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Is There More Money Out There?

 Posted on July 17,2015 in Uncategorized

Observers estimate that over two million Texas motorists do not have auto insurance. Millions more only carry the state-required minimum. In many instances, the amount may be insufficient to cover economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, to say nothing of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. When these drivers cause car wrecks, there may be an alternate source of recovery for victims.

Alcohol Seller Liability

The liquor industry successfully fought this measure for decades, but in 1987, Texas finally adopted its version of the dram shop law, which holds bars, restaurants, and other establishments liable if their intoxicated patrons cause an accident.

To establish liability under the statute, a plaintiff must prove two elements:

  • Obviously Intoxicated: Most people know the signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unsteady balance, an odor of alcohol, and extreme personality traits. Bartenders and wait staff are particularly familiar with these indicators, either through experience or training.
  • Hazardous: The patrons must be so intoxicated that they are dangerous to themselves or others. Of course, if intoxicated people walk across the street, they are dangerous to themselves or others.

If the patron was a minor (under 21), the burden of proof is a bit lower.

Employer Liability

Taxi drivers, delivery drivers, long-haul truckers, and other professionals cause thousands of accidents each year. Legally, an employer must pay for damages resulting from the negligent acts of an employee in two situations:

  • Respondeat Superior: This Latin phrase means “let the master answer.” For the theory to apply, the employee must be acting within the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident. All these terms are very broadly defined.
  • Negligent Entrustment: Sometimes called “negligent hiring” or “negligent supervision,” an employer must use reasonable care when hiring and supervising employees. If the employer knows, or should know, that the worker is not a trustworthy driver, the employer is liable for damages.

The government recently broadened the definition of “employer,” leading to the possibility that car and truck rental agencies, like Enterprise and U-Haul, may be responsible for the negligent acts of people who lease their vehicles.

People or companies who had nothing to do with the crash itself may still be liable for damages. For a free consultation with an aggressive New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a car wreck case.

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