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Suing Texas Liquor Servers for Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers

If a drunk driver injures you after they have consumed alcohol provided by a restaurant or bar, you might be able to seek compensation from the serving establishment for all your losses and damages.

Lawsuits brought against liquor servers for supplying alcohol to someone who was already intoxicated are commonly referred to as dram shop cases. In the state of Texas, liquor liability cases are governed by the Texas Dram Shop Act. Any establishment that sells, serves or otherwise supplies alcohol to people is subject to the Act. Establishments do not have to be licensed to fall in scope under the legislation, and unlicensed providers are treated the same and equally accountable under the Act.

An accident victim must prove two things to hold a liquor server responsible:

  • The establishment knew or should have known that the driver was already intoxicated when beginning or continuing to serve the driver alcohol and that the degree of the driver’s intoxication presented a clear danger to himself and others.
  • There must be evidence to support that the driver’s consumption of alcohol and intoxication was the proximate cause of the damages suffered by the accident victim.

For example, if a drunk driver fails to stop at a stop sign and causes an accident, the driver’s intoxication would be a proximate cause of the crash. However, suppose that the drunk driver is at a complete stop behind another vehicle while awaiting their turn at a four-way stop. If the drunk driver is rear-ended, thus forcing his or her car into the car in front, then the driver’s intoxication might still be considered a contributing cause of the accident, which means a lawsuit against the serving establishment is still possible.

Collecting and preserving evidence such as blood alcohol levels and eyewitness statements are critical in a dram shop case, so quickly hiring an attorney can be vital to the victim’s case.

Liquor servers are responsible for looking for behavioral signs that indicate a patron is intoxicated before serving or continuing to serve alcohol to them.  Indications that an individual is already intoxicated include:

  • Powerful smell of alcohol
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to walk without staggering
  • Violent or aggressive behavior

Individuals who host a private party and serve alcoholic beverages to guests are referred to as “social hosts” and are not subject to dram shop laws. Social hosts, however, can be sued for alcohol-related injuries or deaths if they serve alcohol to a minor and that minor child is not their own.

Leland Reinhard Law Firm assists clients throughout Johnson, Hill, Somervell and Hood counties with a broad scope of personal injury matters, including cases that involve drunk driving. Call 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my Cleburne office.