Bars, nightclubs, and restaurants are common gathering places for revelers. These venues are expected to keep an eye on patrons and ensure that they are served alcohol in a responsible manner.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case and when dram shop venues, venues that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, neglect their duty of care to customers, it can lead to serious consequences.
The main danger that can occur when a patron is over-served alcohol when visibly intoxicated occurs when they are allowed to leave the venue and drive home while intoxicated. While under the influence, drivers have reduced reaction times, find it harder to spot hazards, and make poor judgment calls. The result is a drastically increased potential for accidents and a serious risk of causing a fatality or life-changing injury.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, an attorney at Abraham Watkins will be able to investigate the venue that served them alcohol. If they served the patron alcohol when they were obviously intoxicated, they may be liable for the damages you have incurred as a result.
We know how traumatic an accident like this can be, which is why we are passionate about helping our clients pursue compensation for their suffering.
We want our help to be available to all victims of drunk driving accidents, no matter their financial circumstances, which is why we offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. It won’t cost you to obtain our representation and you won’t pay a penny unless you win your case.
Our phone lines are manned 24/7. Call us now to arrange a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
Texas Dram Shop Law Explained
When we refer to dram shop liability, we are talking about a legal responsibility that is placed upon dram shops in the state of Texas. If a venue serves alcoholic beverages, with the mind that patrons drink them on their property, they must refuse service to a customer if they are visibly and obviously intoxicated.
If they serve a patron that clearly should not be served, this is negligent behavior.
Negligent behavior, defined, is:
“A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct). “
Simplified, and in the terms of dram shop liability, negligent behavior is when a bartender acts in a way that is seen as different from how a sensible and reasonable bartender would have acted in the same circumstances.
Do I Have a Dram Shop Case in Pearland, TX?
If you are unsure whether your circumstances and situation qualify you to make a claim, the best plan of action begins with speaking to an experienced dram shop liability lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer who deals with DUI cases and dram shop liability will be able to talk you through the legal process, advise you on whether they believe your case is worth pursuing and can answer any questions you may have.
What to Do After a DUI Accident in Pearland, TX
Following a drunk driving accident or any accident caused by someone under the influence, you should follow certain steps to ensure that you give yourself the best possible chances of a successful claim.
Here are some things to try and remember if you want the best chances of success in a dram shop claim.
Stay on the Scene
You should always stay on the scene of an accident. If the accident was caused by a drunk driver, leaving the scene may allow them to flee without having a blood alcohol test and this may harm your chances of victory.
Is Anyone Injured?
If you are able to, check yourself for injuries and, if possible check the others involved for injuries. A little information can go a long way and if there are serious injuries, you can inform the ambulance team so they prioritize giving the right people treatment first.
Call an Ambulance
Even if the injuries seem relatively minor, you should still call for an ambulance. They will ensure that there are no hidden injuries or further complications. Some injuries, like internal bleeding, will not have outward signs and if they are not treated, could prove fatal.
The paramedics will also file an accident report regarding the situation. This is a great piece of evidence that your attorney will be able to obtain later on down the line.
Call for Police Assistance
While it is always a smart idea following any car accident to call the police, it is crucial that you do so if you suspect the at-fault party was driving under the influence. They will arrive quickly, make the scene safe and cordon off traffic and, most importantly, they will administer a blood alcohol test to the at-fault party.
This test will be the most crucial evidence in proving that the driver was under the influence.
Your dram shop case is going to rely upon evidence, and this means the more you can obtain at the scene, the better. If you are in the position to, make sure you take photos and videos of the scene. Another smart idea is to draw a quick sketch of how the accident happened if you have a pen and paper to hand.
Go to the Hospital
Even if you feel okay and you have not received medical attention on the scene, you should head immediately to a hospital or doctor. They will check you for hidden injuries and will be able to examine you for things like whiplash.
This will also serve as a starting point on your medical attention timeline, which your attorney will need to build later on to recover your damages.
Notify your Insurance Company
You should inform your insurance company there has been an accident as soon as possible. This will ensure that you get the medical attention you need.
Always remember that your insurance company will be looking for any potential way to reduce their payout. Do not say anything that may be seen as an admittance of fault in any way.
Once you have informed them of the accident, you should ask them to speak to your attorney going forwards.
Hire a Pearland TX Dram Shop Lawyer
Now is the perfect time to get in touch with your attorney and tell them about your accident so that they can begin to investigate on your behalf. The sooner you get in touch with them, the sooner they can begin building your case.
Once you have agreed to representation, your attorney will also take over all the tedious parts of your claim. They will make sure your paperwork is filed correctly and on time, which always looks good in the eyes of the court and they will advise you to do the things you may not have known to do, such as retaining all of your bills and receipts.
Alcohol’s Effect On Driving Ability
Drunk driving accidents have an increased chance of resulting in a fatality or serious injury for a reason.
When drivers are under the influence of alcohol, it impairs their driving ability in a number of ways.
Firstly, their reaction times are reduced. What this means is when they eventually spot a hazard, they will be slower to apply the brakes or may fail to apply them whatsoever.
Secondly, their ability to make judgment calls is impaired, which means they may not perform evasive maneuvers that could save someone’s life or avoid the accident.
Finally, alcohol increases the chances that the driver will engage in dangerous driving like speeding or road rage.
What these impairments usually equate to, is an impact at a much higher speed, in a more head-on direction.
When is a Venue Liable for Overserving Alcohol to an Intoxicated Person in Texas?
The Texas Dram Shop Act places a responsibility on dram shops and states that sellers of alcohol must not serve alcohol to a customer who is obviously already intoxicated. This means they could be found liable 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.
The Safe Harbor Defense to Dram Shop Liability
Dram shops do have a defense that they can utilize to reduce their liability. This defense is called the Safe Harbor Defense. There are requisites to this, mainly:
- 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.
If an employer has evidence that they have given this course to the bartender who was serving the at-fault driver, then they may utilize the Safe Harbor Defense, under 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Is the Average Settlement for Dram Shop Claims in Pearland, TX?
When it comes to a drunk driving personal injury case, there will be a range of variables that affect the level of compensation received. Every case will be unique and will have unique levels of damages that need to be recovered and different levels of pain and suffering.
First, your attorney will need to work out the value of the economic damages the victim has suffered. Economic damages include all the damages that have physical price tags attached. Medical bills and property damages are forms of economic damage.
Next will be the non-economic damages. These are the damages that do not have physical costs attached and can cover a range of things, from pain and suffering to loss of enjoyment of life. If a victim has developed a phobia of driving or can no longer throw a ball to their son, this should be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life.
Your attorney will take the total cost of your economic damages and work out how severe your pain and suffering damages are. They will then calculate a settlement figure that they believe to be fair and reasonable and send it to the other party who may accept or decline.
If they decline, your attorney will move into the next stage, using your case to convince the courts that you deserve the damages you are seeking from the other party.
Call Abraham Watkins Today!
Abraham Watkins is proud to have served Texas for over 70 years. Our experience and knowledge are extensive and we are dedicated to securing fair compensation for personal injury victims in Texas.
With a long list of successful cases to draw upon and an unrivaled approach to the attorney-client relationship, we are ready to help.
Whether your case requires a quick settlement or a long flight, we are prepared to go the distance, no matter the complexity of your case.Our phone lines are manned 24/7. Call us now to arrange a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
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