Dram shop law allows victims or their families to sue the alcohol provider in Texas for the improper service of alcohol if the intoxicated person goes on to cause an accident that leads to damages.
That might sound relatively simple; however, proving liability in dram shop claims is a difficult task. If every alcohol provider was liable for all alcohol-related accidents, just because they served the alcohol, then they would be facing constant lawsuits.
Texas dram shop law tries to find a balance between placing responsibility on servers of alcohol and the drunk drivers themselves. There are many technicalities and nuances that can be tricky to understand. In fact, there are many personal injury attorneys in Texas who will not take on dram shop claims.
Fortunately, at Abraham Watkins, we have the experience and understanding necessary to handle even the most complex dram shop cases. We have served Texas for over 70 years, making us one of the longest-serving law firms in the state.
Our phone lines are open 24/7, and we offer a free consultation. So contact us today and get clarification about your case and how we can help. Speak to an experienced Rosenberg, TX, dram shop lawyer today at 713-535-9319.
Texas Dram Shop Laws
In Texas, a drunk driving accident occurs around 72 times every single day. The main goal of dram shop laws in Rosenberg, TX, is to curb the number of drunk driving accidents and prevent personal injury.
Although dram shop law is often spoken about as if it is a single statute, it is actually a collection of statutes regarding the improper service of alcohol. The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code provide details of the state’s dram shop and social host liability laws.
Claims Against Dram Shops
The most common Texas dram shop act violations are committed by dram shops themselves. A dram shop is a licensed provider of alcohol, such as a bar, hotel, restaurant, liquor store, airport, grocery store, and more.
A business needs an alcohol license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to sell alcohol. A dram shop can be sued for an alcohol-related injury or death if they:
- Serve alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21.
- Serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult.
If a dram shop serves alcohol to a minor and they go on to cause a drunk driving accident, then they can be liable for the damages caused, even the damages incurred by the drunk driver and their family. It is always negligence when a licensed establishment serves alcohol to a minor.
Dram shops can serve alcohol to adults unless they knew (or should have known) that the customer was already drunk. For example, if a bartender sells alcohol to an adult who was slurring their words and staggering, and that customer goes on to cause a DUI accident, then the bartender and the venue could be held liable for the damages suffered.
Dram Shop Claims Against Social Hosts
A social host is not a licensed provider. It is usually someone who throws a party at their house and provides alcohol. They can only be found liable for an accident caused by a minor who is not their own child.
Who Can File a Dram Shop Lawsuit in Rosenberg, TX?
If you are unsure about whether you have a dram shop claim, then contact a Rosenberg dram shop attorney at Abraham Watkins for a free consultation. We will evaluate your case and let you know whether we believe you have a claim.
Potential victims that may be owed damages in a Texas dram shop claim include:
- Victims of car accidents, fights or attacks caused by an intoxicated person who was sold too much alcohol.
- Family members of someone who died in a drunk driving accident.
- Owners of property damaged in an incident involving alcohol.
- Potentially the drunk driver themselves, but usually only if they were under 21.
- Relatives of an adult drunk driver who overserved alcohol at a dram shop.
What do I Need To Prove For a Successful Dram Shop Claim in Rosenberg, TX
In Texas, a dram shop claim is only possible if you can prove that the customer who was overserved alcohol at a dram shop was visibly intoxicated at the time and, therefore, a clear danger to themselves and others. That same customer must have then directly caused the incident that led to your damages, such as a drunk driving accident that left you with injuries.
Alternatively, if a dram shop served alcohol to a minor, or a social host provided alcohol to a minor that wasn’t their child, and they went on to cause an accident, then you only need to prove that the liable party provided them alcohol. You do not need to prove that the minor was obviously intoxicated.
Dram shop claims are based on negligence. This means that someone acted differently from how a reasonable person would in a similar scenario. For example, if a bartender serves alcohol to someone who can’t hold themselves upright, then this is negligence.
Proving that a licensed establishment acted negligently is challenging. They won’t usually admit fault. Instead, your attorney will need to find evidence that the customer was clearly intoxicated when they were provided more alcohol. Usually, evidence will include witness testimony, CCTV footage, and a toxicology report. Signs that someone has already had too much alcohol include:
- Slurred speech.
- Alcohol-smelling breath.
- Someone told the server that they had already been drinking.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Staggering or falling over.
- Being sick.
- Being aggressive.
- Using the wall or bar to hold themselves up.
- The customer had already been served a substantial amount of alcohol at the venue, enough that an average person would be drunk.
Rosenberg Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Even if you can prove that a dram shop behaved negligently, there are still avenues that an establishment could take to try to limit its liability. However, that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a claim against them, as an experienced dram shop attorney will be able to explore all of your options for compensation.
The most effective way for licensed establishments to limit their liability is by using the Safe Harbor Defense. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) provides guidance and training to dram shops that they can use to help keep their customers safe from harm.
In basic terms, the Safe Harbor Defense says that the dram shop has been following the guidance set out by the TABC and that their employees are otherwise up to date with all training. The overserving of alcohol was, therefore, an honest and one-off mistake. They must also prove that their staff were not encouraged or coerced into continuing to serve alcohol.
Deadlines For a Texas Dram Shop Claim
The statute of limitations sets a deadline to bring a claim against negligent parties. In Texas, you have just two years to bring a claim against a dram shop. After this, you will lose your right to claim compensation.
Although two years may sound like plenty of time, you should act quickly if you want to secure the maximum amount of compensation possible. This is because the sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can begin collecting evidence. Evidence is usually more concrete the sooner it is gathered after an incident. For example, witnesses’ memories could fade, CCTV could be deleted, car mechanic reports could be lost, and bars could look for ways to limit their liability.
Potential Damages in a Rosenberg Dram Shop Case
A dram shop attorney will be able to calculate your damages and evidence them in a way that is hard to dispute.
A serious incident with an intoxicated person could result in extensive property damage. If you were in a DUI accident, for example, you would have bills for vehicle repair or replacement. Another example could be an intoxicated person damaging your house or business establishment.
When you suffer a serious injury, you may be left unable to work, resulting in lost wages. Additionally, if you are unable to return to work for a long time, or if you are forced to change careers as a result of your accident, then you should be compensated for the loss of future earnings.
After a drunk driving accident, medical expenses are usually the biggest economic cost to victims. That includes hospital bills, physiotherapy, travel to and from appointments, and more. If you have ongoing injuries, then your attorney will also ensure that your future costs are considered, which could involve securing evidence from medical professionals about the extent of your injuries.
Pain and Suffering Damages
One of the benefits of hiring an attorney for your dram shop case is that they will ensure that your non-economic damages are considered, in addition to your economic damages. Non-economic damages are referred to as pain and suffering, and they include things such as physical pain, mental suffering, and loss of enjoyment in life.
For example, if your injuries have left you unable to play with your child, or you suffer from PTSD when you get in a car, these types of things should be compensated for.
Wrongful Death Damages
If you have lost a family member at the hands of an intoxicated person, then you could be owed wrongful death damages under a dram shop claim. Wrongful death damages cover funeral expenses, loss of income to a family household, and compensation for your pain and suffering.
No amount of money can make up for the suffering caused by the loss of a loved one. However, you should not be made to suffer financially because of someone else’s negligence. When you hire a dram shop attorney, they can take over the case on your behalf, so you can focus on yourself and your family.
Do I Really Need a Dram Shop Lawyer in Rosenberg, Texas?
If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, then you deserve to be compensated. An attorney will maximize your chances of receiving what you deserve.
The main reason people worry about hiring an attorney is the worry that they might end up worse off than before – if it costs them money and their case is unsuccessful, then they could be left in an even more difficult situation.
At Abraham Watkins, we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we take nothing upfront, and there are absolutely no hidden fees. Instead, we take a percentage of your settlement only if your case is successful. Even with this deduction considered, most people who have high-quality representation end up with a larger settlement, thanks to the skills and experience provided.
Another reason to consider representation is that going it alone is incredibly time-consuming and stressful, and after suffering a serious injury, your priority needs to be your recovery. Dram shop laws are complex, and you may be facing large insurance companies that will have a team of attorneys on their side. When you hire your own representation, you level the playing field.
What Is the Dram Shop Claim Process in Rosenberg, TX?
Every dram shop claim will have a unique element, and the process will be individual in each case. However, they tend to follow a similar framework.
When you contact us for a free consultation, we will assess your case based on the information you can provide to us. Your attorney will decipher whether they believe you have a valid claim, what its value could be, and what you should do next.
Following your free consultation, you are under no obligation to representation. You may decide to walk away with more knowledge than you had before.
Alternatively, you may decide to continue with representation. If you do, your dram shop attorney will get straight to work investigating your case. This will involve speaking to experts and gathering evidence. For example, they may gather witness testimony, medical reports, CCTV, toxicology reports, police reports, and more.
Determine Your Settlement Value
Now your attorney can determine a more accurate settlement figure based on the evidence they have collected. Once they have figured out what your case should be worth, they will send the figure, along with the evidence, to the insurance company.
At this point, the insurance company could accept the offer quickly, which will mean you can move forward with your life without having to worry about lost wages, medical bills, or vehicle repairs. Or they may make a counteroffer, which you and your attorney can review and decide whether it is sufficient to cover your damages and is representative of your suffering.
Filing a Lawsuit
If an agreement cannot be reached, then a court case could be necessary to secure the compensation you deserve. Court cases can be costly and expensive, so your attorney will only do this if they believe that it is in your best interests. Your attorney should have already built up substantial evidence to present in court.
How Do I Find The Best Dram Shop Lawyer in Rosenberg, TX?
When every law firm claims to be the best, it can be incredibly difficult to know how to begin your search. It is important to note that big impressive ads do not always equate to the best law firms. Although an ad, a recommendation, or a Google search is a good starting point, it is good to do a little research.
We recommend looking for reviews and awards and seeking free consultations so that you can ask questions and get a feel for your attorney. It is important that they are professional and friendly and that you feel comfortable speaking to them.
At Abraham Watkins, we believe that we are the right fit for any dram shop case in Texas. We have extensive experience representing clients successfully in dram shop claims and are prepared to do the same for you. That is one of the reasons why we have been awarded local, state, and national awards, including ‘Best Law Firms 2022’ by U.S News. All of our partners are board certified, and we have a proven track record of success, one of which we are very proud of.
But we want you to be confident as well, which is why we have compiled a quick list of questions that you may want to ask in a free consultation:
- What is your level of experience in dram shop cases in Texas?
- What is your level of experience representing victims of dram shop cases in court?
- Do you take an upfront fee?
- If I have questions, how quickly can I expect a response?
- What percentage of my settlement will you take?
- Can I see reviews from your previous clients?
Rosenberg Dram Shop Lawyer, FAQ
How much is my dram shop claim worth?
It is difficult to say how much your dram shop claim could be worth. It will depend on many factors, such as how severe your injuries are, how straightforward it is to prove liability, the quality of your representation, the impact on your life, and the evidence that is available.
When you contact us for a free consultation, we will evaluate your case and give you a rough idea of how much your case could be worth.
How long do dram shop cases take?
Dram shop cases vary widely. It could take a few months, two years, or maybe even more. It depends on the complexity of your case, the severity of your injuries, how difficult it is to prove liability, the quality of your representation, and how willing the at-fault party is to settle.
Should I speak with an insurance adjuster?
It is important to remember that insurance companies prioritize profit. You may be contacted by an insurance company that claims to want to know how you are doing or other matters that appear harmless. However, insurance adjusters are trained to try and get you to say things to limit their liability or devalue your claim. You should never say that you feel ok or admit fault in any way. The best thing to do is to ask them to liaise with your attorney.
Contact a Rosenberg, TX Dram Shop Lawyer Today
Dram shop cases are never straightforward. You need an attorney that you can trust to do what it takes to secure the compensation you deserve.
As one of the longest-serving law firms in the state of Texas, we know when to push for a quick settlement and when to go the distance to secure the best settlement possible.
Our approach to the attorney-client relationship is unparalleled. We will keep you informed every step of the way while handling the entire legal process so that you can focus on your recovery.
If you believe that you are entitled to claim compensation in a dram shop claim in Rosenberg, TX, then look no further. The sooner you contact us, the better, as we will get to work immediately to preserve evidence and build a strong case, one that will be difficult to argue against.Call today and arrange a free consultation with an experienced dram shop attorney. Our phone lines are always open, so call us now at 713-535-9319!
We offer a free consultation to prospective clients. If you have been injured and wish to speak to one of our attorneys in a no-cost consultation, please call us at (713) 222-7211. or toll free at 713-222-7211
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