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How the Dram Shop Act in Texas Affects Car Accident Cases

THE DRAM SHOP ACT IN TEXAS AND HOW IT AFFECTS CAR ACCIDENT CASES

Alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor in accidents. In 2020, alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 30% of all U.S. traffic-related deaths, totaling over 11,000 fatalities. Many more are injured or otherwise harmed by these accidents.

If you’ve been in an accident due to a drunk driver, it can turn your world upside down. You deserve proper compensation to get your life back on track. A Texas lawyer can help you get compensation from the driver and the alcohol provider through dram shop laws.

Learn how Angel Reyes & Associates uses the Dram Shop Act in Texas to establish liability in accident cases and get affected parties the compensation they’re entitled to.

WHAT IS THE TEXAS DRAM SHOP ACT?

A dram shop is any commercial establishment that sells or serves alcoholic beverages, such as a bar or nightclub. The name comes from a measurement type for alcohol: a dram.

Dram shop laws refer to legislation that outlines the civil liability of individuals or establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. In these cases, a dram shop usually refers to any provider of alcohol, not necessarily commercial shops. Providers at a social event—such as a party host—could be liable under these laws, even though they aren’t operating a commercial establishment.

The Dram Shop Act in Texas is one such law. Under the state’s alcoholic beverage code, this chapter covers civil liabilities for serving alcoholic beverages. It doesn’t affect civil cases against an intoxicated person who caused damage—other laws would be relevant in those cases.

The act allows providers of alcohol to be liable for the damages caused by intoxicated persons. It’s commonly used when pursuing claims for car accident cases involving drivers under the influence. A drunk driver would not be liable under this law, but the bartender who served them may be.

WHO CAN BE HELD LIABLE IN ACCIDENT CASES?

In civil cases for personal injury or property damage, many people, not just the person who caused the accident, can be liable. Depending on the type of case, parties such as property owners or employers may have legal liability. They possess a duty of care to keep people safe.

In cases involving alcohol, dram shop laws identify providers of alcohol as potentially liable parties. In the Texas law, they’re put into two categories: those who serve alcohol to of-age persons and those who serve alcohol to minors.

SERVING ALCOHOL

Simply serving alcohol doesn’t make a person or business liable for accidents that later happen because of intoxication. They must meet two conditions.

First, the provider must have served alcohol to an intoxicated person who was a clear danger to themselves or others. Second, the intoxication must be a proximate cause of the damage. Proximate cause means that the alcohol must be sufficiently related to the reason for the accident.

SERVING MINORS

Minors present a unique case under these laws. An adult over 21 may be liable for damages caused by an intoxicated minor if they meet specific criteria.

The adult must not be the minor’s parent, guardian, spouse, or other legal custodian as determined by a court to be found liable under these laws. In addition, the adult must knowingly provide alcohol to the minor or allow another party to provide it.

HOW IS LIABILITY DETERMINED?

Liability is determined by identifying who was at fault in an accident. In cases concerning a drunk driver, an experienced lawyer can establish liability for both the driver and the person who served them alcohol.

To hold a person or business liable under dram shop laws, the accident must have been caused by impairment because of alcohol consumption. Once impairment has been established, you must also establish the person who served the alcohol broke dram shop laws.

BURDEN OF PROOF

Because these are civil cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff—the person seeking compensation. A pending DWI charge or conviction is strong evidence that alcohol consumption led to an accident.

Witness testimony, security footage, or purchase receipts may be evidence against servers. Additional evidence about their age may be relevant in the case of serving minors. Your lawyer can help you determine who may be liable and how to establish their actions in a legal case.

POTENTIAL DEFENSES

If you try to hold a server liable for an alcohol-induced accident, your legal team must prepare for potential defenses. Defendants may argue that they didn’t serve the alcohol or that the person they served was not dangerously intoxicated at the time of serving.

They may also argue that the alcohol was not a proximate factor in the accident at all, that something else was the cause of the damages.

WHY HOLD DRAM SHOPS LIABLE?

In the case of an accident, you should seek compensation from all liable parties. Dram shop laws exist because courts have determined that serving alcoholic beverages can contribute to accidents. Had an intoxicated person not been served, would they still have caused the damage? Likely not. This liability falls under negligence rather than strict liability.

Holding servers liable for damages serves two purposes. First, it protects future individuals from being over-served or involved in accidents because of alcohol.

Second, it maximizes the compensation you can recoup for an accident involving alcohol intoxication. Holding all responsible parties liable for damages ensures you get the justice you deserve, including monetary damages for consequences such as medical treatment or lost wages.

HOW DOES A LAWYER HELP IN TEXAS DRAM SHOP LAW CASES?

In Dallas, there are thousands of car crashes every year. In 2022, the city recorded nearly 34,000 of them. While dram shop laws are not relevant to all cases, national reports indicate that alcohol is involved in 31% of fatal crashes and costs billions of dollars—not to mention all the injuries and damages from non-fatal crashes.

It’s challenging to pursue personal injury cases on your own, and third-party liability—such as attempting to claim damages under dram shop laws—can complicate it even more. When multiple parties are involved, you must deal with multiple defendants and their legal representatives. An experienced lawyer will be your guide in a case like this.

At Angel Reyes & Associates, we’ve helped victims of car crashes recover money in cases like these, and we’ve recovered over $1 billion across all cases.

Case Calculator

What amount can you recover from your case? It depends on many factors, but you may be able to recover money to pay for:

● Medical expenses

● Lost wages

● Vehicle damage

● Pain and suffering

Learn more about the potential damages you might recover from your case using our Case Calculator.

SUPPORT FROM REYES BROWNE LAW

If you’ve been in a car accident involving an intoxicated driver, you deserve justice. A lawyer experienced with dram shop laws in Texas can help you pursue a claim involving all relevant parties.

We’re here to help. At Angel Reyes & Associates, we only take on car or truck accident cases, which means our experience is finely honed. Reach out to us today to get started.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need an experienced car accident lawyer specialist to protect your rights against insurance companies dedicated to minimizing your claim and compensation!

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