Known as “dram shop” cases, you can sue bars and restaurants for over-serving drunk drivers. Learn how these situations work in this post.

You can hold bars and restaurants, or any other establishment that serves alcohol, financially responsible for their part in over serving drunk drivers.

But it’s difficult to prove.

That’s because it’s hard for bartenders to know the BAC of someone at their bar. For some people, it’s easy to tell they’re heavily intoxicated. For others, it’s more difficult.

And how do they even know the person drove in the first place? For local bars that have the same crowd routinely, this might be more obvious. For bigger bars that attract different crowds, it’s nearly impossible.

Generally, in Texas, if the person is clearly and visibly intoxicated to employees and patrons, and the person is injured or causes injuries to others, then the bar bears responsibility for those injuries. Minors, if they are intoxicated at the time of sale, may also sue businesses for any injuries they sustain.

In Texas, dram shop liability is just a potential source of financial recovery for injured people like you. In other states, businesses can be held entirely liable for the injuries you or someone else sustains. Businesses can also be held proportionally liable for injuries you or another party sustains. For example, they could be responsible for 50% of the final awarded amount.

How is it Fair that People who Get Over-Served and Hurt Themselves Can Recover Compensation?

Sounds kind of ridiculous at first that you could be drunk, hit a tree, and sue the bar that served you for your injuries, doesn’t it?

Well, Texas law looks at it like this:

  1. Places that sell alcohol have a financial interest in selling as much alcohol as they can. From society’s perspective, we want to have safe roads. If alcohol sellers have financial responsibility for injuries caused by over-serving patrons, they have financial incentive to keep our roads safe, like society wants.
  2. Businesses that sell alcohol are our last line of defense against drunk driving. We want to incentivize them to take the right action and not sell to obviously intoxicated individuals to keep our roads safe.

Take a look at an example where a bar would likely be responsible for injuries a driver causes to herself:

An underage woman goes to a bar. She knows the bartender, and he knows she’s underage. He serves her anyway. And he serves her 5 potent drinks – martinis. The woman slurs her words, falls off the bar stool, and gets angry and disruptive with the bartender and other patrons. The bartender, who’s also been drinking himself (against Texas law), gives her several more shots before she leaves. As she drives away, she enters the road going the wrong way, causing a head-on collision with another car. She’s killed instantly. The bartender saw she was obviously intoxicated, yet served her alcohol anyway. Most likely, her family can recover compensation for her injuries.

So suing the bar, in this case, is both legal and fair. If you are in a similar situation, contact our Dallas injury lawyers today for a free consultation.