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About Dram Shop Liability Claims

Can a bar or restaurant be sued for over-serving a drunk driver?

Known as “dram shop” cases, you can sue bars, restaurants, or any other establishment that serves alcohol for over-serving drunk drivers. If they do that they can be held financially responsible for their part in an injury accident or death.

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 in a motor vehicle collision, 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.

How do you establish a driver was “obviously intoxicated” while he was at a bar or restaurant?

Witness testimony is very important in establishing the driver was obviously intoxicated. Bar and restaurant employees are unlikely to be helpful so other customers are usually the best source of information. In addition, the driver’s blood alcohol content in conjunction with the timing of when he left the bar or restaurant is also of critical importance.

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 of a personal injury claim.

If you were harmed by someone who was over-served contact our Dallas dram shop lawyers today for a free consultation.

Can people who get over-served and hurt themselves 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 dram shop lawyers today for a free consultation.

Contact our dram shop liquor liability attorneys in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, or Fort Worth now. We want to discuss the specifics of your claim. Find out how our Dallas personal injury law firm, with 38 years of experience, can help!

Call (214) 747-5240 now or use the quick contact form on this page to request a free consultation. There is never a fee for our legal services unless we obtain a financial recovery for you.

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