Texas Dram Shop LawyersLast updated on: August 4, 2022
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Victims of drunk driving accidents are all too aware of how terrible the consequences can be. Because of the irresponsible decision of another driver, victims and their families are too often left in a very difficult position, physically, mentally, and emotionally. While drunk drivers certainly may be liable in a drunk driving lawsuit, they are not the only party who might share in the liability. Texas dram shop lawyers can help you to analyze your case and determine who else may be liable for your injuries.
After being injured in a Texas drunk driving accident, contact the experienced attorneys at the Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation. Our team can help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation available and answer any questions that you may have along the way. We’re available to take your call 24/7, and you won’t pay us anything unless and until we win your case for you.
Texas dram shop laws
When a drunk driver crashes into a victim, the victim certainly may be able to sue the intoxicated driver for the damages that they sustain. However, the driver may not be the only party who shares in the liability for the accident. In some cases, liability may stretch back to the bar or tavern that sold the driver the alcohol. Bartenders and food service workers know that overserving a patron can be dangerous and illegal, and dram shop laws provide an avenue for accident victims to potentially seek compensation from the bar or tavern in addition to the driver of the vehicle.
The Texas law on dram shop liability states that a bar or retailer who served alcohol to a customer who was obviously intoxicated at the time may be liable for any injuries or damage that that patron goes on to cause later due to their drunkenness. These types of laws exist to reduce instances of dangerous conduct like drunk driving. If a bar knows that they could be held liable for serving an obviously intoxicated customer, then the hope is that they will be more careful.
One important note on bar liability for alcohol injuries is that the Texas dram shop law specifically excludes social hosts. That is, individuals who may overserve friends or family in their own home don’t share the same liability that a bar might. The exception to this social host immunity, however, is that someone can be held liable after serving alcohol in their own home if they serve that alcohol to someone who they know to be under the age of 18.
How to establish bar liability for drunk driving
The laws of some states say that any bar or tavern that serves alcohol to an intoxicated patron is automatically liable for any damages they cause afterwards. However, the bar in Texas is set a bit higher.
To start, you must be able to show that the patron was “obviously intoxicated” at the time that they were being served. This will most often depend on having circumstantial evidence that shows that this person was intoxicated. This testimony may come from another customer of the bar who was present at the time, or potentially even an expert toxicologist. Evidence that the person was intoxicated can include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, a comment made to the bartender about the fact that this person had been drinking, or even the quantity of alcohol that a witness saw them drink.
After establishing that the bar or tavern overserved an obviously intoxicated patron, someone looking to pursue a dram shop case must be able to show that the sale of alcohol was the proximate cause of their injuries. When an accident victim was injured by a drunk driver, this is usually the easier part of the process. However, it is possible that there are other causes for a given accident that would complicate a potential dram shop case.
Safe Harbor Defense
The Texas dram shop law contains a provision that provides protection from liability for establishments through what is known as the safe harbor defense if they follow certain requirements. These requirements include mandating their employees go through a TABC-approved training course, ensuring that the employee who was serving the patron attended this course, and proving that the establishment hadn’t directly or indirectly encouraged their employee to violate the law.
In any type of situation, a Texas drunk driving accident attorney may be able to help you determine if dram shop laws apply to your case and pursue the maximum compensation from all potential sources.
What to do after being injured by a drunk driver
Even though car accidents often come with a lot of physical, mental, and emotional anguish, it is important to remember that dram shop cases can be impacted by everything that happens starting from the moment the accident occurs. Taking the right steps and avoiding potential pitfalls after a collision is critical. There are a few general steps to take in any accident scenario, but talking with a Texas drunk driving accident attorney can help you narrow in on what is particularly important in your case.
Speak with Law Enforcement
If law enforcement is not called, make sure that you call them and have them respond to the scene of the crash. Speaking with the police is important because they will generate a report that may become an important piece of evidence in determining fault. Speaking with law enforcement as soon as possible after an accident occurs also gives you the opportunity to talk about what happened from your perspective while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Get Medical Attention if Injured
If you are not transported on an emergency basis straight from the scene of the accident, getting medical attention = as soon as you can is critical, even if your injuries don’t seem that major at the time. For one, certain injuries may not seem very serious at the time but could become worse if left untreated. Going to a doctor helps to catch and treat these kinds of injuries.
Getting medical attention quickly can also be helpful from a legal standpoint. Opposing attorneys or insurance companies may argue that your injuries weren’t actually related to the accident or that you had a chance to mitigate them if you take a long time to go to the doctor. Getting attention soon after the accident undermines their argument.
Gather Evidence While you need to prioritize your physical health, gathering evidence for your potential claim is also important. While you have the details of the accident fresh in your mind, make sure to write down everything that you remember. Also, get the contact information from other parties involved and any potential witnesses before you leave the scene.
Contact Texas Dram Shop Lawyers
Finally, consider hiring a Texas drunk driving accident attorney. An experienced attorney may be able to advise you on what your options are for moving forward. On top of this, they may be able to work with the facts of your case and develop an effective legal strategy for seeking the maximum compensation available.
Read more: What to Do After a Car Accident
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the amount of time within which to file a claim for a given incident. The exact amount of time that a victim has depends on what kind of accident they were involved in an the state in which they are filing. In Texas, the applicable statute of limitations for dram shop cases is two years. This means that the victim of a drunk driving case involving an overserved patron has two years from the date of their accident to file a claim. Claims brought outside of this window will likely be dismissed.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” for a period of time. Tolling the statute of limitations means pausing or delaying the time limit and allowing for cases to brought after more than two years have passed. For example, if the victim suffers from a mental defect as a result of the accident and isn’t able to understand a lawsuit, the statute of limitations may be tolled. The statute may also be tolled if the victim is a minor. In this case, they would have until they turned 20 to file a lawsuit.
Damages in Dram Shop Cases
Once you have answered the question of, “Can I sue a bar?” you may begin to wonder how much your case is worth. Dealing with the fallout from a serious car accident is expensive, and recovering a fair amount from a dram shop lawsuit may be your only way to stay afloat. The only way to get a clear understanding of how much your specific case could be worth is to talk with a Texas drunk driving accident lawyer, but damages generally fall into two different categories.
Economic damages represent a victim’s financial losses related to the accident. These damages certainly include economic losses that a victim has already incurred, but they also include reasonably anticipated future expenses that a victim has yet to pay. Some common examples of economic damages include medical costs, loss of income or future wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses like damage to property or travel expenses.
Non-economic damages refer to subjective, non-financial losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, or the loss of companionship. These kinds of damages are more difficult to estimate than economic damages because they aren’t supported by things like bills or receipts, but by testimony from the victim. While there is no easy way to estimate what these non-economic damages might be, the amount will generally be higher the more severe of impact an accident has on the life of a victim.
Drunk driving accident injuries
According to the NHTSA, roughly one person dies every 45 minutes as a result of drunk driving. Even when the result isn’t death, the consequences can still be extremely serious. Because alcohol lowers a driver’s reaction time and inhibits their ability to make good decisions, accidents where there is a drunk driver involved can involve higher speed collisions and worse outcomes. Below are some of the more common injuries resulting from drunk driving cases.
Neck injuries happen frequently in car accidents. One of the most common neck injuries is whiplash, in which the head is violently shaken back and forth, straining the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back. Neck injuries like this, and much worse, occur when a car traveling at high speeds comes to a sudden stop, or when a car at a stop is suddenly struck by another vehicle.
Scrapes and Cuts
Many accidents can lead to scrapes and cuts. These kinds of injuries come from broken glass, airbags, or any object that is inside your vehicle at the time of a collision. While cuts and scrapes are usually relatively minor and easy to deal with, they can lead to long-term complications like scarring or disfigurement.
If your accident has left you with an injury, whether it be life-threatening or less serious, a Texas drunk driving accident attorney may be able to help you seek compensation.
Read more: Common Car Accident Injuries
Call zinda law group today at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with Texas drunk driving lawyers
Car accidents, let alone drunk driving accidents, are very complicated. Adding the additional layer of liability through Texas’ dram shop law introduces additional complexity and requires the assistance of an attorney who has the experience to handle your case. If you were injured in a wreck involving a drunk driver, contact one of the Texas drunk driving attorneys at Zinda Law Group today.
Zinda Law Group attorneys have the expertise of a local firm combined with the resources of a nationwide operation. This means your case gets the individualized attention it deserves but is backed by sufficient strength to get the job done. We also believe that accident victims should never have to worry about their ability to afford quality legal representation, which is why we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case for you.
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