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How Does Insurance Coverage Verification Work in a Texas First-Party Dram Shop Case?

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

First-Party Dram Shop: Verifying The Bar's Insurance.

As we discussed in prior posts, we only pursue dram shop cases where there are assets or insurance to go after. This isn't because of greed, but because it's not worth litigating a case for months or even years if we cannot put any money in your pocket. In this article, we'll explain how insurance is handled in a dram shop case and how the details within the insurance contract could affect your case.

Being well informed will never hurt your case.

Questions answered on this page:

  • How do you find out if a bar or restaurant has insurance?
  • Is the type of insurance a bas or restaurant has affect my case?
  • How can a lawyer help me if I decide to pursue a lawsuit against a bar?

Verifying Insurance

It's extremely uncommon for negligent bars and restaurants to come right out and admit they did anything wrong, much less hand over the contact information for their insurance broker. Instead, we suss out whether the establishment is insured by two means:

  • Our letter of spoliation. As soon as we're hired and have a good idea about where you or your loved one was drinking prior to the accident, we send over legal notice that we are your attorneys and that the bar is required to not destroy evidence. These letters are designed to preserve things like receipts, drink records, and surveillance footage. However, we always include in bold and underlined letters that the bar should alert its insurance carrier immediately. Quite often, we receive a letter from the insurance company or an attorney soon thereafter. This allows us to reach out to the carrier and request information relating to insurance coverage.
Spoliation of evidence notice - dram shop case
This is a sample spoliation of evidence notice.
  • Through a lawsuit. Whether the spoliation letter prompts the establishment to verify insurance coverage or not, we always request copies of their insurance policy once we've filed the lawsuit. Under the Texas Rules of Evidence, the establishment MUST hand over all relevant insurance coverage information.
  • We've certainly had cases where establishments refused to hand over copies of insurance documents. In those instances, we've gone down to the courthouse and asked the judge to compel the bar or restaurant to produce them to us.

    Insurance Policy Evaluation

    If you've ever looked through a commercial insurance contract, your eyes surely glazed over by page three. They're long, tedious, and use a lot of legalese. But what's in them is important because of so-called "exclusions." In essence, insurers can decide they'll cover losses for X, but not Y. In the dram shop context, that matters a great deal because general liability insurance for a bar or restaurant might not cover losses for so-called "liquor liability." Only policies that specifically cover liquor liability can be forced to pay you.

    Further, we've noticed a lot of tricky policies being written recently that "give with one hand and take away with the other." Without getting too technical, they involve covering damages that come from the over-service of alcohol, but refuse coverage when the bartenders violated TABC regulations. This is obviously stupid when you take into account the fact that no over-service COULD happen if the bartenders followed TABC rules! As such, we've had some interesting fights over whether the bar actually has insurance coverage or not, and we know how to properly handle these situations to protect our clients' interests.

    Overview of Dram Shop Case Steps

    To learn about the other steps taken in dram shop cases, click on the links below:

    Only experienced dram shop lawyers can help you get what you deserve.

    We've seen insurance companies try every trick in the book to avoid giving our clients their due. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a bar's negligence, you need the dram shop attorneys at Grossman Law Offices in Dallas, TX. They have over 25 years of experience in handling dram shop cases. Call 1-855-326-0000 now to learn your legal rights and how Grossman Law Offices can help.

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