Serving the state for over 70 years, the team here at Abraham Watkins has witnessed firsthand the damage that alcohol can cause. Drivers under the influence and aggressive revelers are often the main cause of the injuries that clients come to us with.
Dram shop liability laws in Texas are designed to place a level of responsibility on the numerous dram shops across the state. When you consider that in Texas, there is a drunk driving accident once every 20 minutes or around 72 times a day, it is easy to see why these measures were required.
The term dram shop refers to any venue that serves alcohol to customers. This includes venues like bars, restaurants, clubs, and hotels. If it can be proven that the venue over-served a customer who was obviously intoxicated when they should not have, and that patron has gone on to cause injury or damage to another party, the venue may be liable for those damages.
Seeking compensation and recovering your damages is not an easy task, however, and it will be a tough battle. The best chances of success will always be if you seek the representation of a skilled and experienced dram shop lawyer.
Texas Dram Shop Law
League City, TX, follows the same rules and regulations as the rest of the state of Texas. The main one is the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, commonly known as the Texas Dram Shop Act.
The most common dram shop law violation we see is where a venue overserves alcohol to a patron who then causes a drunk driving accident.
Other violations include:
- Serving alcohol to a minor.
- Encouraging excessive drinking.
- Allowing or encouraging an intoxicated person to enter their vehicle.
- Continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated.
- Overserving to the point where it creates a substantial risk of death.
If any of these violations contribute to an incident that leads to damages, such as a DUI accident, a fight, or damaged property, then the dram shop may be held liable for the damages suffered by victims. In your free consultation, your League City dram shop attorney will be able to determine whether they believe you have a valid claim.
The Effects of Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages have a dramatic effect on the body. Alcohol impairs judgment and decision-making and causes people to act more recklessly and uninhibited.
When some people drink too much alcohol, they are not capable of knowing that they need to stop and that decision needs to be made for them.
One of the most serious things that an intoxicated person can do is drive their car. They may not realize it, but their reaction time is slowed, their judgment is reduced, and they have an increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
If a drunk driver encounters a hazard, they may miss it entirely or be incapable of reacting to it properly. All of these factors increase the risk of a serious accident, resulting in severe injuries and even death.
Why Are Dram Shops Held Liable For The Actions of Their Customers?
We often get questions about how someone can be held liable for damages that happened in an incident that they were not even present at. It is not the case that a dram shop is held liable because of their customer’s actions, but rather it is held responsible because of its own actions.
Dram shops have a duty of care to their patrons to take steps to keep them safe from harm. This is because they have a license to sell alcohol, which holds them to specific standards. Any licensed profession has similar stimulations. Consider a medical professional, because they have a license to practice medicine, they can be found liable for sub-par care. This is in contrast to a friend who gives you medical advice; as they are not licensed, they can not be held liable for bad advice.
Consider this example. A group of friends are out celebrating a 21st birthday. The person whose birthday it keeps getting bought drinks. It is her first time at a bar, and she can barely stand. If the bar continues to serve her alcohol despite the fact that she is obviously intoxicated, then this is negligent. Considering that alcohol seriously hinders a person’s decision-making ability, she can no longer be held fully responsible for her actions.
Dram shops know the standards they are required to follow, but often they ignore them. Sometimes an intoxicated person may not have the ability to understand that they need to stop drinking, and a dram shop should not continue to serve alcohol to the point that it could cause harm.
Who Can Make a Dram Shop Claim in League City, TX?
When a dram shop contributes to damages, there are several parties who have the potential to make claim, including:
- Anyone injured in an incident caused by an intoxicated person, such as a drunk driving accident or fight.
- Owners of property that was damaged in a drink-related incident.
- Family members of someone who was killed in a drinking-related incident.
- Victims of drunk driving accidents such as drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.
- Sometimes the individual who had been drinking went on to cause damages, but usually only if they were under 21.
How Do You Prove That a Drunk Driver Was Overserved Alcohol?
It can be difficult to prove that a drunk driver was overseved alcohol at a dram shop. Just because someone is showing signs of intoxication at the scene of the accident does not necessarily mean that they were behaving in a certain way in the bar or restaurant.
In some states, dram shops are automatically responsible for drunk drivers who drank at their establishment. However, in Texas, the burden of proof is high, and it is necessary to prove that the venue served them when they were obviously intoxicated, to the point that they were a clear danger to themselves and others.
Your attorney will look to gather evidence to support your claim, which could include CCTV footage, a toxicologist report, and witness testimony. They will look for evidence to support that some of the following factors were present:
- Staggering, falling over, or holding themselves up with a wall or bar.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Slurred speech.
- Alcohol-smelling breath.
- The customer bought enough alcohol in the venue that an average person would be intoxicated.
- The bar staff was informed that the customer had been drinking.
League City Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Overserving alcohol is not a criminal act. However, it is negligent behavior. Negligence means that someone acts differently from how a reasonable person would act in a similar situation. For example, if someone drinks to the point that they are sick, and the bartender is aware that they were sick and serves them alcohol anyway, then this is negligent behavior. A reasonable person would not serve alcohol to someone who had recently been sick.
However, dram shops will do everything they can to try and avoid liability. Although there may be ways for them to try and limit their liability, you should still seek a free consultation from a law firm that will evaluate all your options for pursuing compensation.
Safe Harbor Defense
The Safe Harbor Defense is the most common avenue that dram shops take to try and reduce their liability. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) provides guidance and regulations for dram shops. If a dram shop can prove that they meet the standards required of them by the TABC and that their staff is up-to-date on all training, then they can use the Safe Harbor Defense, which basically claims that the incident was a one-off occurrence.
Social Host Exemption
In accordance with Texas dram shop laws, people who are hosting family or friends can not be held liable for the actions of their guests, even if they were overserved alcohol. However, if a guest is a minor who is not their own child, they could still be held liable for any damages they cause because they drank too much alcohol.
Types of Damages in a League City Dram Shop Claim
Calculating damages is one of the most important roles of an attorney. Some damages have a straightforward number attached to them, such as your medical bills. However, compensation for non-economic damages, such as the emotional impact of the incident, is not so easily won. A skilled League City dram shop lawyer will make sure that all of your damages are considered and that the settlement figure you ask for is difficult to challenge.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages include things such as emotional suffering, physical pain, and loss of enjoyment in life. For example, if you are left anxious about driving or unable to participate in a sport you once enjoyed, then you should be compensated for these things. An experienced attorney will understand how to evidence your pain and suffering damages and will maximize your chances of securing a fair settlement that is representative of your experiences.
If you had property damaged in an incident, such as your car in a DUI accident, then you should be compensated for the repair or replacement.
Lost Wages Past and Future
If you have suffered serious injuries, then it is likely that you have been left unable to work. You should be compensated for any lost wages, as well as the loss of future earnings.
Medical Expenses Past and Future
The United States is infamous for its high medical costs; hospital stays and ongoing treatment are expensive, as well as the indirect costs of medical treatment, such as getting to and from appointments, childcare, home adjustments, and more. All of this should be represented in your settlement, and if you require ongoing treatment, then your attorney will secure expert testimony to get an idea of what your future costs will be and how they will be covered.
Wrongful Death Damages
If you have lost a loved one to a wrongful death because of the actions of a dram shop, then you need to be compensated for both your economic and non-economic damages, including funeral expenses, loss of financial support, your pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
What Are League City Dram Shop Claims Worth?
Every dram shop claim is different, and the worth is determined by the number of damages involved and their worth. Other factors that can affect how much victims receive include the quality of their representation, how clear liability is, the impact the accident has on their lives, and the severity of their injuries.
At Abraham Watkins, we will use our 70 years of experience to evidence your damages and determine a high settlement figure that is hard to dispute. Often, having representation from a respected law firm means that insurance companies take you more seriously and are more likely to accept a higher settlement.
What Is The Process For Securing Compensation in Texas?
Every dram shop claim is different. However, they will generally follow the same steps for compensation:
The first step is your free consultation, where your attorney will decide whether you have a valid claim and what it could be worth.
If you decide to agree to representation, then your Texas dram shop attorney will get straight to work. They will investigate your case, speak to experts, and gather evidence.
Calculate a Fair Settlement Value
Your attorney will gather evidence that supports your damages to calculate a fair settlement value. They will then send this to the other party, which they could accept, counter-offer or decline.
If they accept, then you can move forward with your life without having to worry about medical bills, lost wages, or other damages.
Filing a Lawsuit
If they decline, then they may be some back and forth between opposing attorneys. You and your attorney may decide that your case needs to go to court in order for you to secure a fair settlement. If this happens, your attorney will be prepared to fight on your behalf in front of a judge.
How Much Will Legal Representation Cost Me?
At Abraham Watkins, we work on a contingency fee basis, otherwise known as no-win, no-fee. This means that we do not have any upfront costs and only receive a payment if your case is successful as a percentage of your final settlement. If for whatever reason, your case is not successful, we will not be paid anything.
Most people who secure high-quality representation will end up with more money, even after attorney fees are considered, thanks to an attorney’s skills.
How Do I Find The Best Dram Shop Lawyer in League City, TX?
If you are looking for a law firm in Texas, then you will have a lot to choose from; this can make the decision feel overwhelming, especially if you have never required an attorney before. Although a recommendation, Google searches, or ads could be a good place to start, it is important to do your research. High-quality representation could make the difference between you struggling financially and securing a settlement high enough to comfortably cover all of your damages.
We recommend looking at a law firm’s website for reviews and awards, which indicate that the firm is of high quality. It is also important that a personal injury law firm offers a free consultation to victims so that they can ask the questions they need to and assess whether they feel comfortable speaking to their attorney before agreeing to representation.
At Abraham Watkins, we have successfully represented numerous clients in Texas dram shop claims and are uniquely prepared to do the same for you. That is one of the many reasons why we have so many local, state, and national awards, such as ‘Best Law Firms 2022’ by U.S News.
Some questions you may want to ask in your consultation include:
- What is your fee structure?
- How much experience do you have with dram shop claims in Texas?
- Do you have experience representing dram shop victims in court?
- What percentage of my settlement will you take?
- Can I see testimonials from your previous clients?
- How can I contact you, and how soon can I expect a response from you?
Dram Shop Claim Deadlines in Texas
In Texas, dram shop liability has a statute of limitations of two years. That means you have just two years from the date the incident occurred to make a claim. Otherwise, you will lose your right to compensation. That may sound like a long time, but you should seek legal representation as quickly as possible. That way, evidence can be protected, and you will maximize your chances of securing high compensation.
League City Dram Shop Lawyer, FAQ
Do I really need an attorney?
After a serious injury, it is important that you can focus on your recovery, but seeking compensation on your own is stressful and time-consuming. Furthermore, dram shop liability is highly complex and difficult to prove. You will probably be up against large insurance companies and other attorneys, and when you have representation, you level the playing field and maximize your chances of securing compensation.
Who is the 3rd party in a dram shop Claim?
When you suffer injuries because of an intoxicated person, you may be able to file a dram shop claim with a third party. The dram shop (i.e. bar or restaurant) is the third party because although they did not directly cause your accident, they still behaved negligently.
Is compensation guaranteed?
Compensation in any dram shop or personal injury claim is never guaranteed. However, a firm that works on a contingency fee basis, such as Abraham Watkins, will only take on a case they believe to be successful. This is because if the case is unsuccessful, they will not receive anything for their services.
Is dram shop strict liability?
Dram shop liability is based on negligence, meaning that the individual who served alcohol acted differently from how a reasonable person would have in similar circumstances. This is different from strict liability, which is a standard of law in which someone is held responsible without fault or criminal intent.
Can I pursue a dram shop case without an attorney?
You can pursue a dram shop claim without legal representation. However, navigating the laws and evidencing your damages would be challenging. When you hire representation, you take the stress away from you and your family, and it is likely that you will end up with a larger settlement, thanks to your attorney’s skills.
How long do dram shop cases take to settle?
Dram shop claims can take months to years to settle. Factors such as the complexity of your case, how willing the other party is to settle, how clear liability is, the severity of your injuries and the quality of your representation will all have a big impact.
Contact a League City, TX Dram Shop Lawyer Today
Abraham Watkins has served Texas for over 70 years. Our experience, resources, and skills make us uniquely prepared to handle dram shop liability cases, which are notoriously complex.
We are one of the longest-serving law firms in the entire state and have a stellar reputation for winning cases for our clients. We pride ourselves on our track record for securing compensation for victims in even the most complex cases.
We have a stellar approach to the attorney-client relationship and will always look for the avenue that brings the most benefit to you. That means fighting for a quick settlement in straightforward cases and fighting aggressively on our client’s behalf for an extended amount of time if necessary.
We cover the entire of Texas from League City to Houston. Dram shop lawyers at Abraham Watkins are waiting for your call, so contact us today and arrange a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
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