Temple Dram Shop LawyersLast updated on: July 31, 2022
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If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to sue not only the one who hit you but also whoever provided the drunk driver with alcohol. Texas has strict laws on serving alcohol, known as dram shop liability laws. These laws provide that if a bar or restaurant is negligent in serving alcohol and the person served injures others, they can be held liable. That’s why it’s important to know Temple dram shop lawyers in the event of an accident.
Our Temple dram shop lawyers have advocated for many clients in these types of cases and can help you too. When victims and their families come to us, we examine the facts of each case to determine their options for making a financial recovery. We accurately assess the viability of dram shop claims and advocate on behalf of injured victims.
What is Dram Shop Liability?
Assigning liability for alcohol-related injuries against the person who served alcohol irresponsibly is known as “dram shop liability.” Dram shop liability also applies to businesses and licensed retailers that provide alcohol, like bars and restaurants. In general, dram shop liability subjects alcohol providers to legal responsibility for civil damages when they irresponsibly serve alcohol to a person who afterward causes harm to another person.
History of Dram Shop Laws
The name “dram shop” is derived from an 18th-century English term for merchants who sold gin by the “dram” (spoonful). To this day, places that sell alcoholic beverages are still referred to as “dram shops.” However, when this term was first used to describe liquor retailers, the law did not recognize injuries caused by irresponsible service as a cause of action.
Bar liability for alcohol injuries was a foreign concept to the English common law. Back then, if a victim asked, “Can I sue a bar for my injuries?” they might get an odd look from a wigged barrister. Today, states have their own dram shop laws that address bar liability for drunk driving and enable injured victims to sue alcohol providers for negligently serving the drunk customer who injured them.
Purpose of Dram Shop Laws
Alcohol-related accidents often have catastrophic outcomes. For example, according to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving accidents cause an average of 32 deaths per day in the United States.
After an accident, it may become apparent that the person who injured you has limited insurance coverage such that they might not be able to properly pay you for the harm they’ve caused you. Dram shop liability statutes enable you to pursue compensation from the alcohol provider. This option is particularly advantageous when considering that licensed alcohol providers often have greater financial resources than the average person.
If you or one of your family members have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to recover more compensation from the person who sold alcohol to the drunk driver than from the defendant himself. A Temple drunk driving accident attorney can help you understand your legal recovery options.
Establishing Dram Shop Liability
Currently, dram shop laws are in place in 42 states, including Texas. These rules enable victims of drunk driving accidents to file a lawsuit against a third party, such as a bar or social host, who irresponsibly served the drunk driver. Texas law sets out the requirements that must be met for a plaintiff to have a cause of action for dram shop liability.
Temple Dram Shop Laws
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code grants individuals who were injured in an alcohol-related accident the right to sue the alcohol provider for being the proximate cause of their injuries. The term “provider” is defined by the statute to mean a person who sells or serves an alcoholic beverage under a permit or who otherwise sells an alcoholic beverage. For example, a Temple drunk driving accident lawyer would likely refer to the bartender as an “alcohol provider.”
Unlike in many jurisdictions, Temple dram shop laws do not explicitly hold social hosts responsible for damages. However, the statute does prohibit people over the age of 21 from serving alcohol to minors under the age of 18. Consequently, a social host can still face charges for giving alcohol to a minor even at a private party or event.
The Legal Standard
In dram shop liability cases, it’s usually the plaintiff’s responsibility to provide evidence of the establishment’s negligence. Typically, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the person selling alcohol to the customer knew or should have known the customer was intoxicated or underage. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code requires that plaintiffs bringing a claim under this title must be able to show that:
- It was apparent to the provider that the individual being served alcohol was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.
- The intoxication of the individual being served was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.
Under this title, a cause of action also exists against adults over the age of 21 serving alcohol to minors under the age of 18. The statute provides that a cause of action exists against a social host if the plaintiff can prove that:
- The adult is not the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse.
- The adult knowingly provided the alcohol to the minor or allowed the minor to be served.
Generally, the degree to which the defendant acted recklessly will affect the amount that the victim will receive in damages.
Can Someone Be Sure Another Person Is Visibly Intoxicated?
Everyone likes to think of themselves as an expert at recognizing signs of intoxication. However, it’s important to remember that these signs can differ greatly from person to person. As a Temple drunk driving accident attorney would tell, people under the influence of alcohol often exhibit signs of their drunkenness by:
- Slurring their speech
- Leaning against a bar for support
- Fumbling with cash or a wallet
- Swaying while trying to stand still, etc.
According to dram shop and liquor liability law, a bar or restaurant cannot be held responsible for harms or losses brought on by inebriated patrons if there was no reasonable basis for believing that the patron was intoxicated. In other words, bar liability for alcohol injuries is negated if there was no reason for the alcohol provider to know that the patron was drunk. For example, even though a drunk driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the person may not have exhibited any signs of intoxication while at the bar.
In cases involving a bar’s culpability, some forms of evidence are particularly crucial for establishing liability. For instance, according to previous cases of dram shop liability, the following constitutes proof of the bar’s negligence:
- Serving a customer without asking for identification of their age
- Serving a person who seemed to be drunk
- Serving a customer after hours
- “Overservicing” a customer
“Safe Harbor” Provision
Some dram shop laws offer protection to servers and sellers under “safe harbor provisions” if the business can show that servers participate in:
- Recognized training programs
- Promoting of nonalcoholic beverages
- Advising customers to call a cab or use ride-sharing services if they’ve had too much to drink.
However, the success rate of this defense is quite low for commercial retailers.
Our Temple dram shop lawyers are familiar with these causes of action and potential defenses. If you were injured in a car accident, for example, a skilled Temple drunk driving accident attorney might be able to preemptively dispel a safe harbor defense by obtaining testimony or other evidence to support the facts of your case. To speak with a Temple drunk driving accident lawyer near you who is experienced in building cases for third-party lawsuits, call (800) 863-5312 today.
Types of Dram Shop Liability Cases
By now, you know that dram shop liability statutes give victims the opportunity to sue alcohol providers for their injuries. However, it is important to know the distinctions between two categories of dram shop cases: first-party cases and third-party cases.
First-Party Dram Shop Cases
First-party dram shop claims are brought when the person who is irresponsibly served wants to sue the bartender or place of business that served them to get paid for the harm or property damage they may have caused while intoxicated. However, because of social principles, it’s believed that people should be accountable for their alcohol consumption. Simply put, jurors are not easily convinced that a bar owes its patrons money when a patron injured themselves or caused injuries to another.
Third-Party Dram Shop Cases
Third-party dram shop claims are far more common. Third-party dram shop cases involve alcohol providers irresponsibly serving the person who caused your injuries. In this scenario, you would be considered a third-party victim and may file a lawsuit against the business for damages.
An illustration of this would be if a person who was drinking in a bar and was obviously intoxicated continued to be served alcohol and later was involved in an automobile accident. The injured, drunk driving victims could sue the restaurant and perhaps also the bartender who served the drunk driver excessive alcohol.
Time Limits on Dram Shop Claims
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, in Texas your dram shop claim must be brought within two years from the date of your injuries. Failing to file a claim during this period may automatically prevent your claim from being heard by a court. This duration of time that you have to file is referred to as the statute of limitations.
A complete dram shop lawsuit demands a substantial amount of time to gather evidence, more so than nearly any other kind of personal injury case. To this point, waiting too long to file raises the likelihood that important evidence will be lost and destroyed, and consequently, your lawyer would not be able to perform a complete investigation.
Without a complete record of evidence, your claim is weaker than it otherwise would be. Therefore, it is important to act quickly.
What Happens If You Wait to File?
Claimants who attempt to file beyond the statute of limitations period are effectively barred from bringing their claim. As mentioned, the clock begins to run when the offenses are committed, and your claim can be rejected if the deadline passes before civil proceedings get started.
Additionally, the amount of time that passed before you file could make it difficult for you to obtain compensation for your losses. While the statute of limitations clock can be tolled or delayed in some states under specific conditions, the tolling of the clock implies that you are legally not able to bring a claim. Most clients who find themselves in this position have suffered injuries affecting their mental faculties or are too young to bring claims.
Judges often look at deadline issues and the statute of limitations to quickly dismiss cases. Ideally, a court would still permit a stale case to proceed if the defendant doesn’t bring up the limitation issues with the judge. However, the defendant is likely to use the statute of limitation to defend themselves against your claims. As an affirmative defense, the statute of limitations enables the defendant to ask the court to dismiss a lawsuit because the time to file has passed.
What Damages Can I recover?
At Zinda Law Group we believe in the pursuit of compensation for injured victims. In dram shop accident cases, our clients usually request compensation for:
- Medical Expenses
- Costs of replacing lost or destroyed property
- Lost Wages
- Distress and suffering
Dram shop claims are considered civil actions and therefore, you can demand damages for both economic and noneconomic losses. Noneconomic losses are based on the ramifications and implications of the accident, whereas economic damages are based on actual money losses.
Economic damages refer to hard-quantifiable costs, such as the cost of medical care or the replacement of property. Medical costs are one of the most sought-after economic damages.
Even minor injuries require medical attention, and ambulance rides and hospital stays are costly. Most plaintiffs seek reimbursement for medical costs along with all other quantifiable damages associated with their injuries.
Non-economic damages refer to the cost of intangible-unquantifiable losses. Damages for pain and suffering make up most noneconomic losses, which is understandable considering mental and emotional anguish brought on by injuries often make it difficult for the victims to enjoy life as they did before the accident. These kinds of damages are often the hardest fought for, and we’ve had to battle before to help get the compensation our clients deserve.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the court seeks to address a plaintiff’s particularly egregious conduct. The Texas dram shop statute is silent on the subject of exemplary and punitive damages, and there are some cases that suggest that the legislature intended for dram shop liability to only extend to compensatory damages. However, the types of damages available and how your damages are calculated depend upon the facts of each case.
Schedule your free case evaluation with Zinda Law Group Temple Dram Shop Lawyers today
Unfortunately, there are many cases of alcohol providers irresponsibly serving someone and then that person causing an accident. When you’ve been injured in an accident because someone was irresponsibly served, the Temple dram shop lawyers from Zinda Law Group are here help you. To get started with your 100% free case evaluation, call us at (800) 863-5312.
After your case evaluation, we can start helping you by communicating with other parties and collecting evidence. Plus, we will do this at no cost to you unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your case – that’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.