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First-Party Dram Shop Cases: Determining Your Case's Value

It may seem crass to think about financial compensation at all while you're still recovering from the consequences of a serious accident. But you deserve to have the resources you'll need to try to put the pieces back together in your life, and those responsible for your suffering deserve to be held accountable for their careless actions. We encourage you to keep several things in mind:

  • Serious injury and wrongful death cases are horrendous tragedies that money cannot fix. When we refer to your case's "value," we only mean what a jury might award, not what you or your loved one are worth as human beings.
  • There is no pre-set legal formula for determining a case's value. Your attorney must prove to a jury exactly what you've lost.

In the article below, we'll talk about how we can get an idea of what your case is "worth" by looking at injury and wrongful death cases separately.


Questions answered on this page:

  • Who determines how much I will get for my dram shop lawsuit?
  • How does a jury affect how much you will get in compensation?
  • What does "comparative fault" mean?
  • How can a lawyer help me with a lawsuit against a bar?

How juries value first-party dram shop cases where the victim survives.

When a person becomes intoxicated at a bar and later hurts themselves in an accident, they can sue the bar for their injuries. These are the four main categories of damages, and how they're calculated:

  • Medical bills. In many ways, these damages are relatively easy to calculate. Whatever the victim spent on hospital stays, prescriptions, rehab and the like that can be easily documented and tied directly to the accident can be recovered. However, what's more complex is calculating the expected costs of future medical needs where surgeries or treatment will be required.
  • Property damage. Most often, these cases involve car accidents. The repair or replacement costs of a car may be recovered.
  • Lost wages. Any time missed from work that is directly attributable to the accident can be obtained as damages from the defendant(s).
  • Pain and suffering. Juries are allowed to award you money for the physical and emotional anguish that happened as a result of the accident.

Most of these losses will be best explained by an expert witness---someone with the background, training, education, and experience to break down the technical aspects of your case. A prime example of this from many of our cases are the neuropsychologists we've employed to detail what our clients with traumatic brain injuries are experiencing.

How juries value first-party dram shop cases where the victim dies.

When a patron later dies in an accident, his or her family can seek all the above damages on behalf of their deceased relative. For example, if a man is hurt in a car crash and dies a week later, his family can pursue the bar for the money needed to provide him care in his final days. However, the family can also pursue the following types of damages on his behalf:

  • Lost wages: Those who were financially-dependent upon the victim can seek the money he would in all likelihood have made in his lifetime.
  • Pain and suffering: The parents, spouse, and children of the victim may pursue money from the establishment for their emotional suffering.

How the value of victims' cases can be reduced significantly.

In Texas, juries are allowed to weigh the intoxicated patron's own bad behavior. We're not here to judge anyone, but after all, no one forced the patron to drink alcohol. Juries can reduce your award by whatever percentage of blame they ascribe to the drinker's conduct. This is called "comparative fault." Here's how it works:

  • Scenario 1: A man becomes extremely intoxicated at a local Applebee's. He leaves the establishment and has a fatal car accident on the way home. His wife, parents, and children have lost what the jury believes to be $1,000,000. However, the jury believes that the man was 30% responsible for his accident. Accordingly, they reduce the victim's award by the same amount, to $700,000.
  • Scenario 2: A similar situation to Scenario 1 takes place, but the establishment argues, forcefully and somewhat successfully, that they tried everything they could to prevent the man from leaving and driving home. The jury then places 60% of the fault on the patron. In light of Texas's comparative fault laws, the family's award is reduced to $0, because any time a jury places 51% or more on an intoxicated patron, they and/or their family receives nothing.

Overview of Dram Shop Case Steps

For an overview of the other steps taken in a dram shop case, click on the links below:

Your case's value depends on which attorney you hire.

If you want your best chance at getting the full value of your case, you'll need an experienced dram shop attorney on your side. The dram shop attorneys at Grossman Law Offices, based in Dallas, TX, have been litigating these cases for decades, and we've got a track record you can believe in. Call 1-855-326-0000 now for a free consultation.


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