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Caterers Can Be Sued For Over-Serving Alcohol

Many companies make their living by catering food and drinks for events, parties, and weddings. What a lot of folks don't know is that these companies are often technically "alcohol providers" under the Dram Shop Act. As such, they can be held liable for the over-service of alcohol to party goers when alcohol-related accidents happen.

Below, we'll touch on a few issues specific to dram shop suits against these providers, but make sure you check out our Comprehensive Guide to Dram Shop Laws for a full rundown on how these cases work.


Questions answered on this page:

  • Can caterers be sued for alcohol-related accidents?
  • How are caterers held liable in alcohol-related lawsuits?
  • How can a lawyer help if I was injured or lost a loved one after a drunk driving accident?

Caterers CAN be held liable for drunk driving and alcohol-related accidents.

No one is allowed to be in the business of selling alcohol without being licensed by the state of Texas. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission requires that servers be certified and properly trained on how to safely sell alcohol, regardless of the venue. So, it doesn't matter if a seller is a bar, restaurant, liquor store, or caterer because the rules are the same for them all. Below are some of the rules that servers and bartenders must adhere to when serving alcohol:

  • Minors cannot be served. Ever. At social gatherings like weddings, the temptation might be that teenagers should be able to "have a few" like everyone else. This isn't OK, and if a caterer serves a minor and the minor later causes an accident, the caterer can be held liable.
  • Those who are "obviously intoxicated" must be shut off. Once someone has reached the point that they are a danger to themselves and others, no alcohol provider can keep providing them with alcohol.
  • Even those appearing sober cannot be given too much at once. If someone is given three, four, or five drinks at once---a "novelty drink" that is especially strong, lots of shots, or even a bottle of liquor---that person is GOING to become intoxicated, and the caterer can be sued.

The bottom line is that alcohol providers must supply alcohol in a responsible way.

What caterers can be made to pay.

If someone is injured from this overservice, they can file a claim for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

  • Example: On his way home from a catered company party, an intoxicated driver slams into another driver. She sustains a neck injury requiring $75,000 in medical treatment, loses 3 weeks at work, and endures miserable pain for months. Her attorney can file a claim against the caterer that overserved the driver.

On the other hand, if an intoxicated person causes a deadly accident, then the victim's family can be made to pay for much, much more.

  • Example: In the same incident described above, the woman passed away. Her husband and children have wrongful death claims. They can seek the income the woman would have made over the term of her life, pain and suffering, and money for the many other losses they'll endure.

Can the event or party's host be sued, too?

In most cases, no. Only those who benefit directly from selling alcohol can ever be properly sued in Texas for the negligent service of alcohol. So, if the person who caused the accident were at a wedding, the bride, groom, or their families will never be financially liable. This is because of the "social host" doctrine, where courts do not hold private parties responsible for friends and family consuming too much alcohol in purely social occasions.

In other words, you don't have to worry about suing people who weren't responsible for people who didn't have anything to do with your incident.

You need the right lawyer to recover what you deserve.

Don't waste the one opportunity to get the money you'll need to recover. No matter whom you suspect should be held responsible, we'll launch a thorough investigation to determine exactly what happened. And don't worry---we never charge you any money unless and until we recover compensation for you, and then we only take an industry-standard percentage of that. Call us today at (855) 326-0000 now.


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