Texas Dram Shop Lawyer

Why You Need a Dram Shop Lawyer 

Did you know it’s not just the intoxicated driver who can be held legally responsible for serious injuries and deaths in drunk driving accidents? We’re talking about the bars and restaurants that prioritized profit over safety and kept serving alcohol to someone who was clearly intoxicated.

Think about it. Without a drunk driver, there wouldn’t be a drunk driving accident. And you wouldn’t be cornered by confusing paperwork and unfair settlement offers from insurance companies while you’re still recovering from the accident.

A Texas dram shop lawyer can help you get the best possible settlement from any third parties involved in a drunk driving accident that led to serious injury or death.

However, dram shop lawsuits are time-sensitive and demand you to take many urgent steps to collect evidence and file paperwork for insurance and the legal petition.

But all you need to do is to take ONE step – call our expert team of Texas dram shop lawyers at Wyly & Cook for a FREE consultation.

With over 59 five-star reviews and counting, we have helped hundreds of drunk driving victims like you get comfortably compensated for their medical bills, damages to their vehicle, and loss of income. We’ll take charge of every step so you can focus all your energy on your recovery.

Texas Dram Shop Act 

In 1986, the Texas Supreme Court reviewed the case of El Chico v. Poole and ruled that bars share an essential responsibility in protecting the public from drunk driving. Therefore, they must avoid knowingly serving alcohol to someone already intoxicated.

However, only after the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Dram Shop Act did the process of taking legal action against these establishments become crystal clear.

Let’s make one thing clear. It doesn’t mean a drunk driver can get off the hook when it comes to any injury liabilities owed to you or your loved ones. Our team at Wyly & Cook can help you file a separate personal injury lawsuit for that along with a dram shop lawsuit to ensure anyone who uses or sells alcohol irresponsibly will pay dearly.

This is exactly what the Texas Dram Shop Act was introduced for. Governed by Chapter 2 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, it aims to ensure all bars protect their patrons and the public from the dangers of drunk driving.

Let’s take a look at the two violations that all establishments serving alcohol must avoid under the Texas Dram Shop Act:

  • Serving or selling alcohol to minors.
  • Serving or selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated customers.

You can’t prosecute these establishments as accomplices in a DWI accident. However, they can face criminal and civil penalties thanks to the Texas Dram Shop Act.

Filing a Claim

You need to know if you’re eligible to file a dram shop lawsuit before you start evaluating how much compensation you’re owed.

Here’s a list of individuals who can file a dram shop lawsuit against an alcohol provider:

  • Any driver injured in a drunk driving accident.
  • Any car passenger injured in a drunk driving accident.
  • Any pedestrian or bicyclist hit by an intoxicated driver.
  • A family member of someone killed by the drunken driver.
  • The drunk driver.

That was easy to figure out. However, the next part is where it gets tricky – proving liability.

Only an experienced Texas dram shop lawyer will be able to evaluate how many parties are liable in your lawsuit, whether it’s bartenders, store owners, clerks, bars and restaurants, or any other third parties.

More importantly, they will immediately start gathering all the essential evidence needed to back up your dram shop lawsuit, including:

  • Receipts from alcohol providers clearly showing the date, time, and type of alcohol sold to make a connection with the time of the drunk driving accident.
  • Investigations led by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
  • Video footage of the intoxicated person inside and around the establishment.
  • Witness statements.
  • Police and toxicology reports.
  • Field sobriety test reports.

Texas laws are particularly tricky when it comes to dram shop cases. As alcohol-serving establishments are not legally required to hold liquor liability insurance, there’s a chance you won’t be compensated even if you win your case.

Does that mean you’ll be left licking your wounds with nothing to show for it?

Not on our watch!

Our expert team of Texas dram shop lawyers at Wyly & Cook will evaluate every little detail to build up a bulletproof case.

Whether it’s coordinating with the establishment owners, insurance companies, or police officers, we’ll cover all bases and prove every liability beyond deniability.

Defenses against a Dram Shop Claim

Social hosts usually never face any liabilities for the actions of the guests who consumed alcohol on their premises. However, there are a couple of cases where this defense will not stand:

  • If the host is at least 21 years old and served alcohol to unrelated minors under 18. In that case, they may be liable for any injuries or damages caused by the intoxicated minor.
  • If a social host charges a fee for alcohol, they become an unlicensed alcohol provider and lose the social host exemption. So, if they knowingly served someone who was clearly intoxicated, the host may face similar liabilities as a Texas bar or restaurant.

Many alcohol-selling businesses know how dram shop lawsuits can bleed them dry financially. So naturally, they try to minimize the responsibility of their employees’ overserving patrons by using the Safe Harbor Defense provision under the Texas Dram Shop Act.

The Safe Harbor Defense ensures an employer can’t be held liable for an employee overserving alcohol as long as:

  • All employees are required to take a two-hour course on alcohol serving and awareness offered by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
  • The employee under investigation has completed the course and;
  • The employer was not directly or indirectly involved in encouraging the employee to keep serving the intoxicated patron.

However, you can’t draw a line in the sand and assume all these defenses will stand in the face of a dram shop lawsuit. It’s possible that the alcohol provider may not have enough proof to document their claims or have flat-out lax standards when it comes to enforcing employee discipline. Either way, only an expert Texas dram shop lawyer can help you separate a legitimate claim from a bogus one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dram shop lawyer?

A dram shop lawyer is an attorney who specializes in helping you pursue damages against any establishment responsible for overserving alcohol to their customers who were clearly intoxicated.

What is the Texas Dram Shop Act?

The Texas Dram Shop Act allows victims of drunk driving accidents to file lawsuits against any establishment when a patron over-served by them caused property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death.

Who can file a claim against a negligent third party under the Texas Dram Shop Act?

The Texas Dram Shop Act allows the following people to file a claim against negligent alcohol providers for seeking compensation:

  • Any driver injured in a drunk driving accident.
  • Any car passenger injured in a drunk driving accident.
  • Any pedestrian or bicyclist hit by an intoxicated driver.
  • A family member of someone killed by the intoxicated driver.
  • The drunk driver.

Who can be held liable in dram shop law cases?

Generally, you can pursue a dram shop lawsuit against:

  • Establishments that served alcohol to minors.
  • Establishments that over-served alcohol to a patron who was clearly intoxicated, which led to the accident.
  • A social host serving alcohol to unrelated minors, which led to damages or injuries while they were intoxicated.
  • A social host charged their guests a fee for alcohol and continuously served alcohol to someone who was already clearly intoxicated.

What defenses can be used against a dram shop claim?

The laws of Texas clearly state that any alcohol-serving establishment is only liable for their part in causing damages or injuries.

Some of the most common dram shop claim defenses include the Safe Harbor provision, social host exemptions, establishing a new and independent cause of injury, assumption of risk, and failure of victims to limit their injuries or damages.

Are social host exemptions and safe harbor defenses a guarantee against a dram shop claim?

Not necessarily. Without the guidance of an expert Texas dram shop lawyer, it’s hard to evaluate liability and understand how much responsibility is to be shared between the drunk driver, the injured parties, and the employees of the bar or restaurant that served alcohol.

So don’t hesitate! Call us NOW.

A FREE consultation today could help you get the rightful compensation you deserve tomorrow.