What Is the Dram Shop Act?
Imagine this: You are driving home from work one day when suddenly another vehicle crosses the middle line and strikes you head-on. You seek medical treatment for your broken ribs, concussion, and fractured arm. Your hospital bills mount to $100,000 and you’re out of work for three months. You also have physical therapy every week to regain muscle strength. But when you go to file an insurance claim but learn that the 17-year-old drunk driver only had the state minimum liability insurance of $30,000 in personal injury. So, what do you do?
Fortunately, lawmakers anticipated this issue and have passed various so-called “dram shop” laws to deal with it. These laws let you pursue a cause of action against bars, liquor stores, clubs, or alcohol retailers that enabled a drunk driver to cause you damages. If you would like to know if you may have a claim against another person or social host that served the drunk driver who injured you, contact Tate Law Offices, P.C. for immediate legal assistance.
What Is Texas’s Dram Shop Law?
Texas’s dram shop law allows personal injury victims to pursue damages against alcohol providers who:
- Served alcohol to a patron when it was apparent to the provider that the patron was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others,” and
- The patron’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the damages the victim suffered.
Are Social Hosts Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents?
Social host liability, where a private person is financially responsible for the damages caused by a drunk driver on their property or for their event, under the Alcoholic Beverage Code’s cause of action only extends in cases where the drunk driver is a minor under 18 years of age. Additionally, the following conditions must apply:
- The defendant is 21 years of age or older,
- The defendant is not the minor’s parent, custodian, or spouse, and
- The defendant served the minor any of the alcoholic beverages that contributed to their intoxication or allowed the minor to be served any of the alcoholic beverages that contributed to their intoxication on the property they owned or leased.
What Do I Have to Prove in a Dram Shop Case?
What you have to prove depends on what type of claim you are filing.
To hold a retailer or server of alcoholic beverages responsible, you have to show:
- The patron was obviously intoxicated
- The retailer or server could tell the patron was drunk, and
- If the patron wouldn’t have been drunk, you would not have been injured
Social Host Liability
To make a social host financially liable for your injuries, you must show:
- The host served an alcoholic beverage to a minor or allowed the minor to be served on the property they owned or leased
- The host was not the minor’s parent, guardian, custodian, or spouse
- The host is 21 years of age or older, and
- If the minor wouldn’t have drank alcohol, you would not have been injured.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Texas drunk driving accident victims can seek compensatory damages, as well as non-compensatory damages, including:
- Past and future medical bills, including hospitalization costs, follow-up treatment, medication, and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages and benefits, including time you missed from work while recovering or attending medical appointments
- Lost earning capacity for partial or total disability caused by the collision
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle or other personal property
- Pain and suffering
You may be able to seek this compensation from the intoxicated person, as well as any alcohol retailer or social host who contributed to your accident. You generally have two years from the date of the collision to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties, per Texas’s statute of limitations.
How a Texas Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Texas dram shop cases are often complex. The defendant will do anything to avoid liability for their reckless choice to serve the intoxicated person alcohol. You can plan on them denying liability altogether or offering a lowball settlement that doesn’t come close to fully compensating you for the damages you sustained. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at Tate Law Offices, P.C. can help you by:
- Leveling the playing field against greedy insurance companies and defendants who want to try to avoid liability
- Aggressively pursuing the monetary compensation you deserve, which we can help determine based on the damages you suffered and the particular circumstances surrounding your claim
- Offering you solid legal advice from one of our knowledgeable drunk driving accident lawyers who have received recognition for their excellent track record of success, such as Tim Tate who is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for securing multiple multimillion-dollar awards for his clients.
- Representing your best interests in and out of the courtroom. We will first try to resolve your claim as efficiently as possible through an insurance claim, but we aren’t afraid to fight for you in court if that’s what it takes to secure fair compensation for your claim.
- Guiding you through the legal process with care and compassion. There is nothing more important to us than showing that we care and earning your trust.
- Providing you with local referrals. Our legal team serves the local community and can refer you to trusted doctors and car rental companies who will be sensitive to what you have gone through.
At Tate Law Offices, P.C., we treat every client like we would want one of our loved ones to be treated if they had been injured in a car accident. Our firm is driven by the principles of care and compassion in all we do.
Contact Tate Law Offices, P.C. for Your Free Case Review
If you or a loved one was recently injured in a drunk driving accident, our skilled legal team can investigate to determine if you may have a dram shop or social host liability claim. We want you to recover the maximum compensation to which you are entitled and will fight for a fair result. We represent clients in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and other areas throughout Texas. Through our contingency fee agreement, we charge no fees unless you collect compensation on your claim. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation case review.