What Is Texas’ Dram Shop Law?

When injured individuals file personal injury claims, they sometimes face multiple defendants. Several parties may have contributed to an injured plaintiff’s damages, and, therefore, the plaintiff has several potential avenues for compensation. Texas’ dram shop laws exist to protect individuals who suffer injuries and other damages from intoxicated individuals. Not only can an injured plaintiff sue the intoxicated person who caused the damages, but he or she may also sue the establishment that supplied the person with alcohol under certain circumstances.

How Dram Shop Laws Work

Texas law dictates that establishments that sell and/or serve alcoholic beverages must exercise reasonable care in their service. This means abiding by all applicable liquor laws as well as responsibly serving patrons of their establishments. In most cases, dram shop law hinges on common sense. Some dram shop law violations would include:

  • Serving alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 who then proceeds to cause an injury to another person or party.
  • Serving alcohol to an already visibly intoxicated person. Establishments that serve alcohol must be able to recognize when a patron has had too much to drink and cut off further alcohol service.
  • Allowing a potentially dangerous intoxicated person to leave when an injury is reasonably foreseeable. For example, the bartender sees a visibly intoxicated patron fumbling with his or her car keys as the patron heads outside. If the staff recognize an intoxicated person attempting to drive but do not take any reasonable steps to prevent it, they will incur liability if the intoxicated person causes injuries or other damages.

Any business owner who provides alcohol service must ensure staff knows how to handle intoxicated patrons. It’s important to note that dram shop laws apply to private individuals in some situations under Texas’ Social Host Liability law.

What Is Social Host Liability?

Similar to dram shop law, social host liability law places a duty of care on private individuals who host social events with alcohol. In particular, social host liability law applies to hosts over the age of 21 who allow minors under the age of 18 to consume alcohol; however, this does not apply to parents who allow their children to consume alcohol. Additionally, the adult must have either knowingly served alcohol to the minor or allowed the minor to consume alcohol on the adult’s property.

Liability for Dram Shop and Social Host Violations

Anyone found in violation of these laws faces fines, potential criminal charges when minors are involved, and civil actions from injured parties. People who suffer injuries and other damages from intoxicated individuals can refer to Texas dram shop law to sue for compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and personal property damage. Some plaintiffs may even receive punitive damages if they suffer injuries from grossly negligent or intentionally dangerous behavior.

Since cases involving dram shop laws also typically involve more than one defendant, any injured person in such a situation should reach out to a reliable personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Injured plaintiffs must also meet Texas’ statute of limitations, which is two years beginning on the date of the injury. The right attorney will be able to help his or her client prove the responsible parties’ degree of fault in the plaintiff’s damages. More importantly, if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, a Houston personal injury attorney can help determine all parties at fault and get the maximum compensation.