Are drunk drivers are solely responsible for their actions? What about bar fights: Are the people who start Texas bar brawls 100% liable for what unfolds? These two questions are a great starting point for learning how to navigate dram shop liability laws in Texas.
Most people would answer yes, drunk drivers and brawlers are solely responsible for damages. After all, the drunk driver chose to drive a car after drinking too much, and the drunk bar brawler chose to swing first. It’s pretty obvious that they are responsible for any negative outcomes.
But, it turns out that things aren’t that simple.
Under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Ann. §2.01, a bar or retailer is liable if it sold, provided, or served an alcoholic beverage to a customer who was obviously intoxicated at the time the transaction took place, and that customer went on to cause injuries and property damage due to his or her intoxication. These laws are important, especially considering that a person in Texas dies every 9 hours in a DUI-alcohol-related collision. Last year, 963 people in Texas were killed and 2,114 seriously injured because someone chose to get behind the wheel while impaired. (Texas DOT)
Dram shop laws attempt to reduce instances of drunk driving, bar fights, and bar brawls by making establishments take responsibility for stopping alcohol service to intoxicated people. They can also be used as the basis for a bar fight injury claim to get compensated for damages you suffer as a result of bars and nightclubs violating dram shop laws.
If you’ve been injured in a bar or nightclub or you’ve been injured by an intoxicated person, it’s worth reaching out to a seasoned bar brawl attorney. Make sure any attorney you hire has repeatedly proven their mastery when it comes to dram shop law and bar brawl injury claims.
Who has a good chance of being awarded damages in a dram shop claim?
Dram shop laws are in place to protect a wide range of people, including:
- Drivers, bicyclists, or anyone else hit by a drunk driver
- Passengers riding with a drunk driver
- Victims of bar fights caused an intoxicated person
- The drunk driver him or herself (in some cases)
That last one is surprising, but it captures just how complicated navigating a dram shop case in Texas can be. A drunk driver or bar brawler may be able to sue the bar for damages in some cases if they can prove that they were over-served.
The bottom line is that if you’re injured by someone who is intoxicated as a result of being over-served at a bar or nightclub, you may be able to seek damages from both the individual and the establishment that over-served them.
What do I have to prove to win a dram shop case in Texas?
Texas bars and nightclubs are not automatically liable for injuries caused by over-serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron. Before you get awarded damages, you’ll have to show evidence that they over-served the person that injured you.
You can prove over-service by way of circumstantial evidence, witness testimony, or through a toxicologist expert. The evidence of intoxication might include:
- The customer’s speech was slurred
- The customer’s breath already smelled of alcohol
- Someone told the bartender/waitress that the customer had been drinking
- The customer was unsteady on their feet
- The customer consumed so much alcohol at the establishment that an average person would be intoxicated
You also need to prove that the sale of alcohol was a proximate cause of your injuries. Building a dram shop case is not something that happens in a weekend or during your spare time. It takes time, patience, and help from experts to get the restitution you deserve for your injuries.
But, it won’t take money to get a case evaluation and get the ball rolling on your bar fight claim. Contact Malley Law for a risk-free evaluation of your case. We don’t get paid until you receive the damages you’re entitled to.