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Texas law is clear regarding the responsibility establishments have when serving alcohol. And when alcohol providers continuously serve an intoxicated individual on their premises, they could be liable for any damages.

The Law Giant has experience handling dram shop cases and will use their resources to determine who’s liable for your drunk driving accident. Call a Texas Dram shop lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.

What is Texas Dram Shop Law?

According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, an alcohol provider could be held liable for any damages caused by an intoxicated individual they served on their premises. The law defines an alcohol provider—or “Dram Shop”—as any premises that sells alcohol under the authority of a license or permit, such as a restaurant, liquor store, bar, sporting arena, and other establishments.

Elements Needed to Establish Liability in a Dram Shop Case

To make a successful claim against the at-fault establishment, you must prove that it was apparent to the provider that the individual being served was obviously intoxicated to the point where they presented a clear danger to themselves and others.

Social Host Liability in Dram Shop Cases

Establishments that serve alcohol aren’t the only ones that could be blamed for a drunk driving accident. A section of the Alcoholic Beverage Code states that adults 21 years of age or older could be liable for damages caused by the intoxication of a minor. In other words, if a minor goes to a cookout and an adult serves them alcohol, that adult could be at fault if the minor gets in an accident after they leave.

Elements Needed to Prove Fault in a Social Host Liability Case

To prove fault, you must show that the adult knowingly served alcohol to the minor or allowed the minor to be served alcohol on their property. According to Texas law, the adult must not be the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse. They must also not have legal custody of the minor.

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What Defenses Could the At-Fault Party Use?

The at-fault party and their insurer will limit their liability by any means necessary. The establishment might claim that too much time had passed between the serving of the alcohol and the accident.

A similar defense is that the accident occurred a far enough distance away from the alcohol provider that it must have been caused by another reason.

The provider might also argue that the driver’s intoxication wasn’t the direct cause of the accident. They might argue the accident was caused by poor weather conditions or a malfunctioning car part.

The liable party could also challenge the elements of the claim, stating that the individual was not obviously intoxicated and posed no threat to themselves or others.

What Evidence Could Help Strengthen Your Claim?

Despite whatever defenses the liable party might use, there are valuable pieces of evidence you could gather to strengthen your claim. This evidence includes the following:

Toxicology Reports

When a drunk driver causes a car accident, they will have their blood tested to determine their BAC. However, these tests don’t provide an accurate reading of someone’s BAC because of the time that has elapsed since the individual left the establishment that served them alcohol. An expert witness like a toxicologist analyzes the results of a BAC test to estimate the driver’s exact BAC when they left the establishment and when the accident occurred.

Eyewitness Testimony

An attorney could investigate your case and interview individuals who were present at the bar or restaurant. These witnesses could testify to the fact that the bartender or server overserved an obviously intoxicated individual.

Photo or Video Footage

Your attorney could request any video footage from the security cameras in the bar or restaurant and use them as evidence in your case. This footage might show how many drinks the bartender served the intoxicated individual and could also reveal the individual’s drunken behavior. Videos might show them stumbling around or otherwise acting belligerent.

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What Damages Could You Recover in a Dram Shop Claim?

You could have suffered monetary and non-monetary damages due to the Dram Shop’s negligence. These damages might include the following:

  • Current and ongoing medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental suffering
  • Physical pain
  • Reduced quality of life

It’s vital that you keep a record of all your expenses to ensure you receive full compensation. Furthermore, your attorney will work with you to put a value on all your non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering and reduced quality of life. The compensation you could expect to receive ultimately depends on the severity of your accident.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Dram shop liability claims can be very challenging to navigate. These claims need specific evidence to establish liability and they could require the help of expert witnesses. Your Texas Dram shop attorney has access to these resources and a thorough understanding of Texas law.

Even though the at-fault party might try to use available defenses to limit their liability, your attorney will use their legal knowledge to discredit these defenses to ensure you recover full compensation. If you can’t reach a fair settlement, your attorney could take your case to trial and present evidence that strengthens your claim.