If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a drunk driving accident, you may be wondering if the bar or restaurant that served the driver alcohol can be held responsible. In Texas, this is known as a “dram shop” claim.
A dram shop refers to a commercial establishment, such as a bar or tavern, that serves and sells alcoholic beverages. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Ann. §2.01, a bar or retailer can be held responsible if it sells, provides, or serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer and that customer subsequently causes harm or damages due to their inebriation. In Texas, the dram shop laws do not impose liability on “Social Hosts,” meaning individuals are generally not held accountable for serving alcohol to friends or family members in their own residence, even if one of the guests becomes drunk and causes an accident.
There is one exception to this social host immunity, though. If an adult provides alcohol to a minor who is under the age of 18, and the minor becomes intoxicated as a result, the adult who served the alcohol can be held responsible for their contribution to the minor’s intoxication.
Determining responsibility in cases where a bar patron is over-served and causes an accident can be complicated. Is the patron at fault, or is the bar accountable, or both? As with many legal matters, the answer is “It depends.”
Various parties could be held responsible for the patron’s intoxication and the subsequent harm caused. The outcome is determined by the specifics of each individual case. It’s crucial for those who have been injured by a drunk driver to consult with a lawyer who will give their case the personalized attention it warrants. The unique details of each case will determine the best legal approach for the attorney.
Dram Shop Claims
Some states hold bars and taverns automatically responsible for injuries resulting from selling alcohol to an intoxicated person. However, in Texas, the standards are more stringent. To invoke the dram shop law, it is necessary to prove that the customer was visibly or obviously inebriated at the time of sale. In other words, the bar or tavern must have recognized that they were selling alcohol to someone who posed a risk to themselves and others.
The legal landscape in Texas is more complex. Bars and servers are not inherently liable for injuries caused by over-serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron. In fact, Texas doesn’t even require bars and restaurants to have Liquor Liability Insurance coverage. Without knowledge of the subject matter, navigating a potential Texas Dram Shop case can be treacherous.