Abraham Watkins has served personal injury victims for over 70 years, making us one of the longest-serving law firms in Texas. We are uniquely prepared to handle dram shop claims and are committed to securing maximum compensation for victims.
A dram shop is a venue that serves alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, and clubs. Dram shop laws place certain legal responsibilities on these venues to help keep people safe from the effects of alcohol. One of the main goals of these laws is to try and reduce the sheer number of drunk driving accidents that take place in Texas, which occur roughly 72 times each day!
If you or someone you love has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to claim damages against the dram shop that served the at fault driver.
However, you may be facing large insurance companies, and venues who will fight aggressively to limit their liability. The best thing you can do is hire an experienced Manvel dram shop attorney to fight for compensation on your behalf.
Our phone lines are open 24/7, so if you need legal advice, then contact us today for a free consultation with a Texas dram shop lawyer at 713-535-9319.
Texas Dram Shop Laws
Manvel, TX, is governed by The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. This statute places responsibility on third parties who contribute to drunk driving accidents, even though they are not physically present when the accidents occur.
One of the most common reasons for dram shop claims is where a venue serves a patron too much alcohol, even when they are visibly intoxicated.
Other dram shop law violations include:
- Encouraging a visibly intoxicated person to continue drinking.
- Serving alcohol to a patron under the legal drinking age of 21.
- Allowing a visibly intoxicated person to enter their vehicle.
- Overserving alcohol to the point that it creates a substantial risk of death.
- Serving alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
- Continuing to serve alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated.
If any of these violations contribute to a drunk driving accident, then the dram shop can be held liable for the damages suffered by victims. In a free consultation, your Manvel TX dram shop attorney can determine whether they believe you have a valid claim.
Drunk Driving Victims
Alcohol has a dramatic effect on the central nervous system, which slows reaction time, reduces judgment, and increases the chance that a driver falls asleep at the wheel.
If a person drives while intoxicated and comes across a hazard, they stand little chance of spotting it, or if they do, they may not be able to react appropriately.
Due to the potential for erratic behavior, drunk driving accidents are often severe. Head-on collisions or collisions at speed are more likely, and these factors can lead to serious injuries for victims. When this happens, it is essential that victims are not made to suffer financially as a result.
Who Can Make a Dram Shop Claim in Manvel, TX?
A Texas dram shop attorney can help victims of drunk driving accidents and their families to claim damages against establishments that have acted negligently.
Parties who can pursue a dram shop claim include:
- Family members of a victim who died in a drunk driving accident.
- All victims of drunk driving accidents if the driver was overserved alcohol at a dram shop.
- Relatives of the drunk driver who was overserved alcohol.
- Owners of property damaged in the DUI accident.
- Sometimes the drunk driver themselves, but usually only if they were under the legal drinking of age of 21.
Who is Liable Under Texas Dram Shop Law?
Victims of drunk driving accidents can often make a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. However, sometimes this is not possible, or the amount you receive in damages is insufficient. For example, the driver may have had insufficient insurance coverage; it may not be enough to cover your damages.
Fortunately, your potential to claim compensation doesn’t end with the driver. A dram shop should not serve alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated persons; if they do and that person goes on to cause a drunk driving accident, then the venue could be liable for your damages.
Both the establishment owners and the servers of alcohol, such as bartenders, can be held liable for the damages they cause by over-serving.
A Manvel dram shop lawyer will work to determine fault between the defendant driver and the dram shop.
What Must Be Proven in a Dram Shop Claim in Manvel, TX?
In some states, a dram shop is automatically liable for any injuries caused by a drunk driver if they sold too much alcohol. However, in Texas, the burden of proof is higher. To make a dram shop claim, your attorney will need to prove that the customer they sold alcohol to was obviously intoxicated. Therefore they should have known that they were serving alcohol to a patron who was a risk to themselves or others.
Texas law also does not require dram shops to carry Liquor Liability Insurance coverage. This can make navigating a dram shop claim complex if you lack the necessary experience and knowledge.
Proving that a bar or restaurant over-served alcohol can be challenging; it is very unlikely that they will simply admit fault. Instead, your attorney will work to provide evidence of overserving through a retained toxicologist CCTV footage, or witness testimony. The evidence could include:
- The patron’s eyes were bloodshot.
- They were slurring their speech.
- The customer’s breath smelled of alcohol.
- Someone informed the server that the customer had been drinking.
- The customer consumed enough alcohol in the establishment that an average person would be intoxicated.
- The patron was staggering or falling over.
Manvel Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Overserving alcohol is considered negligence. Negligence is a legal term that is used to describe a behavior that is different from how a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances. So if a bartender serves alcohol to someone who is unsteady on their feet and slurring their words, then this is negligence.
However, there are possible defenses to dram shop claims that people can use to limit their liability. That being said, you should always contact a law firm who can assess your case in a free consultation; even if one of these defenses applies to your case, there may still be an avenue to compensation.
Social Host Exemption
In Texas, people who are hosting family or friends cannot be held liable under dram shop laws if their guest goes on to cause a DUI accident. However, if a guest is a minor who is not their own child, then they could still be liable.
Safe Harbor Defense
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) provides guidance to venues that serve alcohol to limit the potential for harm. If a dram shop can prove that they have abided by these regulations and that they have provided full and up-to-date training to their employers, they may be able to use the Safe Harbor Defense.
Securing Compensation in a Manvel, TX Dram Shop Claim
One of the important roles your dram shop attorney fulfills is calculating your damages, evidencing what you are owed, and securing a good settlement in your case. While some damages, like your property damage, are easily evidenced through receipts, other damages, such as those relating to your physical pain, are not easy to calculate.
Lost Wages Past and Future
Following a car accident, you will probably have to take time off work, which could result in lost wages. If your injuries require ongoing treatment, they may prevent you from returning to work, and so you should also be compensated for future wages or loss of earning potential.
Medical Expenses Past and Future
Medical bills and expenses quickly accumulate, from hospital stays, physiotherapy, traveling to and from the hospital, childcare, and more. If you have ongoing or life-long injuries, you should also be compensated for your future expenses. An attorney will seek testimony from medical professionals to evidence your claims.
A serious accident will result in vehicle repair or replacement, and there may have been damage to anything that was in your car when the accident occurred, such as your phone or laptop. Keep a record of all your costs so that you can be properly compensated.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Following an accident, you are dealing with a lot more than medical bills and property repairs. You may also be left with physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life if you are left unable to participate in activities you once enjoyed.
These non-economic damages are known as pain and suffering. They are not so easily quantified or evidenced, but an experienced attorney will maximize your chances of receiving a fair amount.
Punitive damages are awarded by the court in circumstances where a defendant acts with recklessness or gross negligence; they are designed to punish them rather than compensate the victim. A dram shop cannot be held liable for punitive damages in Texas.
Wrongful Death Damages
You should be compensated if you have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident. A dram shop claim could result in compensation for your economic losses, such as funeral expenses and the loss of their income to your family household, and non-economic damages for your pain and suffering, including the loss of support and companionship.
What To Do After a Drunk Driving Accident in Manvel, Texas
After a DUI accident, there are steps you should take to protect your right to claim compensation. Our phone lines are open 24/7, so if you need any guidance, then don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Check For Injuries
It might be tempting to act fast after the shock of a car accident. However, it is important that you take a moment to check yourself for injuries. If you find it difficult to move or are experiencing pain in your neck or back, you should remain still and wait for paramedics to help.
Only once you have determined that you are safe to move should you check others for injuries. First, everyone in your vehicle, and then everyone else. If anyone has suffered an injury, then you should call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive.
Stay At The Scene
As required by law, you must remain at the scene of a car accident until the police arrive and tell you that you can leave (if they are called), or if the police are not required, then you can leave once you have swapped information with the other driver and affected parties. However, you may wish to move to somewhere safe if you are in danger from oncoming vehicles.
Call The Police
Legally you must call the police to the scene of an accident that has resulted in injury or property damage exceeding $1000. The police officer will fill out a police report which will be essential for your dram shop case.
However, even if these factors do not apply, if you suspect that the other driver is intoxicated, then you should call the police regardless. They will determine if they are over the limit and prevent them from continuing to drive and potentially causing more harm.
If your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, then you should gather evidence from the scene. This could include photos of the scene, including property damage and injuries, and anything else of relevance. You should also ask any witnesses for their contact information and exchange name, contact, and vehicle information with the other driver. All of this can be used by your attorney to strengthen your case.
Seek a Medical Examination
If paramedics do not provide medical attention at the scene of the accident, then you should seek an examination as soon as possible. There are two reasons why this is important. Firstly, adrenaline could be masking even serious injuries, and if you are not aware of them, then you could unknowingly make them worse.
Secondly, your medical examination will be necessary to make a dram shop claim, as it will evidence your damages. The sooner, the better, as it will be easier to prove that your injuries were directly caused by the DUI accident.
Speak to Your Insurance Company
Your insurance policy may set a time limit for you to let them know you have been in a car accident. However, you should keep the details vague and never admit fault in any way or do anything to limit your claim.
You may have to speak to skilled insurance adjusters whose job it is to limit your claim. They might try to get you to say something you don’t mean, such as that you feel ok or that you were distracted or tired when the accident occurred. Insurance companies have one goal, and that is profit, and these tactics are designed to reduce their liability and payouts.
When you secure representation from Abraham Watkins, we will take over all correspondence with insurance companies on your behalf. So if your insurance company has questions for you, simply tell them that your attorney will contact them.
Hire a Manvel, TX Dram Shop Attorney
When you contact a dram shop attorney at Abraham Watkins, you maximize your chances of fair compensation. We will start investigating right away by gathering medical records, CCTV, police reports, witness statements, mechanical reports, and more.
We will work tirelessly to secure fair compensation and will always be prepared to litigate a dram shop lawsuit in court if necessary.
Do I Really Need a Dram Shop Lawyer in Manvel, TX?
You deserve to be compensated for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. One of the main reasons people put off hiring a dram shop attorney is the worry that it might cost them too much.
However, Abraham Watkins works on a contingency fee basis. That means that you don’t have to pay us anything upfront, and if your case does not result in compensation, you will not owe us anything. Instead, we take our fee as a percentage of your settlement and only if your case succeeds.
Even with the cost of an attorney, most victims who secure representation result in higher amounts of compensation due to the skills that an attorney provides.
Seeking compensation alone is stressful and time-consuming, and after suffering a DUI accident, your priority should be your recovery.
Dram shop laws are complex, and you may be up against experienced attorneys working for large insurance companies, but when you secure representation, you level the playing field. Often insurance companies are more likely to offer a good settlement if they know you have an experienced dram shop attorney fighting on your behalf.
What Is my Dram Shop Claim Worth?
Dram shop claims usually involve multiple damages, and each claim is unique. The value of your claim will depend on the severity of your injuries, the impact on your life, how clear the liability is, and the quality of your representation.
While economic damages will have a physical number attached to them, such as the cost to repair your car or the value of your medical bills, others will not. Non-economic damages, such as your emotional suffering, will need an attorney who can calculate your damages in a way that is hard to dispute.
When your damages have been calculated, your attorney will send the suggested settlement figure to the other party, at which point they may accept. If a settlement cannot be reached, then your attorney will be prepared to litigate on your behalf in court.
What Is the Compensation Process in Manvel, TX?
Each dram shop claim is unique. However, they tend to follow the same framework:
The first step is to evaluate your case and the evidence available. Your attorney will assess your case in your free evaluation and determine whether you have a valid claim, what it could be worth, and what your next steps should be.
After your free consultation, you may decide to walk away armed with more knowledge than you had before. Or you may decide to agree to representation. If you do, your dram shop attorney will get straight to work. They will gather more evidence and speak to experts such as medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, and more. Your attorney will also seek out witnesses from the venue that served alcohol to the drunk driver.
Calculate a Fair Compensation Value
Your dram shop attorney will assess your damages and will calculate what you should be asking for in your settlement. They will then send this to the insurance company, which may accept, counter-offer, or decline.
If they accept, then you will be able to move forward with your life without worrying about mounting medical bills, lost wages, or property damage.
Filing a Lawsuit
If they decline, a court case may be necessary to secure what you owe. Your dram shop lawyer will fight on your behalf using the evidence they have collected.
Deadlines For a Dram Shop Claim in Texas
In Texas, you have just two years from the date of your accident to make a dram shop claim. Once this deadline has been exceeded, you will lose your right to compensation. Two years may sound like a long time, but you should secure representation as soon as possible to protect evidence.
How Do I Find a Good Dram Shop Lawyer in Manvel, TX
Across Texas, you will find a lot of personal injury law firms that claim to be the best team to take on your case. That can make finding a skilled dram shop lawyer feel daunting.
When searching for the right match, here is what we advise:
- Flashy ads are not always representative of high-quality law firms. While a Google search, a recommendation, or an ad could be a good place to start, be sure to look at independent reviews.
- Most personal injury law firms will offer a free consultation. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and to determine whether you get on with your potential attorney. It is important that you feel comfortable speaking to them and do not feel judged in any way.
Some good questions to ask in your free consultation are:
- How much experience do you have handling dram shop cases in Texas?
- Have you navigated cases similar to mine in the past?
- How much experience do you have representing dram shop victims in court?
- What percentage of my settlement will you take, and are there any additional fees?
- Can you show me testimonials from previous clients?
- How can I contact you, and how quickly can I expect a response?
Manvel Dram Shop Lawyer, FAQ
Who is the 3rd party in a dram shop liability lawsuit?
In a dram shop case, the dram shop (i.e. the bar, restaurant or other establishment), that served alcohol to the drunk driver who caused the accident is the third party. The dram shop is the third party because although they were not at the scene when the accident occurred, they may still be held liable.
How long do dram shop cases take to settle?
Dram shop cases can take a few months, or they may take years to settle. It will depend on things such as how clear liability is, how willing the at-fault party is to settle, the complexity of your case and severity of your injuries.
Is compensation guaranteed?
Compensation in a dram shop liability case is never guaranteed, and any firm that claims otherwise should be avoided. However, if your attorney works on a contingency fee basis, like those at Abraham Watkins, then they will assess your case, and they will only take it on if they believe you have a good chance of success. This is because your attorney only takes a fee if your case is successful.
Is dram shop strict liability?
Dram shop laws in Texas establish liability on negligence which means that the person who served alcohol did not act as a reasonable person would have when they served alcohol to a clearly intoxicated customer. This is different from strict liability, which places legal responsibility on the defendant without fault or criminal intent.
Can I pursue a dram shop claim without an attorney?
While it is possible to pursue a dram shop claim without an attorney, it will be difficult to navigate state laws and prove that a dram shop was responsible for your damages. Hiring an attorney not only makes the process much easier for you and your family, but thanks to their experience and reputation, victims often end up with a larger settlement, even when attorney fees are considered.
Dealing with insurance adjusters, the other parties’ attorneys, legal paperwork and deadlines, and gathering sufficient evidence to prove your claim is an overwhelming task if you do not have experience dealing with Texas dram shop cases. We offer a free consultation and a no-win-no-fee option, so you have nothing to lose by seeking legal representation.
Should I speak with an insurance adjuster?
Insurance companies are big businesses, and their top priority is profit, which means paying you as little as possible. Insurance adjusters may offer you a deal that seems good, or they may record conversations that seem straightforward but are actually being used to try and get you to say something to devalue your claim. The best thing you can do is inform them that you wish for them to liaise with your attorney.
Contact a Manvel, TX Dram Shop Lawyer Today
When it comes to a Manvel dram shop case, you need an attorney that you can trust. At Abraham Watkins, our esteemed law firm has served victims of personal injury in Texas for over 70 years.
We are one of the longest-serving law firms in the state and have a strong reputation for winning cases for our clients and for our stellar approach to the attorney-client relationship. We pride ourselves on our track record of winning favorable outcomes for even the most complex cases.
We can fight for a quick settlement if your case is simple, but we will also fight aggressively on your behalf for an extended amount of time if that’s what your case requires.
If you believe that you have grounds for a dram shop case in Texas, then contact us as soon as possible. This will give us ample time to uncover evidence to build a strong case on your behalf, one that is incredibly difficult to argue against.Contact Abraham Watkins today and arrange a free consultation with an experienced dram shop lawyer. Our phone lines are open 24/7 so call us now at 713-535-9319!
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