Third Party Dram Shop Case - Step 4: determine the value of your case.
In Texas, there are no "fine schedules" or automatic awards for dram shop violations and the injuries and/or deaths that result. Instead, your attorneys will have to prove to a court what you've lost, and must do so with compelling, courtroom-admissible evidence. The "value" of a claim simply means what a jury will likely award. It doesn't mean what value your injuries are truly worth, nor the value of life that was lost.
The bar's insurance may be the only way that you may be able to recover damages. Especially if the bar isn't particularly profitable or is a brand new establishment.
If you are interested in the other steps in pursuing a Texas dram shop lawsuit they are:
Questions answered on this page:
- How does a proper investigation help maximize the recovery of damages in a Texas dram shop case?
- What factors go into the valuation process of a Texas dram shop case?
- What are the consequences of hiring an inexperienced dram shop attorney?
The importance of getting an accurate valuation.
As we noted in our previous post on verifying insurance and assets in dram shop cases, there can be up to one million dollars in insurance money available for your claim. But in most cases, that's merely the ceiling, not the floor, of what your case may be worth.
Further, any decent lawyer will tell you that hope is not a strategy in lawsuits---you need a realistic vision of what your case is worth for at least three key reasons:
- Your attorney needs to prove up your case. Even in cases where liability seems obvious and your injuries and losses are all too real, there's a lot of work to be done. Defense attorneys will crawl all over your case to poke holes in order to lower their clients' potential exposure.
- Your settlement strategy depends on knowing what's at stake. Most cases never go to trial, which means they settle for an agreeable amount of money to both parties. If your case's likely value is $200,000, then getting an offer for $170,000 is nothing to scoff at. However, a mere $50,000 is.
- You need credibility. Far too many inexperienced lawyers barrel into cases demanding outlandish amounts of money, only to convince the defendants' lawyers that they don't really know what they're doing. This is a great way to ruin your case.
The factors that go into valuing a case.
How this all plays out depends on your individual circumstances. The following situations may better explain how this works:
- Wrongful Death Damages: If you lost a loved one, no amount of money can ever make up for their missed presence. We understand that all too well, having dealt with these tragedies ourselves. Nonetheless, parties can recover for lost income, lost inheritance, and other death-related expenses. These can sometimes range into the millions of dollars, depending on the decedent's education, work history, age, and salary potential. Further, the law empowers you to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you've endured from losing someone close to you.
- Personal Injury Damages: In injury cases, we will employ medical professionals to determine exactly how you were injured, what it's going to cost to get you back to where you need to be, and whether you'll ever be back to normal again. Additionally, if you have lost income because you haven't been able to work, we can recover that for you as well. Similar to wrongful death damages, you're entitled to pursue money for the physical and mental agony you've gone through.
- Property Damages: Anything of monetary value lost in the accident---the car, jewelry, a computer, a phone, is potentially recoverable.
The defendants will, in many cases, attempt to lower the value of your case by claiming that you or your lost loved one was responsible in some way---or to some extent---for the incident. In Texas, our comparative fault system allows jurors to reduce your award by a percentage they assign to "our side" of the accident. If there is evidence of that, we'll have to factor that into our analysis. For example, let's say that a bar overserved a driver who later hit you on the highway. At the time of the incident, you were texting on your phone and could have---maybe---avoided the incident. We'd have to make a rough estimate of what a jury would consider that bit of negligence on your part to have contributed to the incident.
Your case is unique. Let the dram shop lawyers at Grossman Law Offices help you learn what it is likely worth.
We've been doing this kind of work for 25 years. We can walk you through your case to determine what a jury will probably award. Call us at (855) 326-0000 now for more information.
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