“Dram shop” is an outdated term for a bar or tavern. Under Texas dram shop laws, those injured by a drunk driver can hold the individual or establishment that sold or served the motorist alcohol financially liable for car accident damages. Our Waxahachie car accident lawyer could help you recover financial compensation for your medical bills, vehicle repairs if you were injured in a car accident.
What Is Texas’s Dram Shop Law?
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 2.01-2.03 outlines the state’s dram shop laws. According to the statute, you can hold a bar, tavern, restaurant, liquor store, or other licensed sellers of alcohol financially responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver. The business may be liable if it (or its employees) provided alcohol to an individual who was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.”
The law also permits injured parties to pursue damages from a “social host” who served alcohol to a minor under the age of 18. A social host is anyone over the age of 21 (other than the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse) who contributed to the minor’s intoxication at a private party or event. Social hosts are not liable for injuries caused by intoxicated adults over age 18.
Pursuing a dram shop claim does not disqualify you from also seeking compensation from the intoxicated driver. A personal injury lawyer with our law firm can help you explore all of your options for recovering damages after a drunk driving accident.
DUIs and DWIs
When discussing drunk driving collisions in Texas, it may be helpful to understand the difference between driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- DUI. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.041, it is illegal for individuals under 21 years old to operate a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. The penalty for drunk driving underage is a DUI.
- DWI. Individuals over the age of 21 are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. A DWI is the penalty for driving over the legal limit as an adult. Minors can also receive DWI charges if their BAC is greater than 0.08, though officers may choose to issue a more lenient DUI citation.
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Drunk Driving Accident Compensation
You can seek DUI/DWI car accident damages with a liability insurance claim or lawsuit. Compensation may include the following:
- Medical costs. You can recover current and future medical expenses arising from your car accident, including emergency transportation and treatment, medical procedures, hospital fees, doctor fees, rehabilitation and physical therapy, medications, medical equipment, and long-term nursing.
- Lost income. You can secure lost wages, earnings, and employment benefits. If you cannot return to your previous job or must leave the workforce due to a permanent or disabling injury, you can seek awards for your lost earning capacity.
- Vehicle damages. You can seek the cost of repairing your car or replacing your vehicle if the damages are a total loss.
- Pain and suffering. These damages compensate for physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and quality of life reductions.
- Punitive damages. Though rare, the civil courts can assess punitive damages against at-fault parties who acted with intentional malice or gross negligence. In some instances, drunk driving accident victims qualify for these awards.
Fatal Collision Damages
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that a quarter of people killed in car accidents were involved in alcohol-related collisions. If your loved one sustained a fatal injury, we can help you seek wrongful death damages. Awards may include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost income, loss of the deceased services, future financial support, companionship, and guidance, and survivors’ mental pain and anguish.
Proving Your Dram Shop Car Accident Claim
To win your dram shop lawsuit, you will need to prove that a drunk driver caused your car accident due to intoxication and that an establishment overserved them (or served them at all in cases involving minors and social hosts).
Our legal team can help you build a case using evidence, which may include the following:
- Police reports
- BAC and field sobriety test results
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw the crash or witnessed the dram shop or social host provide or serve alcohol
- Credit card statements, receipts, or guest checks proving the purchase of beverages from a commercial establishment
- Surveillance or cell phone video of the collision
- Photographs of the accident scene and vehicle damages
- Medical records
- Proof of your financial losses
How Long Do You Have to File a Dram Shop Lawsuit?
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, you have two years to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, starting with the date of the crash. If the statute of limitations expires, you cannot pursue your dram shop case in civil court.
In addition, the deadline will affect insurance claims related to the accident. If you cannot sue, there is no legal incentive for the insurance company to offer you a fair settlement. You could end up with no compensation or less compensation than you deserve.
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Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Drunk driving accident cases involving dram shop laws can be complex. It may benefit you to work with an experienced car accident lawyer, especially if the driver who hit you has no insurance and the alcohol provider is your only option for recovering damages. An accident attorney with our firm can:
- Investigate your case and collect evidence to support your claim
- Prove the driver who caused your crash was DUI or DWI
- Establish dram shop liability
- Complete and file your insurance claims and legal paperwork
- Handle case-related phone calls, texts, emails, and meeting
- Identify and calculate your economic and non-economic damages
- Tirelessly pursue the maximum compensation possible
- Prepare a lawsuit and represent you at trial if necessary
Contact Clay Jenkins & Associates About Your Drunk Driving Dram Shop Case
Since 1948, Clay Jenkins & Associates has advocated for the rights of car accident victims in Texas. We can use our experience and resources to secure fair compensation for your personal injury. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can take your dram shop case for nothing upfront or out of pocket.