Houston Dram Shop Liability Attorney

Houston Dram Shop Liability Attorney

Drunk driving accidents are, sadly, all too common in Texas. If you or someone you love has been hurt by a drunk driver in Houston, TX, you may have a claim against the driver as well as a negligent bar or restaurant who served them. 

Dram shop liability may allow you to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more from the alcohol provider. Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. has over 45 years of experience representing drunk driving victims. Contact our Houston law office to schedule your free consultation at (713) 224-4878 with a Houston dram shop liability attorney to discuss how we can help.

How Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. Can Help with a Dram Shop Liability Case in Houston

Drunk driving accidents are one of the leading causes of serious traffic accidents and traffic deaths in Houston. When a drunk driver causes your accident, you can pursue a claim against them for your damages. However, their insurance coverage and assets may be insufficient to compensate you. 

Pursuing a dram shop claim against the negligent establishment that overserved them can help make you financially whole. 

Dram shop liability is a notoriously complex area of law. An experienced Houston personal injury attorney at Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. will help you pursue the full compensation you deserve. Our firm has earned numerous awards and recovered life-changing settlements and verdicts for our clients.

When you hire us to pursue your dram shop case in Houston, Texas, we will:

  • Provide sound legal advice, guidance, and support
  • Investigate your accident to identify all liable parties
  • Work with specialists for expert testimony to prove liability, damages, and the extent of your injuries
  • Negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company to seek a fair settlement
  • Take your case to court and seek maximum damages if necessary 

Do not allow a negligent bar or restaurant to escape liability for their actions. Contact our law firm today to speak with a Houston dram shop liability attorney ready to help.

Overview of Dram Shop Laws in Texas

Texas law prohibits restaurants and bars from overserving alcohol to customers. When someone is injured or killed by a drunk driver, the bar or restaurant that overserved them may share liability for the accident.

What is the Texas Dram Shop Law?

“Dram shop” is a term that refers to a business that sells alcohol to customers. The Texas dram shop law allows victims to sue an establishment that overserves alcohol to someone who later commits a crime or causes an accident.

To hold an alcohol provider responsible for a drunk driver’s actions, you must show:

  • The alcohol provider could tell the patron was “obviously intoxicated” to the point of being a clear danger to themself or another, and
  • The patron’s intoxication was a proximate cause of someone else’s injuries or damages.

Dram shop claims can be difficult to prove, but they give victims of drunk driving accidents an additional avenue to seek damages.

How Do You Prove Dram Shop Liability in Houston?

There are two key elements to prove in a dram shop case: 1) the establishment served the drunk driver alcohol even though they were obviously intoxicated; and 2) this was a proximate cause of your accident.

“Obvious intoxication” can be difficult to prove. An experienced Houston dram shop attorney will conduct a careful investigation and may work with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Servers generally will not admit to overserving a drunk patron. So, we may use witness testimony, expert testimony, and circumstantial evidence to prove they did. 

Common signs someone was “obviously intoxicated” include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Breath that smells like alcohol
  • Unsteady gait
  • The bartender or server was told the patron had already been drinking before arriving
  • The patron ordered and consumed enough alcohol that an average person would be drunk 

Proving that the alcohol sale and consumption was a proximate cause of a crash is easier to establish. A proximate cause simply means your injuries occurred as a natural and direct consequence of the overconsumption of alcohol.

Types of Dram Shop Claims in Houston

There are two types of dram shop cases in Houston:

  • First-party dram shop liability cases
  • Third-party dram shop liability cases 

A first-party Houston dram shop claim allows you to hold an establishment liable if they overserved you alcohol, which later caused you harm. These types of claims are not addressed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Code, but they have been upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.

A third-party claim allows a victim to hold an establishment liable after they are injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver. Most Houston dram shop cases involve third-party claims.

Who Can Be Held Liable Under Texas Dram Shop Law?

The dram shop law allows any establishment that sells alcohol to be held liable for injuries or damages due to overserving an intoxicated patron. This generally includes bars and restaurants. However, even liquor stores, grocery stores, and convenience stores can also be held liable.

The dram shop law in Texas does not allow “social hosts” to be held liable for the actions of an intoxicated person. This means people who overserve alcohol to guests, family, or friends in their own homes are generally not liable for the intoxicated person’s conduct. The primary exception to this is an adult social host who knowingly serves alcohol to a minor.

What is the Safe Harbor Defense?

Houston bars and restaurants have a defense to dram shop claims under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.14. When alcohol providers comply with the requirements of the “safe harbor” defense, they can avoid liability in a dram shop case. 

The restaurant or bar must prove that:

  • All employees attended Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission training
  • The employee that served the drunk driver completed the training
  • The bar owner or employer did not encourage or pressure their employee to violate the law 

However, victims may overcome this protection by showing not all employees were certified, bartenders or servers were pressured to continue serving, or the facility has a history of TABC violations.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Houston Dram Shop Liability Attorney

If you have been seriously injured by a drunk driver, Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. is here to help you. We will investigate the potential for a dram shop claim and exhaust all avenues of compensation on your behalf. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case review with a Houston dram shop liability lawyer prepared to fight for you.