink was sold to them. That is, someone can’t get drunk at a bar, make it home safely, then the next morning get into a car wreck and sue the establishment.
- Minors – If an establishment sells to a minor, they could be held liable even if that minor was not or did not appear to be intoxicated.
Potential For Liability
Another point that is important to make is that Texas is not a strict liability state, which means that an establishment is not going to be held 100% responsible for the damages in most cases. Instead, a bar’s level of liability for injuries will be determined by the court, and they will only be responsible for paying for that percentage of any damages awarded. A simple example of this is someone who begins drinking at home, then goes to the bar for another drink with friends, and then gets in an accident on the way home. In this example, the courts may see that the bar was responsible for only 30% of the injury, and would therefore only have to pay that much. There are many factors that the courts can use when determining how liable an establishment may be.
When to Sue
If you have been in a drunk driving accident (either as the drunk driver, or a victim of a drunk driver), deciding whether it is possible to sue a bar under the dram shop laws can be challenging. An attorney can begin investigating the establishment’s culpability by interviewing other people who may have been at the bar, establishing a timeline for the events of the evening, calculating the blood alcohol content, and more. The Dieye Firm can help you in your pursuit of proper compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained. Contact us here.