Baytown, TX has laws that place responsibility on any venue that serves alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. These venues, classified as “dram shops” are expected to keep an eye on revelers, and ensure that they are not sold too much alcohol when they are already visibly intoxicated. This responsibility is designed to reduce the worrying number of drunk driving accidents that take place in the state of Texas.
Unfortunately, when venues that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, and neglect their duty of care to customers, it can lead to tragedy.
The statistics speak for themselves. Each day, a drunk driving accident occurs every 20 minutes in Texas and due to their nature, the chances of fatality and serious injuries are high.
At Abraham Watkins, we have a stellar reputation, built from our many years of service and long history of victories. Our goal is to offer our services to any victim, no matter their circumstances. For this reason, we offer a free consultation to new clients and if you want us to provide representation, we will do it on a no-win-no-fee basis.
We are skilled and experienced in dealing with all of the intricacies of Texas dram shop law. Through our many years of service, we have fought and won numerous dram shop liability cases, giving us an advantage when it comes to building the best possible case on your behalf.
Call us today to arrange a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
The Reason For Dram Shop Laws
There is a reason why dram shop laws and drunk driving laws are in place.
Under the influence of alcohol, drivers have poor judgment, slow reaction times, and are more likely to engage in dangerous driving. This leads to a drastically increased chance of causing an accident that could ruin a life or steal a loved one from their family forever.
Slowed reaction times mean that a drunk driver will take longer to brake, longer to spot a hazard, and longer to swerve or maneuver out of the way if they do at all.
These impairments mean that when an accident happens, it usually happens in a more head-on fashion at a higher speed than a normal car accident.
What to Do After a DUI Accident in Baytown, TX
The aftermath of a drunk driving accident may be a chaotic affair, but remembering the following steps will ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of seeking maximum compensation.
Here are the steps to follow for the best chances of success in a dram shop claim.
Stay on the Scene
Always remain on the scene of the accident if possible, especially if it was caused by a driver who was under the influence. If you leave the scene, the driver may be able to leave the scene without receiving a blood alcohol test.
Check for Injuries Caused by The Accident
If you know that you have hit your head or injured your back, you need to remain still and inform anyone who comes to move you that you need to wait for the emergency services as you may have a serious injury.
If you feel confident you have not hurt your back or head, you can check yourself for other injuries and check other parties for injuries so you can inform the emergency services. This will allow them to treat the people who need immediate attention first.
Call an Ambulance
If there are any injuries whatsoever, we advise you to call for an ambulance. It is always better to be over-cautious and remember that certain injuries, TBIs, and internal bleeding, for example, may not have any visible signs or symptoms but can still prove fatal if left untreated.
The ambulance team will also file a report regarding the accident and this report can be accessed by your attorney and used as evidence in your case.
Call for Police Assistance
It’s always a good idea to call the police at the scene of a car accident. They are trained and prepared to deal with oncoming traffic diversion and their presence often calms down the situation.
In an accident involving a drunk driver, it becomes even more important as they will administer a blood alcohol test and the result of this test is crucial to your case.
Following a drunk driving accident, dram shop cases are going to require evidence in order for you to successfully raise a claim. This means that any evidence you can collect on the scene of the accident will be incredibly valuable. Some good ways to collect evidence include:
- Take photos and videos of the crash scene.
- Drawing a sketch of what happened.
- Speaking to witnesses and collecting their information and statements.
- Write down your own statement of what happened in your own words.
Go to the Hospital
We recommend that you head straight to the hospital if you did not need medical attention on the scene. The shock of an accident can cover up symptoms of injuries and if you have internal bleeding or head trauma, you may not realize it until too late.
The hospital will be able to check you over for injuries and will also serve another purpose. When your attorney comes to building a medical timeline of your bills and treatment, this will serve as the first recorded medical attention you have received.
Notify your Insurance Company
Your insurance company will need to be notified at some point as you might need access to medical aid. When you speak to them, however, you should remember that they are not truly on your side. Do not say anything that could be seen as an admission of liability.
While your insurance company might seem helpful to begin with, as your bills increase, they will probably become less so.
It can be a good idea to ask them to liaise with your attorney going forwards.
Hire a Baytown TX Dram Shop Lawyer
In order for your attorney to have the best possible chance of building you a case that will result in the maximum compensation, you should get in touch with them as soon as possible.
The more time you give them, the more evidence they will be able to unearth. They may be able to find evidence that could be destroyed if you delay.
As soon as you have agreed to representation from an attorney who is well versed in Texas dram shop laws, you will be able to take a step back and focus on your health and mental wellbeing. They will take over all aspects of the claim, such as filing paperwork, investigating, and speaking to insurance companies.
Do I Qualify for a Dram Shop Claim in Baytown, TX?
Drunk driving victims may be able to recover compensation with a dram shop lawsuit if the venue is found to have acted negligently. This can include both the intoxicated driver, other victims, and families who have experienced the death of a loved one.
If you are unsure if you meet the requirements to raise a dram shop claim, your best option is always going to be to take advantage of a free consultation from an experienced and capable attorney that is well versed in the dram shop laws that govern the state of Texas.
A personal injury lawyer that regularly deals with drunk driving accidents will be able to answer any questions you have and evaluate your case. They will inform you if your case is worth pursuing and if it is, they will be able to advise you on the next steps you need to take.
When is a Venue Liable for Overserving Alcohol to an Intoxicated Person in Texas?
The Texas Dram Shop Act applies to all venues in the state of Texas that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises. It places responsibility on bartenders and their employers to refuse service to customers if they are obviously intoxicated.
This means they may be found liable for the victim’s damages 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 accident.
The Safe Harbor Defense to Dram Shop Liability
There is a defense that can be used by employers if their bartenders have over-served a customer. It is called the Safe Harbor Defense and to be utilized, there are certain requirements:
- An employer must be able to show, with evidence, that they have given a certain training course designed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This course was designed to provide an education to bartenders on the potential consequences of overserving alcohol to patrons.
- The defense cannot be used if it is found that the employer encouraged their bartender to serve the patron when they were planning to refuse service.
For more details on this defense, refer to 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Is the Average Settlement for Dram Shop Claims in Baytown, TX?
Just like with any personal injury case, the amount of compensation on offer will depend entirely upon the level of damages the victim suffered and the level of liability of the dram shop.
The damages you may be entitled to recover will be split into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Your economic damages are any damages you have suffered that have cost a set amount of money. Medical bills and property damages are the main damages that fall under economic damages. These can be added up and backed up with supporting documentation, like receipts and invoices.
Your non-economic damages are all the damages you have suffered that cannot be quantified with a physical price. These damages will cover your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. If you have suffered from mental distress and have developed a fear of driving or a fear of being on the road, this should be compensated.
You should also be compensated if you have suffered from a loss of enjoyment of life. If your injuries mean that you can no longer go camping or bowling, for example, this means you have suffered a loss of enjoyment of life.
Your attorney will have the task of calculating both forms of damages. Often, they will add up your economic damages and then multiply it depending upon how severe your pain and suffering and other non-economic damages are.
Once they have done this, they will have a figure that they will send in a settlement offer to the at-fault parties’ insurance. If calculated accurately, they may choose to accept if the offer is fair and reasonable.
If they choose not to accept, your attorney will use their calculations and the case they have built on your behalf to argue that you are deserving of the compensation you are seeking in court.
Call a Baytown TX Dram Shop Lawyer Today
With any personal injury case, your best plan of action should always begin with employing a skilled attorney that has a full understanding of Texas law and previous victories in similar cases.
Seeking any form of compensation following a wrongful death incident or a serious injury caused by a drunk driver is a complex affair, and without a reputable dram shop lawyer behind you, you may fail to win the compensation you rightfully deserve.
To seek compensation for wrongful death or a serious injury under the laws of the state is a complex process, and without the right wrongful death attorney representing you, you may struggle to win what you deserve or even win your case at all.
Call Abraham Watkins Today!
When a patron is over-served alcohol when they are already intoxicated to the point they should be refused service, and they are allowed to enter their vehicle unchallenged, they become a serious risk to other road users.
If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, or someone you loved has been seriously injured or killed, our team of dram shop liability lawyers is ready to help. We can investigate the series of events that led to the accident, and if it is found that the driver had been drinking at a venue that is governed by the state’s dram shop liability laws, we can help you raise a case against the venue.
Our esteemed law firm has been representing personal injury victims in Texas for over 70 years. We will strive for a settlement quickly if your case is straightforward, but will also go the distance for more complex cases.
We are dedicated to the attorney-client relationship and will keep you informed from start to finish. Our phone lines are manned 24/7.Call us at 713-535-9319 and arrange a free consultation today!
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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