Can a Bar Be Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in Texas?
If you are injured in a car crash with a drunk driver, you may assume that the driver bears full responsibility for their intoxication and the resulting damages. However, according to Texas law, bars, restaurants, and other businesses that serve alcoholic beverages have a responsibility to do so safely. Under certain circumstances, if a business fails to uphold this responsibility, they can be found partially liable in a personal injury case involving a driver that the business served.
Texas Dram Shop Laws
Legal statutes addressing a business’s liability for damages related to alcohol intoxication are commonly referred to as “dram shop” laws. In Texas, such laws apply in two kinds of circumstances. The first is when an individual or business with an alcohol license or permit overserves a customer. In order for the business to be liable in this case, there must be evidence that the server knew that the person being served was already intoxicated to the point of posing a danger to self and others and that alcohol intoxication was the cause of the damages for which compensation is being sought.
The other type of circumstance is when a business knowingly serves alcohol to a minor under the age of 18. In this case, it is not necessary to demonstrate that the business overserved the minor, only that they were responsible for serving any of the drinks that led to the minor’s intoxication, which subsequently caused injuries or damages. Liability under these circumstances extends not only to businesses with an alcohol license but also to social hosts or any adults over the age of 21 who serve a minor or who allow a minor to be served on their premises, provided that the adult is not the minor’s guardian or spouse.
Questions of potential dram shop liability have been brought to light regarding a recent fatal accident in the South Central Texas area, in which a 20-year-old driver has been charged with intoxication manslaughter. Law enforcement has reported that the driver may have been served at a bar before the accident, but in this case, although the driver was below the legal drinking age of 21, they were not below the age of 18. Under circumstances such as these, any dram shop case would likely need to demonstrate that the driver was already intoxicated at the time of being served.
Contact a New Braunfels Car Accident Attorney
At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we believe in the importance of holding all liable parties accountable for the injuries they cause. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a drunk driver, we can help you determine whether you can pursue compensation from a third party like a bar or restaurant. Contact a New Braunfels personal injury lawyer at 830-606-0404 for a free consultation.