If you or someone you love was injured by a drunk driver, then you may be able to claim damages against third parties who may have contributed to the accident.
Abraham Watkins is one of the longest-serving law firms in Texas. We have been fighting for justice for personal injury victims in Texas for over 70 years and we are uniquely prepared to handle dram shop liability cases.
Dram shop laws exist to try and curb the number of drunk driving accidents in Texas, which occur roughly every 20 minutes!
These laws place responsibility on dram shops, which are venues that serve alcoholic beverages to be consumed on their premises such as restaurants and bars.
Dram shops have a duty of care to their patrons, and if they can see that someone is clearly intoxicated, then they should refuse them service. If they continue to overserve alcohol and that person causes a drunk driving accident, then the venue could be made to pay out damages to injured parties.
Our phone lines are open 24/7 and we offer a free consultation to all personal injury victims. So call us today and speak to a Prairie View TX dram shop lawyer at 713-535-9319.
What Are Texas Dram Shop Laws?
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and the Texas Dram Shop Act, place liability on people who contribute to drunk driving accidents, even though they are not physically involved.
For example, dram shops, which provide alcohol to be served on their premises, that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons, can be held liable for the damages they cause.
Other examples of dram shop law violations include:
- Serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.
- Encouraging a clearly intoxicated person to drink more.
- Allowing a visibly intoxicated person to leave the dram shop and enter their vehicle.
- Serving alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
- Overserving alcohol so that it creates a substantial risk of death.
Who Can Claim Damages Under Dram Shop Liability?
A Prairie View dram shop lawyer can help people affected by drunk driving accidents and their families to claim damages against an establishment that over-served alcohol.
Those who can pursue damages under Texas dram shop liability include:
- Any victims of a drunk driving accident where the driver was overserved alcohol.
- Family members of a victim of wrongful death.
- Relatives of the overserved drunk driver.
- In rare cases, the drunk driver themselves (usually only if they were under the age of 21).
- Owners of property damaged by the intoxicated driver.
Who Can Be Held Liable Under Texas Dram Shop Law?
Following a DUI accident, the intoxicated driver can be held liable for the damages they cause. However, the potential for compensation doesn’t end there.
It is illegal for a dram shop such as a restaurant, bar, or liquor store to serve alcohol to a clearly intoxicated person or minors, regardless of whether they are intoxicated. If these individuals go on to cause a drunk driving accident, then a Texas dram shop lawyer can pursue claims against the establishment.
Establishment owners, as well as the servers of alcohol themselves such as bartenders, can be held legally responsible for the damages caused by over-serving.
Dram Shop Liability Defenses
Over-serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person is negligent behavior. Negligence is the term used when someone behaves differently from how a reasonable person would in a similar situation. For example, if a bartender sees a patron slurring their speech but served alcohol anyway, then this is negligence.
However, there are possible defenses that dram shops can use to limit their liability. These defenses should not stop you from speaking to a law firm. At Abraham Watkins, we offer a free consultation so we can let you know if we think you may have a claim.
Social Host Exemption
Hosts to other adults or their own children cannot be found liable under dram shop laws if their guest causes a drunk driving accident. This includes parents serving alcohol to their own children, or adults serving alcohol to guests aged 18 or older.
Safe Harbor Defense
Dram shops that otherwise abide by the rules of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), and provide full and proper training to their employees may be able to defend their over-serving as an “honest mistake.”. However, they must be able to prove that their staff are up to date with training and that they did not coerce them into continuing to serve alcohol when they should have stopped.
Seeking Compensation in a Prairie View Dram Shop Claim
A Texas dram shop attorney will calculate your damages and evidence what you are owed so that your settlement figure is difficult to challenge. Certain damages such as medical expenses can be easily evidenced, while others, such as those related to your emotional suffering, are more tricky to calculate.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages are in place to compensate you for your non-economic damages. That includes the degree of physical pain you experience, mental suffering, and loss of enjoyment in life. For example, you may be anxious to get in a car, or your injuries may be preventing you from participating in yoga, running, or other hobbies that you enjoyed before the accident.
Pain and suffering damages are not easily quantifiable, and require a skilled personal injury lawyer to calculate.
Medical Bills and Expenses
Medical bills, traveling to and from the hospital, the cost of childcare while you are recovering, and any other expenses related to your medical care should all be represented in your settlement figure. If your injuries are ongoing, then your lawyer can also seek testimony from medical professionals to calculate the potential cost of ongoing treatment, physiotherapy, and adjustments to your home or car.
Vehicle Repair and Other Property Damage
Following an accident with a drunk driver, you may have to pay for vehicle repair or replacement. Or you may have broken your phone, laptop, or other property in the accident. All of these costs should be reimbursed to you, but you should make sure that you keep a record of everything.
Time off Work and Lost Wages
It is likely that you had to take some time off work, and if this resulted in lost wages, then these should be represented in your settlement. If you have ongoing injuries that will prevent you from returning to work, then you should also be compensated for the loss of earning potential.
Wrongful Death Damages After The Death of a Loved One
When a loved one is killed in a DUI accident, the family deserves to be compensated, both for their economic losses such as the lost support of their wages, their funeral expenses, and for the family’s pain and suffering.
Money can’t bring your loved one back to you, but it can mean that you don’t have to struggle financially as a result of someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death attorney at Abraham Watkins will support you every step of the way and fight fiercely for what is owed to you.
A dram shop cannot be held liable for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing, rather than to compensate the victim’s losses. However, personal injury cases that are brought against drunk drivers can result in punitive damages being awarded to the victims.
Steps to Take After a Drunk Driving Accident in Prairie View TX
DUI accidents are responsible for thousands of injuries in the United States. When this happens, it is essential that victims take the proper steps to protect their rights to compensation. Remember, our phone lines are always open, so you can always give us a call if you need guidance.
Check Yourself, And Then Others, For Injuries
Most importantly, you will need to check yourself for injuries and if you have difficulty moving or you have pain in your back or neck, then you should refrain from moving and wait for the paramedics to arrive.
If you are safe to do so, you can check anyone else involved in the accident for serious injury. Do not move anyone, instead if anyone is seriously injured, then call 911 and wait for help.
Stay At The Scene of The Accident
In Texas, you have a legal obligation to stay at the scene of a car accident. Although you can move to a place of safety if you are in danger from oncoming traffic. You will need to stay either until the police arrive (if they are called), or until you have swapped information with the other driver or affected parties.
Call The Police To The Scene
Under Texas law, if someone has suffered an injury, or the accident has caused property damage exceeding $1000, then you must report the accident to the police. The police officer who attends the scene will be required to fill out a police report, which will become an integral piece of evidence in your dram shop liability case.
Even if the accident was minor, if you suspect that a driver is under the influence, then you should contact the police, regardless. They will carry out a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test to determine if they are driving over the limit.
Collect Evidence Including Photos and Personal Information
If your injuries are not too severe, then you may have the opportunity to collect evidence to support your claim. This could include photos of vehicles, injuries, and anything else of relevance.
You could also ask the other driver for their information, name, and contact details. If there are any witnesses, ask if you can also have their contact information. Your attorney may contact them later to help build your case.
Get a Medical Examination
If you are not attended to by paramedics at the scene, then you should get a medical examination as soon as possible. Car accidents can cause a lot of adrenaline to be released which may mask your injuries and you could unknowingly worsen your condition.
Your medical examination is also a requirement of your personal injury claim, as it is evidence of your injuries. The closer to the accident you receive medical care, the better, as it will allow your attorney to prove that your injuries were a direct result of the incident with the drunk driver.
Speak to Your Car Insurance Company
You may need to let your insurance company know that you have been in a car accident, otherwise your insurance coverage could be invalid. You may have a limited amount of time to do this, which should be detailed in your insurance policy.
When you do speak to your insurance company, keep the details vague and do not admit fault, or diminish your injuries in any way. For example, do not say that you are feeling ok or that you were tired or distracted when the accident occurred. Remember, insurance companies are big businesses and they may try to devalue your claim to limit how much they have to pay you.
Once you contact an attorney at Abraham Watkins, we will take over all correspondence with insurance companies on your behalf. Therefore, if your insurance company keeps asking you questions, you can tell them that your attorney will contact them.
Hire a Prairie View Dram Shop Attorney
In order to maximize your chances of fair compensation, you should contact a dram shop liability attorney as soon as possible following a DUI accident. At Abraham Watkins, we will start investigating your claim straight away. We will gather CCTV, police reports, medical records, and mechanical reports, and speak to witnesses, accident reconstruction specialists, and more.
As one of the longest-serving law firms in Texas, we are confident that we can give your case the attention it deserves. We will fight for a fair settlement and if the other party refuses, then we are prepared to take your dram shop lawsuit to court.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that representation from us costs you nothing upfront. We take our fee as a percentage of your eventual settlement if we are successful. In the unlikely scenario that your case is not successful, then we won’t receive anything. No hidden fees, and no risk to you.
Contact a Prairie View, TX Dram Shop Lawyer Today
If a dram shop serves alcohol to a minor or a clearly intoxicated person, and that person goes on to cause a drunk driving accident, then the dram shop, or the server, could be liable for the damages caused.
In order to successfully claim damages in a dram shop claim, you need to seek advice from a skilled attorney who is prepared to fight fiercely on your behalf.Contact a Prairie View dram shop attorney today for a free consultation at 713-535-9319!
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