Under Texas law, establishments that sell alcohol can be held legally liable for serving clearly intoxicated customers or minors who go on to injure others. While these laws are primarily thought to apply to bars, liquor stores, clubs, etc. they also extend to social hosts. Social hosts are individuals who serve alcoholic beverages at home or at social functions they host. The difference is that a social host can only be liable for any harm caused by serving a minor.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Title 1, Chapter 2 has a provision often referred to as the “social host liability law.” Under this law, any adult who is at least 21 can be legally responsible for providing alcohol to a minor. However, the following elements must be present:
For example, suppose a 16-year-old named Lisa attends a friend Sarah’s birthday party at her home. Lisa decides to have a few beers that Sarah’s mom has out at the party. Sarah’s mom notices Lisa drinking the alcoholic beverages but does not say anything. Lisa leaves the party to drive home and crashes into a vehicle carrying a family of four. In this case, the family of four has the right to pursue a claim against Lisa for causing the car accident, but also against Sarah’s mom, under Texas’s social host liability law.
Social host liability and dram shop liability are established by nearly the same criteria. The two primary differences are the location where the alcohol is served and that social hosts are only liable for damages caused by minors. Social host liability typically pertains to private dwellings and events, whereas dram shop liability applies to businesses and establishments that sell alcohol. Additionally, in dram shop cases, an establishment can be liable for the harm caused by serving a minor but also adult patrons over the age of 21 who are overserved.
Social host liability claims are civil lawsuits meant to compensate the injured party for their losses. Potential damages include everything from current and future medical bills and lost wages to property damage and pain and suffering. Texas also has specific time limitations for social host liability cases. The claim itself has the same statute of limitations as other personal injury cases, which is 2 years. This means you have to file a lawsuit within 2 years of the time the injuries occurred, or you will lose your right to recover compensation.
Adding another defendant (at-fault party) to your lawsuit can make your case even more complex. Not only will you have to prove the intoxicated minor was responsible for your harm, but also the social host. We can help you understand and apply Texas’s social host liability laws to your situation and ensure the appropriate parties are held accountable. Call (888) 335-7477 or contact our Houston dram shop lawyer online today.