In the state of Texas, in an attempt to curb the rapidly rising number of DUI-related car accidents, injuries, and fatalities, a set of regulations named dram shop laws were created. These laws were designed to act as a preventative, placing responsibility on the state’s many dram shops (venues that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises).
If your Deer Park, TX business is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, specifically for your patrons to consume on the premises, you have a responsibility and duty of care to your customers under the dram shop law.
This means that you should refuse to serve an alcoholic beverage to any visibly intoxicated person. If you do serve alcohol to a patron that is visibly intoxicated, you could be found negligent and liable for their actions if they go on to cause an accident as a drunk driver.
If you have been on the receiving end of an accident with a drunk driver, and the at-fault party had been drinking at a dram shop, the establishment may be liable for your damages and you may be entitled to seek compensation.
At Abraham Watkins, we have been dealing with personal injury, wrongful death, drunk driving, and dram shop liability cases for over 70 years. Serving Texas since 1951, we have won numerous cases for clients in similar situations to yours.
We know how to strike fast, obtaining quick and easy settlements for simple cases, and we aren’t afraid to dig in, fighting aggressively without rest in complex court cases. Whichever approach your case demands, we are ready to put our vast experience and skill to work.
Contact our law firm today at 713-535-9319 to speak to a dedicated personal injury attorney about the legal services we can offer.
How Common are Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents
Unfortunately, Texas has a high rate of DUI incidents. Every single year drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs are pulled over, or worse, go on to cause accidents. What’s worse, when a drunk driver causes an accident, there is a drastically increased chance of fatality or life-changing injury.
In Texas every single 20 minutes, there is a drunk driving accident that results in the death or serious injury of an innocent victim. This equates to over 13,000 alcohol-related crashes every single year.
Do I Have a Dram Shop Liability Case Following a Drunk Driving Accident in Deer Park, TX?
If a drunk driver was traveling from a local dram shop when they caused your accident, it is fair to assume that they were served alcohol at that venue. If the patron was over-served alcoholic beverages when visibly intoxicated, and the venue did nothing to stop them from entering their vehicle and driving away, you have the right to seek compensation for the damages suffered.
For a venue to be classified as a dram shop, it must serve alcohol to be consumed on the premises, therefore liquor stores are not usually dram shops.
Victims that may be entitled to a claim include:
- The family of anyone killed.
- Other drivers.
- In rare cases, the intoxicated driver themselves.
- Passengers in either car.
Deer Park Dram Shop Laws and Liability Explained
When we talk about dram shop law liability, we are referring to the duty of care and responsibility that every dram shop in Texas has to its customers. This duty of care means that they should refuse service if the patron is visibly or obviously intoxicated.
If it can be proven that the venue broke its duty of care by serving alcohol to someone who was already visibly intoxicated, then this may count as negligent behavior. Negligent behavior is any behavior that is seen as different from what a “reasonable” individual would do in the same situation. If it can be proven that the venue acted in a negligent manner, then liability may be assigned.
If a venue is found to be liable, then you may be entitled to seek compensation from them for any damages. In this case that would include the damages caused by the drunken driver after being served at their venue.
Dram Shop Injuries Caused
Intoxication of alcohol massively reduces the ability to judge and react quickly.
This means that drunk drivers often fail to see the hazard, fail to act in time to avoid it, and fail to slam on their brakes. The results are a higher speed impact with an increased chance for fatality and serious injury.
Driving with a high blood alcohol content not only puts your own life at risk, but it also has the potential to ruin the lives of the victims and the victim’s families forever.
Steps You Should Take After a DUI Accident
In the resulting chaos of a drunk driving accident, it can become easy to be overwhelmed by the situation. This can make it hard to make sensible judgment calls and can make it easy to forget important things like collecting witness details and evidence.
If you are in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, here are some steps you should try to follow to ensure you have the best possible chances of a successful compensation claim later on down the line.
Never Leave the Scene of the Accident
You should never leave the scene of an accident until you have followed certain steps. These steps become even more important when there is a drunk driver involved as following them will mean that you have a much better chance of seeking compensation via a drunk driving personal injury claim or via a dram shop liability claim.
Check for Injuries
Firstly, and most importantly, if you are ever involved in an accident where you suspect you have hit your head or you can feel pain in your neck, shoulders, or spine, try not to move until the emergency services arrive. They will be able to make sure that you are moved in the correct manner that ensures your injuries are not aggravated and made worse.
If you feel safe enough to move, check your body for lacerations and burns, and then check any passengers for injuries. You should also move to a place of safety if possible.
Call an Ambulance if There are Injuries
It doesn’t matter how big or small the injuries seem to be, if there are injuries you should always call for an ambulance. The paramedics will be able to check you over for internal bleeding or hidden injuries that may lay dormant and present no outward symptoms.
The emergency services will also file an accident report that can be used as unbiased evidence later on.
Call the Police
It is always the best option to call for the police following a car accident but it becomes a must if you suspect that the at-fault party may be under the influence of alcohol. The police will be able to administer a blood alcohol test which can be used later on as instrumental evidence, they will make the road safe and divert traffic and they will file a report that you can use later.
When it comes to any personal injury case, evidence is always important. The more you can collect, the easier it will be for your attorney to build a strong case that accurately describes what happened.
We recommend that you take a video or pictures of the scene and if you are able to you should jot down a quick statement of what happened. This can be really helpful, especially if your memory becomes cloudy in the weeks and months that follow.
If you are lucky enough that there were eye-witnesses on the scene and they are willing, collect a witness statement and most importantly, get as many contact details for them as possible. Names, numbers, emails, addresses, everything you possibly can.
It can be a smart idea to ask them if they mind if you take a quick voice recording of their statement.
Hire a Deer Park, TX Dram Shop Lawyer
With dram shop liability cases, the sooner after your accident you get in touch with an attorney, the higher your chances are of seeking the full and maximum compensation that could be owed to you.
This is because the sooner you get in touch, the sooner your attorney can begin investigating on your behalf. They will have better chances of finding important evidence like CCTV footage or receipts. The further you get from the incident, the higher the chances that pieces of evidence like this will be destroyed.
You will also need to contact your insurance company to inform them of the accident. But we recommend that you speak to an attorney first so that they can advise you.
When is a Dram Shop Liable for Overserving Alcohol to an Intoxicated Patron in Deer Park, Texas?
Under Texas’s Dram Shop Act, premises must refuse service to obviously and overly intoxicated patrons that ask for more alcohol.
Dram shops can be found liable and responsible if:
- It is clear that the customer was intoxicated to the level that they could have been a danger to themselves or others.
- The intoxicated individual went on to cause the damages.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense to Dram Shop Liability?
In order to reduce their liability, venues may be able to utilize the “Safe Harbor Defense”.
This defense can only be used if the venues have implemented the correct measures necessary.
In order to use this defense, employers must be able to prove that their bartenders have undergone a 2-hour training course designed to improve awareness.
This training is not compulsory in order to serve alcohol in the state of Texas but if venues want to be able to utilize the Safe Harbor Defense, they will need evidence they have provided the training.
For more on the Texas Dram Shop Act and the Safer Harbor Defense, refer to 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Is the Average Settlement for Dram Shop Claims in Deer Park TX?
Cases involving drunken drivers are always complex, no two cases that we deal with look the same. The specific damages and series of events that led to the accident are always different.
This means that the settlement figures vary massively depending on the following factors:
- The severity of the injuries.
- How much the accident has impacted your day-to-day life.
- The level of property damage.
- How costly medical bills are.
- The age of the injured victim.
- The past and potential future medical expenses.
- The fault.
When calculated properly by an attorney, your settlement figure will be what they believe to be fair and reasonable. This will make it much harder to argue with and much more likely that the other party will just accept instead of declining your offer.
First, your attorney will look at all of the damages that you have suffered that have a clear quantifiable figure attached to them. This includes things like damage to your car and property as well as all your medical bills and transport bills.
Next, they will look at the damages that are not as tangible. Things like emotional trauma and loss of enjoyment of life are what are known as pain and suffering damages. A skilled attorney, one with experience in cases like yours will know how to determine a fair figure for your pain and suffering damages.
Call a Deer Park Dram Shop Lawyer Today
We pride ourselves on our reputation as one of Texas’s longest-serving law firms here at Abraham Watkins. With over 70 years of serving the state of Texas, we have a vast wealth of experience.
We have won countless favorable outcomes, resulting in a long list of happy clientele. For simple cases, we know how to win quick and easy settlements and for complex cases, we aren’t afraid to pull our sleeves up and fight aggressively, never backing down until you get the fair and reasonable treatment that you deserve.
If you have been hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, or an accident has resulted in the loss of a loved one, then you deserve to fight for compensation and to seek justice from the negligent party.
Call Abraham Watkins today for a free consultation and seek the full and maximum compensation that you deserve. Our phone lines are manned around the clock, call us at 713-535-9319!
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