It’s not a surprise that many who enter bars and similar establishments often leave intoxicated. As you may imagine, consuming so much alcohol that it affects one’s physical capabilities and decision-making skills has potentially dangerous consequences. Fortunately, victims who suffered injuries caused by someone else’s drunken negligence can often hold that person accountable. What’s more, Texas allows victims to also hold those responsible for serving the alcohol accountable, as well.
Texas Dram Shop Laws
“Dram shops” are establishments in which alcohol is sold to and consumed by patrons: bars and taverns are considered dram shops. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2, people who are injured by customers of these dram shops who became intoxicated while patronizing the establishment may be able to go after the shops for compensation related to their injuries.
In order to have a case against the dram shop, the plaintiff has to prove that the establishment continued to serve the customer alcohol even after he was visibly intoxicated to the extent that he was a danger to himself or others, and that alcohol was the specific cause of the accident.
Additionally, Texas dram shop laws also allow minors to sue these establishments for any injuries they incurred as a result of the tavern or bar serving them alcohol illegally.
The Evidence You’ll Need
The evidence needed in order to hold a dram shop accountable for negligence varies by state. Some states impose a “strict liability” rule, which means that the establishments are found guilty of negligence simply by selling the alcohol to the defendant. Additionally, strict liability also means that the bar will be held absolutely liable for any injuries that occur.
Texas, however, is not one of these states. Here, dram shop liability only covers a portion of the compensation that is to be rewarded to a plaintiff, and drinking establishments are also not automatically liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated person.
Social Host Liability Laws
In addition to dram shop laws, Texas also has a social host liability law. This law allows injured parties to seek damages from hosts aged 21 and older who served alcohol to minors who then caused injuries to another person because of their intoxication, if:
- The adult is not the guardian, legal custodian, or spouse of the minor, and
- The host knowingly served or provided alcohol to a minor or allowed the minor to drink alcohol on his property
Damages Victims Can Seek Under the Texas Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop and social host liability claims are considered civil lawsuits in Texas. This means that the plaintiff files his case in court and, with the help of an attorney, sues the company or business that provided or served the alcohol to the negligent person. If the plaintiff wins, he can claim monetary damages, including:
- Compensation for lost and damaged property
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, including lost earning capacity from partial or total disability caused by the accident
As with most types of cases, dram law claims have a statute of limitations, which is the time period that the victim has before it is too late to file a claim. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from when the injury takes place. If you fail to make a claim within that time period, the court will likely not take your claim into consideration.
Don’t Wait Until it Is Too Late
If you’re thinking about filing a claim, it’s important to do so as soon as possible so that you don’t miss your opportunity. An attorney from Wayne Wright can help you determine if you are still eligible to file a claim, and can answer any questions you have about your situation. Schedule an appointment to speak with a legal professional by calling 800-237-3334.