Drink driving is a serious problem in the state of Texas. In fact, every 20 minutes there is a serious collision involving a driver that is under the influence. That equates to three accidents every hour.
Paired with the fact that drunk driving accidents, due to their nature, carry a drastically increased risk of serious injury and fatality, it is fair to say that drunk driving is a serious issue for people in Texas.
If you have been involved in a car accident, and you suspect that the driver was drunk, you may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered.
Here at Abraham Watkins, our team of dedicated dram shop liability attorneys are ready to take your case. We have been serving the state of Texas for over 70 years, making us one of Texas’s longest-serving law firms. Specializing in personal injury cases, we have won favorable outcomes for numerous clients in similar cases to yours.
Contact our law firm today at 713-535-9319 to arrange a free consultation with a DWI lawyer.
What Are Dram Shop Laws?
In an attempt to curb DUI numbers, on June 12, 1986, the state of Texas introduced a set of laws known as dram shop liability laws. These laws govern the entire state of Texas, including Galena Park, Houston, and Sugarland. These laws place responsibility on each and every dram shop in the state.
Dram shops, named after the single measure of alcohol, a “dram” are defined as any venue or premise that serves alcohol to its patrons, for consumption on the premises. Following the matter of El Chico v. Poole, The Texas Supreme Court decided that every dram shop and bar across the state of Texas has a duty of care to its customers and a duty to refuse customers service when they are obviously and visibly intoxicated.
Following this ruling, if a dram shop serves a customer who is visibly intoxicated, and that customer is then allowed to enter their car, the venue may be found liable if that customer goes on to cause a drunk driving accident.
Dram Shop Injuries
When under the influence of alcohol, a driver’s reaction time is severely reduced and their judgment is often clouded.
This means that where a normal sober driver may spot a hazard early, and deploy evasive maneuvers, a driver under the influence will not. They may fail to see the hazard and fail to break on time, if at all.
Ultimately, these impairments mean that a drunk driver has a drastically increased risk of causing a drunk driving accident that results in the tragic wrongful death or life-changing injury of an innocent victim.
Nobody should lose a loved one or have their life changed forever because of the careless actions of a drunk driver.
If you have been the victim of an incident involving a drunk driver, we highly recommend seeking the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, one with experience in dealing with the state’s dram shop laws
Steps You Should Take Following a DUI Accident in Galena Park, TX
Following a drunk driving accident, there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that you protect your chances of a successful claim later on down the line.
Remain on the Scene
Following an accident involving a drunken driver, it is massively important that you remain on the scene. If you leave the scene it will be harder to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.
Check for Injuries
The first priority is to ensure that you are safe. If you know you have hit your head or you feel pain in your spine, neck, or shoulder, you should remain still and wait for the ambulance team to turn up and check you for serious injury.
If you feel able, check your body for injuries and check the other people involved before calling for the ambulance team.
Call an Ambulance if There are Injuries
It doesn’t matter how serious the injuries seem, we recommend that you call the emergency services and ask for an ambulance to attend the scene. This serves multiple purposes.
Firstly, the ambulance team will be able to deal with any injuries and will be able to check for internal bleeding and other hidden injuries that may have no outward symptoms. Internal bleeding may go unnoticed but can cause life-long complications and even death if left unchecked.
Secondly, the ambulance team will compile an accident report. This can be used as a great piece of unbiased evidence.
Finally, if you receive medical attention, this will serve as your first documented case of medical attention. This will be useful for your attorney when they need to compile a timeline for your medical damages suffered.
Call the Police
It is a smart idea to call the police following any car, motorcycle, or truck accident but it becomes crucial when you suspect that the at-fault party was under the influence when they caused the accident.
The police will be able to make the scene and everyone involved safe, diverting traffic and arranging for emergency removal of the vehicles involved if necessary.
The most important reason for calling the police in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident is that they will perform a blood alcohol test on the scene and this will be instrumental evidence in your case.
Finally, they will also file an accident report which can be drawn upon later on down the line.
One of the most important deciding factors in the success of dram shop liability cases is the amount of evidence that both you and your attorney can collect.
While your attorney will be able to investigate on your behalf if you are injured, if you are able, you should take photos or a video of the crash scene. Your attorney will be able to use any evidence you can provide.
For many accidents, there will be eyewitnesses on the scene who witnessed the event.
Unlike the police and the ambulance teams, these parties will have seen the accident happen in real-time and if they are willing to provide a statement and their details, you should take advantage of this.
The more details you can get the better so ask them if they mind you taking their phone numbers, emails, names, and addresses. Even better, if they are willing to provide a quick voice note or video statement, this can be really helpful for your case.
Hire a Galena Park Dram Shop Lawyer
As is the case with any personal injury claim, your chances of success will always be higher if you seek the help of a skilled dram shop liability lawyer as quickly as possible after your accident.
If you wait too long, your attorney, no matter how skilled, will find it harder to unearth evidence. CCTV footage may be deleted or overwritten and receipts may be thrown away or destroyed.
If you get in touch with your attorney immediately after the accident, the evidence will be fresh and the chances that the accident scene has been scoured clean will be reduced.
Do I Have a Dram Shop Case Following a DUI Accident in Galena Park, TX?
If you have reason to believe that the drunk driver who caused your accident had been drinking at a venue that should have refused them service, your best course of action is to call a skilled dram shop liability lawyer, like those here, at Abraham Watkins.
As soon as you get in touch, they will be able to utilize the resources at their command to investigate on your behalf, uncovering evidence and proof that the venue acted negligently.
If they find this evidence, they will be able to assign liability and if the venue acted negligently, serving alcohol to the patron when they should not have, you have the right to seek compensation for the damages caused by the drunk driving accident.
Victims that may be entitled to a claim include:
- Passengers in either car.
- Other drivers.
- In rare cases, the intoxicated driver themselves.
- The family of anyone killed.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense in Galena Park, TX?
If a Galena Park dram shop wants to reduce its chances of being held liable for a drunk driving accident caused by one of its patrons, it may implement certain measures. This allows them to use a defense known as the Safe Harbor Defense.
To utilize this defense, they must be able to show that they made their bartenders undergo a special two-hour training course designed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This training educates bartenders on the dangers of overserving intoxicated patrons alcohol and raises awareness.
It isn’t compulsory to undertake this training in order to serve alcohol in the state of Texas but if the venue wants to use this defense, they must provide evidence that the bartender who served the at-fault party underwent this training.
For more on the Texas Dram Shop Act and the Safer Harbor Defense, refer to 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Is the Average Settlement for Dram Shop Claims in Galena Park, TX?
No two personal injury or dram shop liability cases are the same. Every case comes with its own unique aspects, from the events leading to the incident, to the level of damages caused as a result. This means there is no average settlement figure, in fact, the settlement will depend entirely upon:
- How costly medical bills are.
- Future medical expenses.
- How much the accident has impacted your day-to-day life.
- The fault.
- The age of the injured victim.
- The severity of the injuries.
When it comes to calculating a settlement figure that proves hard to dispute, your attorney will start by adding up all of the damages that come with tangible physical costs. These damages include things like property damage and medical bills.
Next, they will look at damages known as pain and suffering. These damages include all of the costs that do not have a number attached. Things like loss of enjoyment of life and emotional and mental trauma are pain and suffering damages.
As these damages do not have a clear figure attached, it will take a skilled attorney to calculate them. The most suitable attorney for the job will be one who has experience in dealing with previous cases similar to yours. This will allow them to calculate your damages accurately, in a way that the other party’s insurance company, or ultimately a judge in court, will find hard to argue with.
Call Abraham Watkins in Gelena Park, TX Today!
As one of the longest-serving law firms in the entire state of Texas, we pride ourselves on our long years of service and stellar reputation here at Abraham Watkins.
We have over 70 years of experience in Texas law and this means we have seen numerous cases and won countless favorable results. We fight aggressively both in and out of court and we won’t rest until you have received the fair and reasonable treatment that you deserve.
Time is always of the essence, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us after your accident. We are experienced in dram shop liability cases and we can offer a free case evaluation to answer any questions you may have.
Call Abraham Watkins today and speak to a Gelena Park dram shop liability attorney.Our phone lines are manned around the clock, call us for a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
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