If you were hit by a drunk driver, you may be able to sue a bar if it overserved the driver. These cases fall under Texas’s dram shop laws.
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What is Dram Shop Liability?
Dram shop liability holds establishments that serve alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, etc., legally responsible for the harm caused by serving alcohol to an already intoxicated patron or a minor. For a bar to be liable under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Title 1, Chapter 2, the following two elements must be present:
(a) The defendant (at-fault party) sold, served, or provided alcohol to a patron although it was obvious that they were intoxicated to the extent that they presented a clear danger to themselves and others; and
(b) the patron’s level of intoxication after being over-served was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s (victim’s) damages (e.g., injuries, property damage, pain and suffering, etc.).
For example, suppose an individual stops at a bar and is slurring when they order a drink. The bartender notices but still sells them the alcohol they ordered. When the overserved patron leaves the bar to drive home, they crash into your vehicle. You then have the right to pursue a claim against the drunk driver and also the bar that served them. Depending on your unique case, the bar may be found entirely or partially responsible for your injuries.
Holding a Bar Accountable after a DUI or Alcohol-Related Accident
It is important to understand that a bar will not automatically be liable if they served a drink to the driver that hit your vehicle. You must be able to prove the bar was negligent, which will involve establishing that the driver’s level of intoxication would have been obvious to a reasonable person. Yet, the bar failed to notice or intentionally disregarded it. Examples of negligence can include:
Lack of procedures for when a customer should be cut off from service.
Lack of training for staff to recognize signs of intoxication.
Staff turning a blind eye to overconsumption.
Incentivizing drink sales without instructing staff to look for signs of overconsumption and to cut off service when appropriate.
Failure to check IDs.
Potential evidence in your case might be video footage from inside or outside the bar, testimony from staff, witnesses, or a toxicology expert, etc.
How Long Do I Have to Sue a Bar after an Alcohol-Related Accident?
Like other injury claims, you have two years from the date of the accident or injury to pursue a dram shop claim against a bar. This two-year period begins on the date of the accident or injury. If you fail to pursue compensation within that time, you will lose the ability to sue.
DUI and alcohol-related car accidents often result in severe injuries that not only cause immediate medical bills but also other dramatic life changes. With so much on the line and the complexity involved in suing a bar, it is crucial to get a professional on your side who knows how to successfully navigate these cases. Call (888) 335-7477 or send us a message online to speak to a Houston dram shop lawyer in a free consultation today.