Dram shop laws in Texas give drink-related accident victims and their families the right to sue alcohol providers if they fail in their duty of care to their customers. For example, if an intoxicated person is over-served alcohol in a bar and they go on to cause a DUI accident, then the venue may be liable for any resulting injuries.
The goal of Texas dram shop law is to find a balance between placing responsibility on individuals and those who serve alcohol, so that everyone is encouraged to make smart decisions. The statistics for drunk driving accidents in Texas are shocking and account for around 24% of all traffic-related deaths. Dram shop laws aim to tackle this problem from all angles.
Contact Abraham Watkins Today
Proving liability in a dram shop claim is no easy task. If alcohol providers were liable for every accident caused by their customers, then they would face constant lawsuits. Furthermore, it is important that intoxicated persons are held accountable for their actions, especially those that choose to drive their cars.
There are many technicalities that are challenging to navigate; in fact, many personal injury lawyers will not attempt dram shop claims. Fortunately, Abraham Watkins has the skills and experience necessary to represent clients in even the most complex dram shop cases.
Our law firm is one of the longest serving in the state, having represented victims for over 70 years. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. That means that our fee is taken as a percentage of your eventual settlement, and if your case does not succeed, it will not cost you anything.
Our phone lines are also open 24/7, so you can seek advice when you need it most. Speak to an experienced dram shop lawyer today at 713-535-9319.
Why Are Dram Shops Responsible For Their Customers?
Holding an alcohol provider responsible for the person who committed the act’s actions can be an area of contention. We often get asked how a restaurant or bar can be liable for their customer’s actions. The answer is that they are not. They are only responsible for their own conduct.
Alcohol providers have a duty to act responsibly when they serve alcohol. For example, imagine that a young person is out for their birthday, and lots of people are buying them alcohol. They can’t walk straight and are not making any sense when they speak. Due to the effect that alcohol has on decision-making ability, they are no longer fully responsible for their actions.
While that person may not understand that they need to stop drinking, those who are serving alcohol should know to refuse service. If they knowingly and willingly serve alcohol to the point where it causes harm, then their actions could be considered negligent.
In order to be able to serve alcohol, venues must have a license that holds them to certain standards. Just as a medical professional’s license to practice medicine holds them to high standards, so too does an alcohol license. It is essential that we hold dram shops to these standards.
Texas Dram Shop Act
One of the main goals of dram shop laws is to curb the number of drunk driving accidents, which occur around 72 times a day in Texas. It aims to discourage dram shops, which are venues that serve alcohol, from serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated patrons.
Dram shop law is often spoken about as if it is a single act, but it is actually a series of statutes regarding the proper service of alcohol.
Claims Against Dram Shops
The most common Texas dram shop violations are committed by licensed providers of alcohol. Before a venue can sell alcohol, they need a license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
If a dram shop sells alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult or to any person under the legal drinking age of 21, and that customer goes on to cause an accident, then they could be found liable for any damages that result.
Dram Shop Claims Against Social Hosts
It is not only licensed alcohol providers who can be found liable under dram shop laws. A social host, which is usually someone who gives alcohol to friends at their own house, could also be found liable if they serve alcohol to a minor who is not their own child and they go on to cause an accident.
A social host cannot be held responsible for the actions of their adult guests.
Who Can Claim Damages Under Texas Dram Shop Laws?
People who may be able to claim compensation in a dram shop claim include:
- Relatives of an adult who was harmed after being over-served alcohol at a dram shop.
- Anyone injured in an accident involving an intoxicated person who was over-served alcohol at a dram shop, including victims of DUI accidents.
- Family members of someone who was injured or killed in a drink-related incident.
- Owners of property that was damaged in an alcohol-related incident such as a drunk driving accident.
- The drunk person themselves, but usually only if they were under the legal drinking age.
If you think you might have an Alvin, TX dram shop claim, then you should contact a dram shop attorney who can evaluate your case and tell you whether they believe you have a valid claim.
How Do I Prove a Dram Shop Claim Against an Alcohol Provider in Alvin, TX?
In order to make a successful claim against a dram shop, you will need to prove that the adult who caused your damages was over-served alcohol. Damages caused could include medical bills, property damages, pain and suffering, compensation for wrongful death, and more.
However, if your damages were caused by a minor, then you need only prove that they were served alcohol; you do not need to prove that they were obviously intoxicated.
A successful dram shop claim requires that you prove that someone behaved negligently. Negligence is behavior that is different from how a reasonable person would behave in similar circumstances. For example, if a bartender serves alcohol to someone they know to have recently been sick, then this is negligence.
Proving negligence can be difficult, and your attorney will need to find evidence that the individual who caused your damages was obviously intoxicated. Evidence could include CCTV, witness testimony, and a toxicology report. Signs of intoxication include:
- Alcohol-smelling breath.
- Red or tired-looking eyes.
- Struggling to stand upright or walk straight.
- Falling over.
- Being sick.
- Someone told the server that they had already drank a substantial amount.
- Acting aggressively.
- Slurred speech.
- The customer had already consumed enough alcohol on the premises, enough that an average person would be intoxicated.
Deadlines For a Dram Shop Claim in Alvin, TX
In Texas, you have a limited amount of time to bring a claim against a dram shop, known as the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years, after which time you lose your right to compensation.
If you want to secure the maximum amount of compensation, then it is always best to act quickly. The sooner you act, the better chance you have of evidence being protected and your claim being successful.
Alvin Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Establishing negligence and filing a claim within the set time limit may not be enough for a successful claim. Dram shops have potential defenses which they may try to use to protect themselves from liability.
The most common defense is the Safe Harbor Defense, which claims that the overserving of alcohol was an honest and one-off mistake. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) makes training available to dram shops to educate their staff on how to serve alcohol safely. If a dram shop can prove that their safe ate up to date on all training and that they generally follow the guidance set out by the TABC, then they can use the Safe Harbor Defense.
Alvin, TX Dram Shop Lawyer, FAQ
How much could I receive in a dram shop claim?
The value of your claim will depend on many things, such as how clear liability is, the impact on your life, how severe your injuries are, and the quality of your representation. The only way to find out is to contact a dram shop lawyer who can assess your individual case.
How long do dram shop cases take to settle?
Every case is unique. Some take a few months and others years. At Abraham Watkins, we will fight for a quick settlement where possible but are also willing to go the distance to pursue what you deserve.
Who is the 3rd party in a dram shop case?
Dram shop claims are not brought against the individual who directly caused your damages, such as a drunk driver. Instead, they are brought against the third party who indirectly contributed to the harm caused, such as a dram shop.
Contact Abraham Watkins Today!
Dram shop claims are highly complex, and you need an attorney who you can trust to do everything possible to get justice in your case.
At Abraham Watkins, we take a personalized approach to the attorney-client-relationship. We will keep you informed and will take over the entire legal process so that you can focus on your recovery.
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