Unfortunately, South Houston, and the rest of Texas, witness their fair share of drunk driving-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
In an attempt to curb these cases and bring the number of fatalities down, Texas decided to introduce laws that target dram shops. Dram shop liability law places responsibilities on any bar, restaurant, or venue that serves alcohol for consumption on the premises.
Texas dram shop law states that if your premise is classified as a “dram shop”, then you have a duty of care to your customers. This duty of care means that your business should refuse further service of alcohol to any patron that is clearly and obviously intoxicated.
If your business serves a patron who is obviously intoxicated at the time of sale, and they go on to cause an accident involving damages, injuries, or the wrongful death of an innocent victim, your business may be held liable for its negligent behavior.
Negligent behavior is any behavior that is different from how a “reasonable” person would act in the same situation. If your venue should have refused service, and another venue acting reasonably would have refused service, then your business is acting negligently.
Contact Abraham Watkins Today!
If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident and have suffered from property damage, injury or a loved one has lost their life, you have every right to seek compensation from the at-fault parties under Texas dram shop laws.
You can seek compensation to cover your medical bills, property damage, and any emotional trauma or pain and suffering you have had to deal with as a result.
Here at Abraham Watkins, we have been fighting for justice for our clients for over 70 years, making us one of the longest-serving law firms in the state of Texas.
We know how traumatic the aftermath of drunk driving accidents can be. We have dealt with life-changing injuries, and the wrongful death of loved ones and have won favorable outcomes for numerous clients.
Give us a call at 713-535-9319 and arrange a free consultation today!
Do I Have a Dram Shop Case Following an Accident in South Houston?
It’s a reasonable assumption, that if a drunk driver was traveling from a venue that serves alcohol when they caused an accident, then they were overserved alcohol at that venue. If you suspect that this is the case, we recommend that you get in touch with an attorney skilled in dealing with Texas dram shop law.
They will spring into action, and begin investigating on your behalf. The more time that has elapsed since the accident when you contact your chosen attorney, the harder your case may be to deal with.
The sooner you get in touch, the sooner they can look for CCTV and other evidence that may prove the at-fault party was overserved alcohol.
If they can find this evidence, they will be able to figure out if the venue acted negligently and if they did, they can begin to assign liability. If they are found to be liable, there is a good chance you are entitled to seek compensation for any damages caused by their negligence.
Victims that may be entitled to a claim include:
- Other drivers.
- Passengers in either car.
- The family of anyone killed.
- In rare cases, the intoxicated driver themselves.
South Houston Dram Shop Liability Explained
Dram shop liability refers to the duty of care and legal responsibility placed upon dram shops by dram shop law.
To be found liable, a party must first be found to have acted negligently. To act negligently, a party must do something, or fail to do something, that a “reasonable” individual in the same situation would not do.
If a bartender served alcohol to a patron that was stumbling around and was visibly intoxicated, it stands to reason that the “reasonable” behavior would be to refuse them service.
If this negligent behavior is seen to be one of the reasons why the accident happened, then liability can be placed on the party or their employers who acted negligently.
Dram Shop Injuries
The effects of alcohol on the body are well studied and well documented. Everyone knows that they should not drive when they are under the influence.
Alcohol reduces reaction times and causes a lack of judgment.
Reduced reaction times mean that a drunk driver will not spot a hazard as quickly as a sober driver and they will not react as quickly when they do. This means they won’t swerve or apply the brakes quick enough, if at all.
The results are a higher impact crash with a drastically increased chance of fatality and life-changing injury.
Drunk driving accidents come with a higher chance of fatality and serious, life-changing injuries compared to the average car accident. Alcohol is a depressive drug. It reduces your reaction times and clouds your judgment at the same time.
Drunk drivers have the potential to cause an injury that could affect the rest of someone’s life or worse, remove a loved one from a family forever.
Steps You Should Take After a DUI Accident
In the immediate aftermath of a drunk driving accident, here are the things you can do to protect yourself and ensure you have the best chances at seeking compensation via a personal injury claim or a dram shop liability claim.
Never Leave the Scene of the Accident
It is important that you do not leave the scene of the accident until you have followed through with the steps below. Leaving will make it a lot harder for you to raise a case against the at-fault party.
Check for Injuries
Firstly, check yourself for injuries. If you have hit your head hard, or you feel pain in the neck, shoulder, or back, try to remain still and await help. If your injuries allow it, check your body for lacerations and burns and move to a place of safety.
Call an Ambulance if There are Injuries
No matter how big or small, we recommend that you call for an ambulance if either you or another party has any injuries. Medical personnel can check for serious injuries like internal bleeding or head trauma. They will also file a report that you can use later and if you receive medical treatment, this will serve as your first recorded instance of medical attention on your timeline.
Call the Police
We recommend that people call the police following any car accident but it is especially important if you believe that the at-fault party may be under the influence. The police can make the accident scene safe for you and other road users and they will administer a blood alcohol test to the drunk driver. This is the most important evidence in a DUI or dram shop liability case.
Any evidence you can collect at the scene will be valuable to an experienced personal injury attorney. Photos or videos of the scene and a brief description of what occured will help them understand what happened.
Often, there will be witnesses on the scene. They are important, especially before the police or ambulance turns up, as they may have witnessed what happened in real-time. If you are able and they are willing, collect their names, emails, numbers, addresses and if possible, a short statement from them.
Hire a South Houston Dram Shop Lawyer
Just as with any personal injury case, your chances of success are always the highest when you seek the help of an attorney in a timely manner. The further from the incident you get, the harder it is to unearth evidence that may prove instrumental in seeking the maximum potential compensation.
CCTV can be deleted, cars repaired, receipts thrown away and the accident scene can be scoured of evidence after the cleanup.
When is a Dram Shop Liable for Overserving Alcohol to an Intoxicated Patron in South Houston, Texas?
Under Texas’s Dram Shop Act, premises must refuse service to obviously and overly intoxicated patrons that ask for more alcohol.
Dram shops can be found liable and responsible 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 damages.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense to Dram Shop Liability?
There are certain measures that can be implemented by a venue that serves alcohol in order to help them reduce their liability. The main specialized defense that they may use to do this is called the Safe Harbor Defense.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission created a special 2-hour training course that dram shops may give to their employees. This training is not compulsory and a bartender does not have to receive it in Texas to serve alcohol, but if dram shops want to use the Safe Harbor Defense, they must be able to prove they gave the training.
As well as proving the bartender that served the patron has received this training they can not have been found to have coerced the bartender into serving the intoxicated person.
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 South Houston, TX?
Personal injury cases are extremely complex, meaning no two are the same. The circumstances leading to the accident and the specific situation will be different for every case. So too, will the level of damages involved.
The biggest factors that influence how much your settlement figure could be are:
- How costly medical bills are.
- The age of the injured victim.
- How much the accident has affected your daily life.
- The severity of the injuries.
- The fault.
- Future medical expenses.
When calculating what they believe to be a fair and reasonable settlement figure, your attorney will add up the quantifiable damages first. These are the damages with a physical cost attached to them. They include property damage and medical bills.
The next step is to work out your pain and suffering damages, the damages that do not have a tangible figure attached to them. This includes your emotional and mental trauma and the loss of enjoyment of life.
As pain and suffering damages do not have quantifiable numbers attached to them, you will need a skilled attorney to calculate them with accuracy. This is a difficult step but if done correctly, they will be able to calculate the highest possible sum that is still reasonable and fair, making it harder to dispute.
Call Abraham Watkins Today!
Abraham Watkins prides itself on being a law firm in which you can place your full trust. We have over 70 years of experience, making us one of the longest-serving law firms in the entire state.
Over those 70 years, we have won favorable outcomes for numerous clients and we have created a team of experienced and skilled lawyers with a deep well of knowledge. With our experience in cases just like yours and our unrivaled approach to the attorney-client relationship, we are ready to fight aggressively on your behalf.
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 seek the compensation you deserve. Our phone lines are manned around the clock, call us at 713-535-9319!
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