Dram shop laws in Texas were introduced to reduce the growing number of fatal accidents and serious injuries shown in the state’s drunk driving statistics.
These laws apply and govern any venue that is classified as a dram shop. To be classified as a dram shop, a venue must serve alcohol to patrons for consumption on the same premises. This includes bars, restaurants, and clubs.
Under dram shop liability laws, if a dram shop serves alcohol to a patron who is already visibly and clearly intoxicated, the venue may be found liable for their damages, especially if they cause a car accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver in Tomball, TX, there is a good chance they were drinking at a club, restaurant, or bar. If this is the case, you could be entitled to seek compensation for any damages you suffered as a result of this accident.
Here at Abraham Watkins, we have worked with the victims of drunk driving accidents across numerous cases. With our skill and experience in dealing with personal injury accidents, we have helped numerous clients win compensation and recover their damages. These damages include medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering.
We have been practicing personal injury trial law in Tomball, TX since 1951. During these 70 years, we have won a number of cases, building a long list of happy clients in the process.
With an approach to the attorney-client relationship that is second to none, our team of highly skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers is ready to take on your case.
Give us a call at 713-535-9319 and arrange a free consultation with an experienced attorney today!
Tomball, TX Dram Shop Negligence and Liability Explained
Dram shops in Tomball, and all across the state of Texas, have a legal responsibility and duty of care to their customers.
This responsibility means that bartenders should be aware of their customers. They should notice when a customer is visibly intoxicated and should refuse further service.
If they serve alcoholic beverages to a customer who is clearly intoxicated, this may be seen as negligent behavior.
Negligence is any behavior that is seen as different from how a “reasonable” individual in the same situation would act. If a reasonable bartender would have refused service, then the bartender who served the intoxicated person can be seen to have acted negligently, and this means the venue may be liable.
Does My Situation Qualify for Dram Shop Claim?
In Tomball, TX, you and your attorney will need to prove the following elements:
- The person who caused the accident was served alcoholic beverages at a venue that is governed by dram shop law.
- That the venue served an obviously intoxicated person when they should not have.
- That the intoxicated person was then allowed to enter their vehicle unchallenged and went on to cause the accident you were involved in.
Dram Shop Injuries
With the drastic effect that alcohol has on the nervous system and reaction times of those that consume it, driving under the influence is a dangerous decision.
Reduced reaction times mean that drunk drivers will react slower when they notice a hazard. This means they may not apply their brakes and they may not swerve to avoid hitting someone. They may also be traveling at an inappropriate speed that is over the speed limit.
This means that when they crash, the chance of causing a fatality or a serious, life-changing injury is severely increased.
DUI accident cases we deal with often involve the wrongful death of a beloved family member, meaning we witness the terrible effect such a loss can have on a family firsthand. A wrongful death attorney will help you seek the justice you deserve.
Who Can Claim in a Dram Shop Liability Case in Tomball, TX?
If you want to make a claim against a dram shop in the state of Texas, firstly you need to ensure that it is governed by the state’s Dram shop liability laws. Venues must serve alcohol for consumption on the premises to be classified as a dram shop.
You must also have been involved in a drunk driving accident caused by a driver who was over the limit and you must suspect that they were driving on their way back from one of the state’s dram shops.
If you meet these criteria, you may qualify you to make a claim. Get in touch with a skilled Tomball dram shop liability lawyer as soon as possible.
In personal injury law, evidence is extremely important and one of your attorney’s jobs will be to unearth proof that the driver was overserved at a dram shop before causing your injuries.
If they can discover this evidence, they may be able to assign liability. If the venue is found negligent, they may be found liable for all damages you have suffered as a result of their negligence under Texas law.
Victims can include:
- Other drivers.
- Passengers in either car.
- The family of anyone killed.
- In rare cases, the intoxicated driver themselves.
Things you Should and Should Not Do After a DUI Accident
In order to increase your chances of successfully pursuing the maximum compensation for your damages and injuries, there are certain things you should do and certain things that you should avoid.
Never Leave the Scene of a Drunk Driving Accident
Never leave the scene of a drunk driving accident until the police have turned up, and you have collected evidence unless you have serious injuries that need emergency medical treatment. If you are able, and you need to, move to a place of safety, away from oncoming traffic.
Check for Injuries
If during the accident, you know you hit your head or you can feel pain in the neck, spine, shoulders, or head, you need to remain as still as possible. If someone tries to move you, tell them not to and to call for an ambulance as you believe you may have spinal damage.
If you are confident that you have not injured your neck, head, or spine, check yourself for other injuries such as burns cuts, and bruises. You should also check other victims and the at-fault party for injuries if possible so that you can tell the ambulance team and tell the operator.
Call an Ambulance if there are Injuries
If there are injuries, you need to call an ambulance to ensure everyone’s safety. For serious injuries, the paramedics may save someone’s life. They will also check everyone over for hidden injuries. Head trauma, TBI, and internal bleeding may not be outwardly obvious and may lie hidden. If they are not diagnosed, they can be fatal later on down the line.
The paramedics will file an accident report regarding what they dealt with and what they witnessed. This can be obtained by your attorney later on and can be a great piece of unbiased evidence.
If you receive any medical attention on the scene, this will be your first documented medical attention.
Call the Police
In the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, you should always call the police. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime under Texas law and the police should be informed. They will make sure that traffic is diverted and that any aggressive or drunk parties are dealt with.
Most importantly, the police will be able to administer a blood alcohol test to the at-fault drunk driver and this is perhaps the most useful and important piece of evidence in any drunk driving accident case.
The police also file their own accident report that can be obtained by your attorney.
In dram shop liability personal injury cases, evidence is crucial if you want to win your case. While your attorney will be able to investigate on your behalf, if you are able, you should collect your own whilst on the scene.
If possible take a video of the scene and photos of the cars involved, the road, the injuries, and the property damage. The more evidence, the better.
It is always easier to get a witness statement from any eye-witnesses while you are on the scene. If you leave it to your attorney to seek a statement later on, they may be less reliable. If there are eye-witnesses, ask them for a quick statement. Even better, ask if you can voice record their statement. This means they only have to verify that it is accurate if your attorney rings them weeks or months later.
You should also ask them for all of their details, such as their name, address, email, and phone number.
Go to the Hospital
Even if you did not need any medical treatment on the scene of the accident, you should make it a priority to go and get yourself checked out at a hospital. If you have missed the signs of internal bleeding or trauma, they will be able to pick it up.
This will also prove as your first documented medical attention and the start of your medical timeline. It always looks better if you seek medical attention immediately as opposed to later on down the line.
Hire a Tomball Dram Shop Lawyer
Personal injury cases are always easier to win when you act quickly. The longer you leave it before you get in touch with a Tomball drunk driving accident lawyer, the harder it will be for them to build the optimal case on your behalf.
The sooner you obtain legal representation, the easier it will be for them to find the evidence necessary to seek full and maximum compensation.
Your attorney will also make it easier for you to focus on your health and recovery by taking over liaising with the insurance company and filing your paperwork.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Tomball Dram Shop Liability Claim
There are two main types of damages that your attorney will need to calculate in order to form a settlement figure.
Your economic damages are the damages you have suffered that have cost you physical money. If you have had to repair your car or replace it, these are economic damages. Medical bills also fall under economic damages.
Noneconomic damages are the damages you have suffered that are harder to place a sum on. You should be compensated for your emotional and mental trauma, for example, even though they do not have a physical cost.
Other examples include a loss of enjoyment of life. If you cannot go camping anymore because of your injuries, this should be compensated.
The most common damages your lawyer will be calculating include:
Most accidents caused by a drunk driver lead to injuries that are serious enough that you need to take time off work and you should not be out of pocket for your lost wages.
By calculating how much time you have had to take off work for your treatment and considering how much time you may have to take off work in the future, your attorney will be able to put a figure to your lost income.
In more serious cases, if you can never return to work in the same capacity, your attorney may calculate how much a lifetime of lost wages may cost you.
One of the biggest worries for victims is that their medical expenses exceed their medical coverage. This may mean you have to pay for your treatment out of your own pocket. If you cannot afford this, you may not receive the treatment you desperately need.
Your Tomball drunk driving attorney will help you claim for:
- Surgery costs.
- Medicine costs.
- Treatment, therapy, and physiotherapy.
- Parking charges whilst at the hospital.
- Transport to and from the hospital, taxis, ambulances, etc.
If you want to seek full recompense for all of your medical bills, you need to make sure that you keep all of your bills and receipts. This will help your attorney accurately calculate your medical damages.
Another way that you can assist your attorney, is by keeping a daily diary of your treatment, pain, and mood. Each day, make a note of how you feel and how much pain you are in, and keep a detailed log of your treatment.
Pain and Suffering
Your pain and suffering includes damages that do not have a physical figure attached. If you can no longer play catch with your son, ride a bike with your daughter or play sports you used to play, this is known as a loss of enjoyment of life and should be compensated for.
If you have developed a phobia of driving or now have anxiety attacks behind the wheel, this is another example of pain and suffering and you should seek compensation with your attorney.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense to Dram Shop Liability in Tomball, TX?
If a venue wants to protect itself from liability in the case of a dram shop case, they need to implement certain measures to allow them to use the “Safe Harbor Defense”.
If the venue can prove that they have given a 2-hour training course specifically designed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to raise awareness and educate bartenders on the dangers of overserving alcohol, they may use this defense.
The employer must provide evidence that they have given this training to the bartender who served the at-fault driver. The defense is also void if they coerced the bartender into serving the intoxicated driver when the bartender intended to refuse service.
For more on the Harbor Defense, refer to 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Is the Average Settlement for Dram Shop Claims in Tomball, TX?
With personal injury cases involving a drunk driving accident, there is always a range of different circumstances involved that make each case unique.
Each case will have varying degrees of negligence and different levels of damages to consider. These factors will heavily influence the eventual settlement and this means there is no average settlement figure.
The biggest factors will be:
- The severity of the injuries.
- How costly medical bills are.
- Past and potential future medical expenses.
- The fault.
- The age of the injured victim.
- How much the accident has impacted your day-to-day life.
To calculate the settlement figure you seek, your attorney will add up all the economic damages, such as your medical bills and car repairs.
With this figure in mind, your attorney will then consider your level of pain and suffering. As these damages do not have a physical figure, it will be down to the skill and experience of your attorney to accurately calculate them.
The more accurate they are in calculating your pain and suffering, the harder it will be to argue with the settlement figure they come up with.
Call a Dram Shop Attorney for a Free Consultation
In order to help you navigate the complex and tricky regulations that are in place in the state of Texas, you are going to need a skilled dram shop attorney on your side. This will ensure that you have the best possible chance of seeking the maximum compensation that is owed to you.
Call Abraham Watkins Today!
As one of the longest-serving personal injury law firms in the entire state, Abraham Watkins is a name you can trust to represent you. With over 70 years of experience in dealing with cases just like yours, our knowledge is extensive.
We have won countless favorable outcomes for a long list of happy clients and we pride ourselves on offering an unrivaled service, with a strong focus on the attorney-client relationship.
We fight aggressively when necessary, both in and out of the courtroom. We seek a quick settlement in simple cases and we aren’t afraid to go the distance, fighting in court in more complex situations.
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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