Hurt by a Drunk Driver in Houston? Our Lawyers Are Ready to Fight for You
What Is The Definition of Drunk Driving?
The legal limit for driving under the influence varies from state to state. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent typically leads to a DUI charge. When you are drunk, your reaction time is much slower than it would be if you were sober. You can’t control your car as well when you are intoxicated, so your body is more likely to get hurt in a car accident. When you add alcohol to the mix, it only gets worse.
What Is the Texas Dram Shop Law?
First, you’ll want to understand what a dram shop is because it’s a term many individuals haven’t heard before. A dram shop is a term used for commercial businesses that serve alcoholic beverages, such as restaurants, bars, and taverns. While dram shop liability cases often involve drunk drivers, a Houston dram shop could be liable for serious injuries from overserved individuals falling and hurting themselves or physically assaulting others.
Per the Texas Alcoholic beverage code, the Texas dram shop act enables victims of drunk driving accidents to bring lawsuits against establishments that serve patrons too much alcohol. However, the Texas dram shop law does not apply to all drunk driving accidents. Certain stipulations must be met for victims to file a claim or bring a lawsuit against the establishment that served alcohol to the driver.
When Does the Dram Shop Act Apply?
Restaurants, taverns, and any other business that sells alcohol could face a dram shop liability case if they overserve customers. In addition, serving an alcoholic beverage to an underage customer also opens an establishment up to a lawsuit.
Before you can seek compensation from a bar or restaurant under the dram shop law, victims must prove their “standing” before the court. In this context, establishing a standing before the court means proving they have suffered damages for which the court can grant them compensation, with the recompense coming from the responsible party or parties.
Working with Houston dram shop lawyers is necessary for victims serious about seeking compensation for their harm. While you can bring a case against an establishment without an attorney, proving the establishment’s liability will be challenging without legal representation.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Dram Shop Case?
The individual or entity providing alcohol can often be held liable if a patron is overserved at their establishment and then goes on to cause harm to themselves or someone else. Businesses know this and, as a result, should take steps to prevent the overserving of alcohol and serving underage patrons.
Besides it being the ethical thing to do, businesses are also motivated not to overserve patrons or serve underage guests because it could negatively affect their business. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission can withdraw an establishment’s permit to serve alcohol, which significantly cuts into a restaurant’s revenue, and can close down a bar entirely.
Prepared for the Worst
Most businesses that sell alcohol carry liquor liability insurance, whether they are bars, restaurants, taverns, or liquor stores. This insurance can help them reimburse claims for property damage and medical bills resulting from an overserved patron injuring someone else or possibly themselves. The insurance company covering the establishment can help compensate victims in assault and battery claims, drunk driving claims, and property damage claims, provided that the situation was caused by a patron of their establishment being overserved.
What Is the Social Host Law in Texas?
The social host law is different from the dram shop law. Social host liability exists in situations where people may be served alcohol but not in a retail or restaurant capacity. A social host is someone who serves alcohol without receiving payment, such as a homeowner offering dinner guests a drink or a party host who has alcohol available to guests but doesn’t have a bartender serving it.
Dram shop cases are relatively common, but social host cases are not. For a social host to be liable if one of their intoxicated guests is in a collision, one of two situations must occur:
- The host knowingly provided alcohol to an underage person
- The host provided alcohol to an obviously intoxicated guest that presented a clear danger to themselves and others
When Is a Bar or Restaurant Liable For Overserving Alcohol to an Intoxicated Person in Texas?
While a dram shop lawsuit doesn’t have to involve drunk driving, the majority of dram shop cases stem from drunk driving. Car accidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption can result in personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Texas law dictates that any establishment that sells cannot serve alcohol to a person showing signs of intoxication. Businesses that sell alcohol may be held responsible for damages if: they allowed a patron to become intoxicated to the point where they pose a clear danger to themselves and others, and the intoxicated patron went on to cause damages.
Alcohol providers can be considered negligent parties in a dram shop case if they continue to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. Some state’s dram shop laws require individuals who serve alcohol to determine whether or not they should serve a patron based on the patron being visibly intoxicated or their assumed blood alcohol content.
Texas dram shop laws are selectively phrased to ensure that businesses that serve alcohol must use every bit of information available to them to determine if a patron is drunk. Unfortunately, proving intoxication isn’t always simple, so individuals serving guests alcohol must be diligent and thorough in their efforts to determine if a patron can safely be served.
Who Can File a Claim in a Dram Shop Liability Case?
If the overserving of alcohol to an already intoxicated person results in a car accident, several people could potentially have a claim against the establishment. Of course, the individual directly injured by the drunk driver could be eligible to pursue a personal injury case against the establishment.
Individuals injured by the drunk driver don’t have to have been the driver of the other vehicle involved in the auto accident. For example, personal injury victims may be pedestrians who the drunk driver hit, passengers in the car stuck by the drunk driver, and even family members of accident victims who are injured so severely they can no longer participate in their familial role.
Many people are surprised to learn that intoxicated drivers may be able to initiate Houston dram shop cases to seek compensation for the injuries they received in the auto accident. While you may not think of an intoxicated driver as a victim in a drunk driving accident, if a dram shop lawyer proves that an establishment didn’t provide appropriate service and contributed to the accident by overserving, the driver could have a solid case.
Pursuing Justice in Wrongful Death Cases
Individuals who have immediate family members killed by overserved drunk drivers may be able to bring a case against the person or establishment serving alcohol to the drunk driver. In Texas, the state’s dram shop laws can help the loved ones of victims in wrongful death accidents seek justice for their loved one’s death. Spouses, parents, and children of the car wreck victim can pursue a wrongful death claim against the negligent parties.
How Can a Personal Injury Law Firm Help Prove Dram Shop Liability?
To determine if a Houston dram shop is responsible for serving alcohol to an already intoxicated purpose, your lawyer will need to investigate the situation and find proof that the establishment serving alcohol behaved negligently. If your attorney can prove that the business didn’t train employees to identify symptoms that a patron is intoxicated or didn’t put protocols in place to prevent patrons from being overserved, there’s a chance that the establishment could be held liable. Other reasons dram shop liability could be proven include not monitoring a customer’s alcohol consumption or staff not checking a patron’s ID before serving them.
Houston dram shop lawyers are well-versed in the numerous rules and regulations pertaining to the sale and serving of alcohol. They will be able to review your situation carefully and spot details that can prove the establishment failed to live up to its responsibility to its customers.
What Should I Do After a Collision With an Alcohol-Impaired Driver?
Drunk driving statistics in the United States are grim. The National Highway Safety Administration reports that approximately 30% of Americans will be involved in an alcohol-caused collision at some point in their lifetime. Driving under the influence is a crime, but unfortunately, that isn’t enough to keep thousands of Americans from hopping in the driver’s seat after drinking too much.
Since alcohol can negatively affect an individual’s ability to make intelligent decisions, their reaction time, coordination, depth perception, and reaction time, an impaired driver can cause catastrophic harm to themselves and others around them. If you have the misfortune of being in a collision with an impaired individual, there are certain things you’ll want to do to protect yourself and your ability to pursue compensation for your injuries or property damage.
Call the Police
Calling the police is a must if you are in an alcohol-related crash. When the officer arrives on the scene, they will have the driver complete a sobriety test or take a breathalyzer. The officer will also create an accident report. The officer’s report and the test results will be critical evidence if you decide to pursue legal action against the driver who hit you or the establishment that overserved them.
Document the Scene
The more information you have about the collision, the easier it will be to determine the liable parties. The contact information for any witnesses, close-up pictures of the damage to all involved vehicles, and photographs of the whole accident scene can all be beneficial to your dram shop lawyer. However, take care that you do not interfere with the police’s investigation while you document. The accident scene of an alcohol-related crash is usually considered a crime scene, and officers on the scene may be collecting evidence.
Contact a Law Firm
Following your accident, you’ll want to contact a Texas law firm. Houston dram shop lawyers will offer you the greatest likelihood of filing a successful case against the liable parties.
The state’s dram shop law means you could end up seeking compensation from the establishment that served the driver instead of the driver. Since proving dram shop liability requires extensive knowledge of the Texas alcoholic beverage code, you’ll want an experienced law firm representing you.
Did a Drunk Driver Injure You?
A drunk driving accident can have a long-lasting impact on your life. If a car accident caused by an overserved driver has left you with catastrophic injuries and expensive medical bills, you deserve to pursue justice for the wrong committed against you.
Dram shop liability cases are challenging to win, so you’ll want to contact Houston dram shop lawyers to discuss your case. Whether the business or the drunk driver is responsible for your personal injury, a personal injury attorney can help you attempt to seek compensation for your damages.
Contact Leading Houston Dram Shop Liability Lawyers Right Away
Proving obvious intoxication was present when a patron was served is necessary to demonstrate an establishment’s liability. However, without the expertise of a seasoned Texas lawyer, this will be a struggle. The dram shop laws and regulations pertaining to the sale of alcohol are complicated, and proving that an establishment recklessly overserved a patron is beyond the capabilities of the average individual.
A Houston dram shop attorney will help you navigate your dram shop claim, and if an agreement cannot be reached, help you file a dram shop lawsuit. Ensure the person responsible for your serious injuries and property damage is held liable for the car wreck. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, at 936-251-5246 to discuss your case today.