Dallas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer - Dram Shop Laws
Suing Bars and Drunken Drivers for their Mutual Contribution to Accidents - Texas Dram Shop & Liquor Liability Laws Explained
Legal contests, including car accidents and truck accidents, are serious challenges to overcome physically, financially, and emotionally. They become even harder to overcome when you find out that the whole incident was entirely preventable, such as when a bar, restaurant, club, or other Dallas-area provider of alcohol over-served a patron, who then went on to cause a serious injury or death to a loved one.
These cases, known as "dram shop" cases, are used to distribute justice to all of the parties who should be held accountable, including not only the drunk driver, but the alcohol-serving establishment, as well.
Covered in This Article
- The Background and Purpose of Dram Shop Laws
- Elements of a Dram Shop Cause of Action
- Grossman Law Offices Knows Dram Shop Precedent
Because it could be crucial in your pursuit of victory, we at Grossman Law Offices will use this time to discuss the basics of dram shop law. By the end of this article, you should have learned about both the purpose and background of dram shop laws in Texas, as well as the various elements that comprise your cause of action in a drunk driving accident / dram shop case. If you have any more questions after reading this article, feel free to read some more of our content, or contact us at our toll-free number: 1-855-326-0000.
The Background and Purpose of Dram Shop Laws
In the State of Texas, most codified law stems from the Texas Dram Shop Act of 1987. Basically, this law makes it so that those establishments and individuals who sell an excessive amount of alcohol to patrons are subject to lawsuit in civil court. It was passed as a reactionary measure to the Texas Supreme Court's ruling that first established this duty for our state, and has been the law ever since. Albeit with some changes in both wording and interpretation, the Texas Dram Shop Act codifies your right to sue not only a drunken driver, but a negligent business or person whose actions were the catalyst to your Dallas accident.
Behind both the judicial ruling and the law is the belief that alcohol providers should not be permitted to over-serve customers. Alcohol is oftentimes the direct cause of many serious accidents in Dallas, so by serving someone too much liquor, beer, wine, or other beverages, a bar or restaurant has in effect played a disproportionate role in increasing the likelihood of such accidents occurring. The state legislature and Texas Supreme Court recognized that this was a matter of public safety: they knew that an individual bar's drive for profit could be so great that it could have an adverse impact on the rest of the community, resulting in otherwise preventable accidents. Therefore, multiple layers of our law expressly prohibit the sale of alcohol to intoxicated individuals with neither the mental clarity nor physical ability to drive safely.
Additionally, there is a degree of justice that is expected to be dealt by the civil system. As such, current dram shop laws make it possible to sue not only the drunken driver, but the Dallas-area facility who supplied him or her with alcohol beyond the legal limits. While there are certainly several issues that surround doing this (like knowing exactly when someone "looks" drunk) having the possibility of suing the business allots liability more appropriately, as well as assures that a victim of severe injuries can recover damages from a solvent opponent.
For reasons of safety, liability, and fairness, dram shop laws exist throughout the entire country, and will remain for many years into the future.
Elements of a Dram Shop Cause of Action
In order to pursue a lawsuit against a Dallas dram shop, you must first possess a cause of action. Essentially, this is when a defendant owed you a duty, yet breached said duty at some point – usually through negligence. The cause of action plays a critical role in your Dallas drunk driving accident lawsuit, and is absolutely essential if you want to win any settlement or judgment at all.
Of course, establishing the cause of action in a Dallas drunk driving accident case requires proving other elements. These include:
- Establishing that the defendant sold, served, or provided an alcoholic beverage to an adult recipient.
- At the date and time of the alcohol's sale, serving, or provision, it was (or should have been) obvious that the adult recipient was intoxicated.
- Said intoxication was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's accident-related injuries.
Our law firm will always conduct an investigation into your dram shop accident in order to discover facts relating to these elements.
Regarding the first point, establishing that the provision of alcohol took place is not usually a tall task to accomplish. Purchase made with credit and debit cards are easily traceable, and can be linked straight to the bar or restaurant. Cash purchases are not nearly as easy to prove, but with a combination of sale receipts, eyewitness accounts, and video surveillance, experienced Dallas drunk driving accident lawyers such as ours at Grossman Law Offices can connect the dots for the jury's benefit.
For instance, if a drunken individual was seen walking away from a Dallas bar with a bottle in his hand, then – barring unreliable testimony – that should be sufficient to establish at least the person's presence, even if there are no substantive records available.
Proving that the bar served alcohol to an intoxicated individual on the other hand, is not quite as simple. All of the above resources can play a role, including witness accounts of the drunk having blood-shot eyes, or of a recorded, non-tampered bar tab for $50 in bottled beer. Nevertheless, it is much more circumstantial, thereby making it harder to attain a reasonable burden of proof for your drunk driving injury lawsuit.
What if the seemingly "blood-shot" eyes were actually caused by a severe lack of sleep? What about the $50 tab: what if that was for a group of people? Beyond that, it can also be difficult to establish how much is too much: for some people, a few beers is no problem, while for others, two cans of Budweiser can be the difference between sobriety and drunkenness. This is where contextualizing will make all of the difference, as it should put into place all of the various elements of a challenging, complex claim.
Finally, showing that the drunkenness was the proximate (direct, non-intervened) cause of an accident is mostly about dispelling alternative possibilities. A defense attorney for a Texas restaurant, bar, or club might try to reference some other extenuating circumstance, such as the possibility of sleeplessness we discussed earlier. Additionally, it is possible that the same person went to multiple bars the night of the disaster, so the defense could claim that it was another establishment that served the last drink to the intoxicated driver. The excuses are as common and diverse as animals in the world, and with Grossman Law Offices, you can see to it that each and every one of them is countered with precision, accuracy, and clear logic.
Grossman Law Offices Knows Dram Shop Precedent
With the information discussed in this article, we hope that you now feel better prepared to go forward with action against a negligent bar, restaurant, club, or other provider of alcohol in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
The Dallas drunk driving accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have handled a wide variety of case work on drunk driver accident lawsuits in Texas, and feel that the above should answer many of your most pressing questions regarding such an uncommon legal remedy. However, if you have more concerns that need answering, including the possibility of legal representation, then you are more than welcome to call us. Again, our number is 1-855-326-0000, and it is entirely toll-free. There is nothing to lose and much to reclaim, so call today.