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When Can Bars Be Held Liable for Alcohol-Related Assaults?

  • Last Updated: March 3rd, 2023
  • By: Mike Grossman
  • Dram Shop

Bars can be liable for assaults in or near their premises. Here's how it works:

Alcohol reduces people's inhibitions and sometimes leads to poor decisions that cause death or serious injury. Additionally, the connection between alcohol and violence is scientifically proven. By some estimates, as many as 40% of assault offenders were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

If you or a family member have been assaulted by someone who was over-served alcohol at a bar or restaurant, you could have a dram shop claim.

In this article we'll look at what happens if someone is assaulted by an intoxicated person at bar and how Texas law handles this type of case.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • Who is responsible if an intoxicated person assaults someone in a bar?
  • Can I sue the bar if a drunk person injures me in a fight?
  • Is a bar liable if they over-serve someone and they injure someone in a fight?

How Texas dram shop laws apply to bars and restaurants.

Dram shop cases often involve someone suing a bar because they were injured by a drunk driver that was over-served at their establishment. Or, they can be brought by the individual (or their families) who were themselves over-served and were later injured as a result of this negligence.

The point of these cases is to hold liable the negligent party who caused someone harm. The negligent party in this situation is often the bars or restaurant that make money off of serving too much alcohol.

The law doesn't require you to have been injured in a car, though. Dram shop cases apply where anyone was over-served alcohol--meaning, they were already passed the point of intoxication when they were sold yet more alcohol--and then some injury occurred that was a direct result of the alcohol.

Texas courts have recognized that alcohol providers have a duty to prevent the service of alcohol to someone who has become drunk enough that they are a danger to them self or others. But its not just Texas courts, the Texas legislature has passed the Texas Dram Shop Act which says essentially the same thing. Obviously, this encompasses the violent dangers that even otherwise-peaceful individuals can be inflamed to. When bars cross the line, they can be held liable for compensation for assault injuries, such as:

  • Medical bills - If you or your loved one had to spend time in the hospital, then the alcohol establishment is potentially on the hook for those costs.
  • Lost wages - For more serious assaults, victims might be forced to miss time working. The wages/salary they lost can be taxed to the bar as well.
  • Pain and suffering - While less quantifiable than doctor bills or lost wages, victims may be compensated monetarily for their suffering.

Minors and alcohol-related assaults.

Under Texas dram shop law, a minor is considered someone under the age of 18, even though the legal drinking age starts at 21. Under the law, it is a crime to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 at a bar any amount of alcohol. We've seen far too many instances of fights between young people who "snuck into" bars and restaurants and later became intoxicated. The establishments in these instances are potentially on the hook for every nickel of damages caused.

But with minors and assaults, it doesn't just have to be alcohol purchased at a bar or restaurant for victims to recover. Rather, it could be at private homes and fraternal organizations. Normally, "social hosts" are immune from liability for providing alcohol to guests, as long as they don't charge for it. However, they're potentially liable for assaults when they provide young people alcohol to drink in their homes. Several of these cases have made it up to the appeals courts, where they've been consistently upheld.

If you know a minor who was injured at a house party by an intoxicated person, you should think of giving us a call.

Give the Texas Dram Shop Attorneys at Grossman Law Offices a Call Today

The lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have over 25 years of experience handling Texas dram shops cases. We've won literally hundreds of these cases, and we're here for you. Call us at (855) 326-0000. We'll be more than happy to answer whatever questions you might have at no cost.

Other articles about Texas dram shop cases that may be helpful:

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