Drunk Driving and Dram Shop Liability
In the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, victims are often left with a number of serious questions. Why did the driver choose to drive while drunk? How much did the driver have, and where did he or she get it? Why didn’t anyone stop him or her from getting so intoxicated?
These questions may have important legal ramifications. If the drunk driver became intoxicated in a bar or restaurant and the employees of that establishment continued to serve the intoxicated patron, that establishment may bear some responsibility for the drunk driving accident. This legal responsibility is known as dram shop liability.
Dram shop laws state that establishments that serve alcohol (known as “dram shops”) have a certain amount of responsibility for the behavior of their intoxicated guests. If a guest becomes obviously intoxicated, the establishment must stop serving that guest. If the establishment continues to serve the guest, the dram shop could become partially responsible for any injuries that that guest causes later. This is true even of injuries caused after the guest leaves the premises.
Dram shop laws are most commonly applied to drunk driving accidents. In many cases, poorly trained or negligent bartenders and waiters overserve guests, allowing or even encouraging drunk patrons to continue drinking. All too frequently, these intoxicated guests then get behind the wheel of a car and cause an accident. The victim of this accident would then have the right to pursue a personal injury case against two negligent parties: the drunk driver, and the bar that overserved.
These laws are important, because they recognize that bars and restaurants have enormous power to encourage unsafe levels of intoxication in their customers. Dram shop laws ensure that these establishments will cut off their patrons before they become so intoxicated that they are a danger to themselves or others.
In practice, dram shop cases can be difficult to prove. These cases are often hotly contested by bar owners, and successful claims require a relatively high level of evidence. For this reason, it is advisable to move forward with the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney.
Attorney Robert Greening, lead attorney of Greening Law, P.C., has more than 24 years of personal injury experience in the state of Texas. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, our firm is ready to provide personalized, one-on-one representation. To schedule a consultation with attorney Greening, contact us online or call 972-934-8900.