DeSoto Drunk Driver Accident Attorney
Drunk Driver Accident Attorney Michael Grossman on Your Legal Options if You’ve Been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident in DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Cockrell Hill, or Lancaster, Texas
Accidents involving drunk drivers are nightmares come to life. These kinds of nightmares will affect at least 30 percent of the U.S. population at some point in their lives.
A person is killed by a drunk motorist approximately every 45 minutes per day. These statistics help illustrate the brutal reality of the incredible damage that a drunk driver can inflict through their negligent, careless, and awful behavior. If you’ve been hurt in a drunk driving wreck in DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Cockrell Hill or Lancaster Texas, or have lost a loved one because of a drunk driver’s negligent behavior, you likely have the ability to get compensated for your injury or loss through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, lots of people who’ve been hit with such a painful accident are often slow about reaching an attorney, or may not be aware about how the process works. Along with that, these victims may just not know what their legal options are. For example, do you know that alcohol-serving establishments may be forced to award you compensation due to their role in a Texas drunk driving accident resulting in your injury or loss? The following article looks closer into Texas dram shop law, along with your legal options in obtaining compensation from a liable party or parties so you can begin the recovery process. DeSoto drunk driving accident lawyer Michael Grossman offers this article so you can make a good decisions about the best legal steps to take next.
The Unique Aspects of a Drunken Driving Accident
Compared to other normal car wrecks, drunk drivers can create a tremendous amount of damage that is usually very apparent in damaged property, intense personal injury or loss of life. That’s why drunk drivers face far heavier penalties and the damages pursued in drunk driving accident cases will usually be pretty exorbitant. With such a huge sum of money at stake, aggressive legal action is often taken to make sure a plaintiff is properly compensated for their injury or loss so they can fully recover from the accident. Along with that, drunk driving cases usually have lots of people and businesses who will share liability for the accident and each unique defendant must have a specific case developed against them, holding them liable for their negligence in the drunk driving wreck.
Liable Parties in a Cockrell Hill Drunk Driving Wreck
The first probable suspect in a drunk driving accident is the motorist. Any driver whose negligence leads to an accident causing injury or death can be held responsible for the victim’s injury or death. This is so because all motorists owe a legal duty to fellow drivers to make sure they’re safe on the road. When such a duty has been broken, leading to injury or death, then the responsible party can be held liable for the damages sustained by the victim, either through a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit. That means even when a negligent driver has been intoxicated but has still caused an accident that leads to injury or loss, they could still be held responsible for the accident. However, when a negligent driver is intoxicated, there’s a strong chance that an additional party will be liable. The most likely group is an alcohol-serving establishment such as a bar or restaurant.
These businesses are held vicariously liable for a drunken driving accident if a link can be shown that their negligent choices led to a chain of events unfolding that eventually caused the drunk driving wreck. The law that oversees this is part of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code and is referred to as the Texas dram shop law. Showing a connection between a negligent bar and a drunk driving accident can be complicated, especially for law firms that don’t have a track record of dealing with Texas dram shop cases. However, proving connections like these is critical since a negligent bar will then be liable for award a plaintiff a proportionate amount of compensation based on their part of the accident. With two decades of experience in cases involving Texas dram shop causes of action, Cedar Hill drunk driving attorney Michael Grossman and his team at Grossman Law Offices are equipped to investigate a drunk driving accident in order to see if a negligent alcohol-serving business may have played a part in a drunk driving wreck in Cockrell Hill, DeSoto, Cedar Hill or Lancaster, TX.
Why is the Bar Liable?
Lots of people aren’t familiar with Texas dram shop law and are usually shocked to discover that a bar or restaurant can be found vicariously liable for another patron’s choice to drink and drive. It’s assumed that since an alcohol-serving establishment has no control over a person that they shouldn’t be responsible for that person’s choices after they leave the establishment. However there are sound, logical reasons behind Texas dram shop law and why bars and restaurants can be held responsible in these scenarios.
The Bar’s Responsibilities in Serving Alcohol
Texas dram shop law isn’t created to take the civil pressure off a drunk motorist for their negligent behavior and switch it to a bar or restaurant. A drunk driver will still be held accountable for an accident that led to an injury or death, regardless of whether or not an alcohol-serving establishment was involved, such as occurs when a person has gotten drunk at home and chose to then go drive intoxicated. However, Texas dram shop law works to help guard the public safety by making sure bars are held accountable in their care of their customers and the sale of alcohol.
For example, it’s against Texas state law to be in public, including driving, with a blood alcohol content level that surpasses .08%. If that kind of over-serving happens and the drunk patron causes an accident that leads to injury or even death, the bar or restaurant can be held partially liable for the tragedy. The sad part is that over-serving happens for a multitude of reasons, from a bartender wanting better tips to an over-worked waiter just not paying attention to the signs of a drunk customer. However, since a drunk customer can’t be expected to make a wise decision about their driving ability, that’s left to another adult to make that decision, which is why Texas dram shop law works to hold bars and restaurants responsible for their actions that may have played a role in a drunk driving accident. The same kind of liability happens when a bar knowingly lets a drunk patron leave the premises or if an alcohol selling establishment lets minors buy alcohol.
If that kind of vicarious liability still fails to make total sense for you, let’s look at this example: If you had surgery and the doctor gave you anesthesia for the procedure, do you think he would let you go home before the effects of the anesthesia had dissipated?
Such a choice would be highly irresponsible on the part of the doctor and could likely lead to causing you or others to be injured and even die if you drover under such a state as that. In this example, the doctor would be vicariously liable for any accident that you could have caused. Likewise an alcohol-serving establishment can be found liable if they have played a role in a drunk driving accident.
Along with that bars, restaurants and other alcohol-serving establishments can’t claim ignorance regarding these issues either, since each of these businesses, in order to legally serve alcohol, must obtain a liquor license through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. To maintain this license, the business must remain compliant within the rules concerning alcohol distribution and serving that have been put in place by the state. Besides that, bartenders, waiters and servers that work at these kinds of places must take part in training where they learn the signs of inebriation and are told about their legal duties in serving alcohol to customers. As such, any person or business involved in legally giving alcohol to a customer can’t claim ignorance when it comes to Texas dram shop law.
Restaurants and bars must also have written policies in regards to monitoring their patrons consumption of alcohol, which require detailed records to be kept about the quantity and kind of alcohol consumed at their location. Good methods for keeping tracking of this include tally sheets, color-coding of glasses or coasters, or even hand signals, so that waiters know about what’s being serve and the quantity being served while on their watch. Along with that, a bar or restaurant must have a way of dealing with intoxicated individuals. A lot of times, the manager will deal with the situation quickly and not allow that person to drink again, or offering food (which can soak up the booze) or a ride home from a cab or taxi service, which requires them to make sure the drunk customer gets in the cab and leaves as well. When there are cases when a patron sneaks their own booze into a restaurant, using things like a flask, the supervisor will make sure the alcohol is removed from the customer.
What Are the Signs of Intoxication?
Servers and bartenders must know about the signs of intoxication and keep a close watch over their customers to make sure the customer isn’t serve to the point of intoxication. A lot of the signs are pretty obvious like slurred speech, incoherent thought, drowsiness, overly aggressive behavior, or other obvious behavior. However, there are some patrons that can hold their liquor, as the phrase goes, and may not show apparent signs of intoxication when in fact they are drunk. When this occurs, a server needs to monitor the amount of drinks given to a customer, since the customer can still be drunk when they’re not showing apparent signs of intoxication. The usual standard applied to measure drunkenness is that one person should not be served more than two pints of beer per hour, or two glasses of wine, or one shot of liquor or a shot of a liquor-based cocktail. If these limits are surpassed, it’s pretty likely that such a patron will eventually surpass the legal .08% blood alcohol content level.
Do Texas Dram Shop Laws Seek All Compensation from the Bar or Restaurant?
Texas dram shop law isn’t mean to get 100 percent of the compensation for a plaintiff’s damages from the negligent alcohol-serving establishment. Dram shop law is used to hold these businesses somewhat liable for a drunk driving accident, allowing a victim to get compensated from both the drunk driver and the alcohol-serving establishment that may have been a factor in the accident. Each defendant will then be responsible for possibly awarding compensation to a plaintiff depending on their degree of liability in a drunk driving accident. For example, if a plaintiff has incurred $1 million in damages, and a bar is just 10 percent liable, then the bar would be only responsible for awarding $100,000 in compensation to the victim, and the drunk driver, if liable for the remaining 90 percent, would have to worry about $900,000. If legal action was taken just against the bar, then the compensation awarded would likely be far less than what is adequate to cover the damages a victim has sustained. Besides that, the bar or restaurant would never hold 100 percent of the liability, and therefore will never be liable for 100 percent of the compensation, since the business was not completely responsible for the accident. Texas dram shop law isn’t meant to hold a bar totally responsible for a drunk driving accident, but is meant to make defendants face justice for their part in contributing to an injury-related or fatal drunk driving accident.
What Does Proximate Cause Mean?
In drunk driving accidents, the phrase “proximate cause” is one used regularly. Such a term refers to a defendant that was not a direct cause of an accident, but played a part in it. In drunk driving wrecks, a proximate cause is usually a negligent alcohol-serving establishment. Other proximate causes can include third parties that factored into the accident, like a maker of a faulty safety device. If an outside party can be proven to have been a contributing factor to an accident that resulted in injury or death, then that proximate cause will likely be another defendant along with the defendant that directly caused the accident.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense?
When an alcohol serving establishment has been ruled as a potential liable party for a Texas drunk driving accident, a defense counsel for the bar or restaurant will likely use the safe harbor defense. In order for that defense to be successful, the defense team has to be able to show the alcohol-serving establishment adhered to all state guidelines concerning the sale of alcohol. If that compliance can be proven, the bar or restaurant is granted safe harbor and will likely be immune to a lawsuit. However, defense attorneys working for negligent bars or restaurants will know about the safe harbor defense and will try to show that such an entity was compliant with the law when they actually weren’t so that a personal injury or wrongful death claim can be denied. In these cases, it can be extremely important for the successful outcome of your drunk driving accident case to have the legal help of a qualified Cedar Hill drunk driving accident lawyer like Michael Grossman and his team at Grossman Law offices to undertake a complete investigation so that all the responsible parties can be spotted and held liable for their negligent behavior.
Cedar Hill Drunken Driver Accident Attorney Michael Grossman Can Assist You With Seeking Fair Compensation from All Liable Parties
Identifying all the liable parties in a drunken driving accident can be difficult for lesser-experience law firms, but Grossman Law Offices has two decades of experience in cases involving dram shop causes of action. Because of that, we’re usually able to figure out whether or not an alcohol-serving establishment bears any liability in regards to a drunken driving accident. Along with that, if no business was a part of a drunk driving accident, we’ll work to make sure any other liable party was brought to justice so you can get compensated fairly for your injury or loss stemming from a drunk driving accident.
Call us today toll free at 1-855-326-0000 for a free legal consultation and to discover more about your legal options so that you can begin the recovery process. Along with getting compensated for your damages, you’ll also be seeking to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions so similar drunk driving wrecks don’t harm others in the future.