Allen Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Call Attorney E. Michael Grossman Following a Drunken Driving or Dram Shop Accident Resulting in Injury
If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to a drunk driving accident, then you will more than likely have the grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in order to secure the restitution that you deserve for the suffering that you have experienced due to an alcohol-related accident.
Texas dram shop law is applicable when a drunk driving accident involves a bar, restaurant or other type of alcohol-serving establishment, but many people who are affected by this kind of accident are not aware of how this law applies. If it can be proven that this sort of establishment negligently over-served a customer who later caused a drunk driving accident, then it can be held partially liable for any financial losses (referred to in legal terms as "damages") incurred by the victims of that accident. Not only the drunk driver will face liability for the accident, but also the establishment that over-served that drunk driver and allowed him or her to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. There are several rational reasons that Texas dram shop law is in existence, even though at first blush it can seem like a very confusing legal notion. The Allen drunk driving accident lawyers with Grossman Law Offices provide you this article in an effort to explain some of the basics of drunk driving accident law, the purpose of Texas dram shop law, and the process of attempting to secure restitution for your accident-related damages from the liable parties that either contributed to the accident or caused it outright.
We need to make it perfectly clear from the outset, however, that this article is only meant to give basic information in regard to how the law applies to a drunk driving accident. This article is not in any way meant to act as any sort of substitute for the counsel of an actual lawyer who knows the specific details of your case. If you would like to talk to one of our Allen drunk driving accident lawyers, please call Grossman Law Offices as soon as you can at 1-855-326-0000 for a free and confidential consultation.
The Severe Nature of Drunk Driving Accidents
More than likely, you have seen numerous news reports of drunk driving accidents in the Metroplex and other areas of Texas that resulted in one or more fatalities. Therefore, it is fairly obvious to you just how severe these particular kinds of accidents can be. Not only can this kind of accident result in substantial property damage and significant, long-term injuries, but, of course, tragic deaths as well. An accident involving a drunk driver is often much more serious than one that does not involve an intoxicated driver. As a result, there can be a very significant amount of money on the line. In order to successfully pursue compensation, an injury victim or the grieving family members of a fatality victim will have to win an extremely complex and technical case. The potentially vast sum of money at stake creates much of this complexity, but the fact that there may be several parties that face liability only adds another layer to that complexity. In many drunk driving accidents, there can be more than one liable party that either causes the accident outright or contributes to it. In order to have the best possible chance of obtaining the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled, it is imperative that you have a seasoned and skilled Allen drunk driving accident lawyer working on your behalf to make sure your rights are protected. At Grossman Law Offices, our Allen drunk driving accident lawyers have been representing clients in these kinds of cases for two decades. Because of our extensive experience, we know how to provide our clients with their best opportunity to secure the restitution that you deserve for the suffering you have experienced.
The Possible Liable Parties in an Allen Drunk Driving Accident Case
Whenever any sort of accident results in a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit, one of the first issues that has to be determined is which party or parties are liable. In other words, you have to identify the parties that are to blame for the accident that took place. It is obvious that the drunk driver is the first liable party in an Allen drunk driving accident. The drunk driver responsible for causing this sort of accident resulting in an injury or a death has violated his or her legal duty of care that is owed to the accident victim. Almost every person who operates a motor vehicle owes every other person sharing the road (other drivers, passengers and pedestrians) the duty to operate that vehicle in a reasonable fashion so that no others on the road are injured. That drunk driver, because he or she is in violation of that duty, can face responsibility for negligence through the means of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The injury victim or grieving family member of a drunk driving accident fatality victim can take this kind of legal action in an attempt to obtain compensation from the intoxicated driver for the injury or loss that has been suffered.
There are, however, as stated earlier, often times several other parties that can face liability when a drunk driving accident takes place. Often, a bar, restaurant or other alcohol-serving establishment is one of these liable parties because it has committed negligence that helped contribute to this kind of accident. As stated earlier, when a drunk driving accident results in an injury or a fatality, Texas dram shop law allows victims to target these establishments with legal action. If it can be proven the establishment helped contribute to the accident due to over-serving the intoxicated driver, that establishment will be assigned a portion of the liability, and compelled to pay the victim or victim’s family a percentage of the total compensation that is awarded. The legal blood alcohol limit in Texas is .08 percent. When an alcohol-serving establishment such as a restaurant or bar serves a customer to the point that his or her blood alcohol content level exceeds .08 percent, then that establishment is guilty of negligence. If that customer is then allowed to get behind the wheel of his or her vehicle and then caused a drunk driving accident, then that establishment can be held vicariously liable.
Why Texas Dram Shop Law Exists
Texas dram shop law is simultaneously a source of confusion controversy. Many people do not even know they exist, much less know how they work in the event that a drunk driving accident takes place. Other people are well aware of Texas dram shop law but do not agree with it. They do not believe that a bar, restaurant or another alcohol-serving establishment should even hold partial liability when an intoxicated customer makes the decision to get behind the wheel of his or her vehicle. After all, that bar cannot be expected to control their customers’ actions - that should be the sole responsibility of the intoxicated customer. However, according to Texas liquor law, that alcohol-serving establishment does, in fact, bear responsibility for that intoxicated person’s actions due to the manner in which alcohol affects people in general.
Contrary to what some people think, the reason that Texas dram shop law exists is not to alleviate the drunk driver of responsibility and place it all on the alcohol-serving establishment. Rather, the law is in place to hold the establishment liable for its role in helping contribute to the drunk driving accident. When this kind of accident occurs, the intoxicated driver will still face most of the liability. The establishment that over-served the driver, however, has to face responsibility as well as that driver. Again, the legal blood alcohol content level of a person in Texas is .08 percent according to the law. When someone reaches that level of intoxication, again, according to the law, that person cannot be expected to make a rational decision as to whether or not he or she can drive in a safe manner. Texas dram shop law mandates that it is up to the alcohol-serving establishment to make that decision instead. If the establishment either does not make that decision, or makes the decision to let an intoxicated customer drive, and that person causes a drunk driving accident, then that establishment will have to face liability. The establishment is not only responsible for its intoxicated customer, but also for the safety of the general public. An establishment that allows a drunk driver to leave the premises will have to pay dearly if that driver causes an accident.
Think about the following example if you are still not convinced of the necessity of Texas dram shop law and why alcohol-serving establishments can be held vicariously liable when a drunk driving accident takes place. Consider a scenario where a woman goes to the dentist to get her wisdom teeth removed. That woman will, of course, receive anesthesia. Once the procedure is completed, and the woman is still under the affects of the anesthesia, should the dentist allow the woman to drive? Of course not. That dentist has to insist that the woman have someone else drive her home. She would not only be a danger to herself if allowed to drive in that state, but an extreme danger to everyone else sharing the road. If she were to be involved in an accident while impaired, the dentist would be held liable due negligence. The same type of liability applies when a negligent alcohol-serving establishment such as a restaurant or a bar is involved in a Texas drunk driving accident.
Securing Restitution from an Establishment that Serves Alcohol
Again, there are some people who believe that an alcohol-serving establishment should bear no responsibility when one of its over-served customers causes a drunk driving accident. However, others are under the mistaken assumption that an alcohol-serving establishment will be 100 percent responsible for paying an injury victim of grieving family members of a fatality victim when this kind of accident takes place. However, again, the establishment will be held only partially responsible for the role it played in contributing to a drunk driving accident - it will never be held 100 percent responsible. The establishment will be assigned a portion of liability by the court, and will be forced to pay a percentage of any compensation that is awarded to a plaintiff. For example, if the plaintiff is awarded $1 million in damages, and the alcohol-serving establishment is assigned 10 percent of the liability by the court, then that establishment will have to pay the plaintiff $100,000 in restitution. The remainder of the compensation awarded will come from other parties found liable for the accident as well as the drunk driver. Texas dram shop law does not exist to unfairly punish alcohol-serving establishments unfairly. They are in existence in order to hold all of the parties that either contributed to a drunk driving accident or caused it outright liable to the role they played in causing that accident to take place.
Proximate Cause and Richardson Drunk Driving Accidents
"Proximate cause," in legal terms, relates to an accident’s causes, of course. The defendants that are not the direct cause of an accident are considered the proximate causes when a drunk driving accident takes place. For example, consider a scenario where the driver of a car has to suddenly swerve in order to avoid a drunk driver. Then that first driver hits another vehicle, and the resultant accident leads to an injury or a death. The intoxicated driver can be labeled a proximate cause of the accident; if the original driver had not had to swerve due to the actions of the intoxicated driver, then the accident would not have occurred. It is the same in regard to a drunk driving accident when the negligence of a server or bartender over-serves a customer who then causes that accident. That bartender or server is regarded as the proximate cause. Basically, when a party contributes to an accident, but is neither directly involved nor the direct cause, then that party is considered a proximate cause of the accident.
Servers’ and Bartenders’ Responsibilities
While there are some servers and bartenders employed by alcohol-serving establishments who may plead ignorance to Texas alcohol liability laws, they really cannot. In order to be able to legally serve alcohol, a bar, restaurant or other similar establishment has to obtain a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license. And in order to obtain and maintain that license, an establishment has to provide extensive training to its bartenders and servers in regard to the responsibilities, guidelines and rules of responsibly serving alcohol to customers. During this training, these bartenders and servers learn how to spot potential inebriation or drunkenness in their customers.
Bartenders and servers also are unable to plead ignorance to alcohol liability laws because the establishment in which they work has - again, to be able to obtain or maintain a license to serve alcohol - have written policies in place in regard to the tracking of the consumption of alcohol. Tally sheets, color-coded glasses or coasters, hand signals and electronic systems are but a few of the several methods that alcohol-serving establishments use in order to track the consumption of alcohol by their customers. In addition, establishments also have to have in place policies in regard how to take care of drunk customers as well as the consumption policies previously mentioned. A manager is usually summoned to deal with this kind of situation when it takes place, and that manager makes sure that no more alcohol is served to the intoxicated customer. And any alcohol that a customer tries to sneak in has to be taken away. Also, food may be provided to an intoxicated customer in an effort to neutralize unabsorbed alcohol. In addition, the alcohol-serving establishment has to get an intoxicated customer transportation so that person is not allowed to drive his or her vehicle, and the server or manager has to make sure he or she sees the drunk person get into that arranged transportation.
Signs of Intoxication
It is fairly easy for most people - especially trained bartenders and servers - to spot the signs of intoxication in a person: aggressive behavior, a lack of stability while walking or standing, lack of coherent thought, slurred speech, and so forth. Trained servers, again, can readily notice these signs. However, there are some customers that can conceal their intoxication, or "hold their liquor," much better than others. A server or bartender in this instance, however, will still be responsible for keeping a close eye on that customer’s alcohol consumption, and closely observe not only the kind of alcohol that is being consumed as well as how much he or she has consumed per hour. Even if a customer is not showing the outward signs of intoxication, that server or bartender is still responsible for making sure that customer is not over-served. The legal blood alcohol content limit in Texas, again, is .08 percent; a person, according to accepted standards, will exceed that limit if he or she has more than two 20-ounce beers, more than two glasses of wine, one shot of a cocktail made with liquor or one shot of liquor in an hour. If someone still causes a drunk driving accident even though he or she did not show any signs of being intoxicated, then the bartender or server who served that person to excess will still be partially liable for the accident that takes place. If the customer leaves the premises behind the wheel or his or her vehicle and causes an accident, it will not matter whether or not the customer showed obvious signs of intoxication.
The Safe Harbor Defense and Drunk Driving Accidents
Any alcohol-serving establishment will have the help of a defense lawyer if it is involved as a defendant in an Allen drunk driving accident case. The main strategy that lawyer will employ is known as the "safe harbor defense," which that lawyer will use to help his or her client avoid liability. Whether or not the defense is actually applicable to the particular case in question, that lawyer will still use the strategy. In employing the safe harbor defense, the defense lawyer will be trying to show the court that the restaurant, bar or other alcohol-serving establishment did everything that it possibly could have to follow established guidelines and regulations in regard to protecting the general public and their customers through the responsible serving of alcohol. If the lawyer can prove that the establishment was in compliance with all applicable state guidelines and regulations, the establishment will not be held liable for a drunk driving accident. In many cases, however, we have seen lawyers defending alcohol-serving establishments attempt, in an effort to conceal its negligence, try to claim the safe harbor defense. If you have been affected by a drunk driving accident, this is one of the main reasons why you will need the help of an Allen drunk driving accident lawyer with Grossman Law Offices. We can help you secure the restitution that you deserve from a negligent alcohol-serving establishment that is trying to escape liability even though it contributed to a drunk driving accident. In the past two decades we have represented scores of clients in these kinds of cases. As a result, we are very familiar with the investigations that must be conducted, the processes that must be followed, and the questions that must be asked in order to accurately identify whether or not the safe harbor claims of an alcohol-serving establishment are valid. If we can prove those claims are, in fact, not justified, we will work tenaciously and passionately to endure that establish is forced to pay dearly for the role it played in causing the drunk driving accident that resulted in the suffering that you have been forced to endure.
How Grossman Law Offices Can Help You
As stated previously, Texas dram shop laws may be quite complex, but they serve a valuable purpose in holding alcohol-serving establishments to a very high standard of responsibility. These laws are designed to keep these establishments from, through their negligence, contributing to the drunk driving epidemic that has not only affected the Metroplex, but also the state of Texas and the entire country. When an alcohol-serving establishment such as a bar or restaurant commits an act of negligence that leads to an Allen drunk driving accident, then an injury victim or grieving family member of a fatality can take legal action against that establishment in an effort to secure restitution. It is the responsibility of that kind of establishment to protect the safety of the general public; if it fails to meet that responsibility, that establishment must be held accountable. At Grossman Law Offices, our Allen drunk driving accident lawyers will work with you during this incredibly difficult time in order to force those responsible for your suffering to face accountability. If a drunk driving accident has resulted in an injury or death to you or someone close to you, please do not hesitate to call the Allen drunk driving accident lawyers with Grossman Law Offices as soon as possible at 1-855-326-0000 (toll free) for a free and confidential consultation in regard to the specific details of the accident. We will provide you with an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and let you know how we may be of assistance. If you have any questions whatsoever, whether they are in regard to drunk driving accident law in general, your case in particular or anything you have read in this article, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer them. We have a well-earned reputation for winning scores of these cases over the last two decades. If you let us put that reputation to work for you, you will have the best possible chance of obtaining the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for the suffering you have been forced to endure due to the negligence of another.