Dram shop laws exist in 38 states, including Texas. These laws help establish liability for those who sell alcoholic beverages, such as bar owners, liquor store owners, or anyone else who has a license to dispense alcohol. Of particular note, a person who sells to a visibly intoxicated person may be liable for any damages that person causes under Texas law.
Before the establishment of dram shop laws, shop and bar owners effectively escaped liability when they sold alcohol to people who later caused harm to another. The passing of dram shop laws – so named because alcohol used to come in measurements called drams – helps provide victims of negligence an important avenue of recourse when they sustain injuries from an intoxicated person.
If you or a loved one suffered harm because of an intoxicated person’s misconduct, you may be able to file a claim against the party who sold them the alcohol under Texas law. Contact Houston personal injury attorney Brian White to schedule a free review of your legal options today.
What Is a Dram Shop Case?
A victim of negligence arising from intoxication may file a dram shop case against anyone who serves or sells alcoholic beverages. Bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and anyone else who dispenses alcohol to consumers may be liable for injuries under dram shop law. However, a plaintiff must show sufficient evidence that the harm they suffered directly resulted from an establishment serving a person too much alcohol.
Types of Dram Shop Cases
Dram shop cases come in two main forms: first-party claims and third-party claims.
In a first-party claim, a person who consumes too much alcohol claims that a bar or other entity should be responsible for serving too much alcohol. However, these types of cases prove to be difficult to litigate and make up the minority of dram shop cases. Alcohol consumption is a matter of personal responsibility and the courts generally see it as such. On the other hand, an exception might exist for serving alcohol to minors.
Third-party claims make up the majority of these types of cases and may occur when an intoxicated person injures a third party. A classic example of a third-party dram shop case occurs when a drinking establishment lets a visibly intoxicated person get behind the wheel of a car, and he or she causes a serious car crash.
Establishing Liability for a Dram Shop Case
In order to prevail in a dram shop case, the plaintiff must show sufficient evidence that a drinking establishment was partially liable for the injuries he or she incurred. The main legal grounds in dram shop cases are recklessness, negligence, and intentional conduct.
- Negligence occurs when a party fails to act in a manner that a reasonable person would. For example, a reasonably careful drinking establishment would not continue to serve a visibly intoxicated person, then allow them to leave the premises by driving.
- Recklessness differs slightly from negligence and involves the notion that a person is aware of the risks of an action but disregards them. The mere act of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person may be grounds for recklessness.
- Lastly, intentional conduct may occur if a drinking establishment knowingly violates the law, for example, by serving alcohol to a minor.
Your Houston Dram Shop Attorney
Texas is one of several states to have dram shop laws on the books. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of an intoxicated person, you may have a case against the party who sold him or her the alcohol. These types of cases require an in-depth knowledge of local law. Contact attorney Brian White today to schedule a free and strategic review of your legal options today.