Can I sue a bar or other liquored licensed vendor after an alcohol-related accident?
The term “Dramshop” refers to a shop typically known as a bar, tavern or restaurant to sell alcohol sold by the dram, which is a small unit of liquid. Wright v. Moffit 437 A.2d 554. The legislature enacted the Dram Shop Act to prevent bars, restaurants, clubs and other licensed vendors to not sell alcohol to obviously intoxicated individuals who could potentially harm others or themselves. Dram shop liability lawsuits are known in most states. The purpose of this law is to allow individuals to sue not only the person who caused the accident but the alcohol provider, for example, a bar, to prove that they were negligent in selling alcohol to an obvious intoxicated customer.
An individual who wishes to pursue this type of claim should be aware that there is absolutely no guarantee that the court will find the establishment liable to pay damages. The person needs to recognize that filing a claim against the establishment could be another source of recovery for the plaintiff. The complexity of Dram shop cases can be too challenging for one to handle on their own. To pursue a Dram shop case, the plaintiff will have to prove standard negligence and that it was apparent to the provider of the alcohol that the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated and presented a clear danger to himself and others. Washington v. Liem. The Act does not provide a definition of what “clear danger” is. An example would be an individual exceeded their limit of alcohol at a bar, an employee leads the intoxicated person to a room to sleep it off, and two hours later the employee escorts the intoxicated individual out of the bar. Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, two hours of rest does not relieve the individual from their intoxication, especially if he or she leaves the bar driving a car, so it can be argued that the individual still presented a clear danger to himself and others. To prove the latter can be challenging because the establishment can easily claim they did not believe it was apparent the individual was heavily intoxicated.
To file a Dramshop case, individuals are encouraged to seek representation of an attorney. Eric Reyes, who is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Law is qualified to handle difficult cases like Dram shop lawsuits. One of the tasks his office will have to do to pursue a claim like this is to establish that the business negligently served alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person. By doing so, he and his staff will have to do discovery work to determine who the servers were the night of the accident, if those servers took the necessary training courses the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code requires, and locate the establishment’s liquor licenses/permits. Traditionally, he and his staff will have to more discovery work to make your lawsuit as strong as possible.
If you have more questions about these types of lawsuits, please give our office a call at (817) 332-1522.