If you suffer an injury in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against that person. However, in some circumstances, it may be possible to hold establishments and other third parties who have provided the drunk driver with alcohol. These are considered as “dram shop” situations. A dram shop is the equivalent of a modern-day bar, restaurant, club, or any other commercial business that serves alcohol.
Dram shop laws hold bars, restaurants, and other vendors responsible for providing alcohol to individuals who are obviously intoxicated. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was in an obvious state of intoxication to the extent where they can pose a danger to himself/herself and others. This means that the bar or restaurant served alcohol to a customer that it knew or should have known was drunk. The legal BAC limit in all U.S. states is .08% -- any individual who exceeds this limit has a higher risk of causing an accident.
Texas law requires bartenders to consider the following signs of potential “obvious” intoxication:
- The number of drinks the person has had
- The type of drinks that the person has received
- Slurred speech
- Loud voice
- Profane language
- Using walls and other surfaces to balance oneself
- Violent behavior
- Overly sexual behavior
- Difficulty answering questions
Furthermore, social host liability law enables an injured party to seek damages from a person who is 21 years of age or older that intentionally provides alcohol to a minor and is not a parent or legal guardian of the minor.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense?
The Texas Dram Shop Act has a clause that protects drinking establishments from civil claims, known as the Safe Harbor Defense. If an establishment can prove they followed certain guidelines, they may be exempt from a lawsuit.
Requirements establishments must follow in order to be exempt include:
- Having all employees attend a TABC-approved seller training program
- Ensuring employees attended the program
- Have proof that they haven’t directly or indirectly encouraged their employees to violate the law
It can be more of a challenge to prove dram shop liability in Texas than in other states as a result. After you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to assess whether a restaurant or other establishment played a role in causing your injuries.
Holding Drivers Responsible for Negligence
At the Law Office of James M. Stanley, we don’t believe our injured clients should suffer any more than they already have because of a drunk driver’s negligence. If you were harmed in a car accident and the driver was drunk, you deserve justice. Drunk drivers who are arrested at the scene will have criminal charges pressed against them by the court, but you still are entitled to secure the compensation you need to pay for financial damages. Our personal injury attorneys can recover damages including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering through thorough investigation and preparation on your case. We also offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis so you have less to worry about.
Call (817) 591-4222, or contact us onlinefor a free consultation after you’ve been injured by a drunk driver. The Law Office of James M. Stanley has advocated for injured victims since 1976 and has represented thousands of clients in personal injury.