A dram shop law is a statute that allows an injured person to sue the establishment that served the intoxicated person who caused the injury. This law is also known as a “Liquor Liability Law.”
The purpose of dram shop laws is to hold establishments liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons who then injure others. Dram shop laws may apply to the following establishments:
Dram shop laws vary from state to state. Some states, including Texas, have a very strict dram shop law that allows injured persons to sue for any damages caused by the intoxicated person, regardless of whether the establishment served the person intentionally or negligently. However, TX law does require the person bringing suit to prove that the customer was so visibly or obviously intoxicated that the establishment knew or should have known that the person was intoxicated at the time they were served.
The main purpose of dram shop laws is to protect the public. By allowing injured persons to sue liquor establishments, dram shop laws make these businesses more cautious about serving obviously intoxicated patrons. Thus, dram shop laws help reduce drunk driving accidents by making alcohol establishments take more responsibility for serving the intoxicated person.
For example, say an individual goes to a bar and has several drinks over several hours before leaving the premises. While driving home, the intoxicated person gets into an accident that injures another party. Under the state’s dram shop laws, the injured person may file suit against the bar for negligently serving the visibly intoxicated individual who caused his injuries.
In an effort to reduce bar liability, some bars implement a “dram shop control” procedure. Under dram shop control, the establishment must ask for identification from every person who orders alcohol. The establishment can refuse service to anyone who is visibly intoxicated or over the legal drinking age of 21. If a patron objects, he/she may leave without drinking.
If you have been injured by an intoxicated person, a dram shop lawyer can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. It is important to note that the statute of limitations for dram shop lawsuits is very short, so it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. This area of law can be complex, and an experienced dram shop lawyer will be able to help you navigate the legal system.
Alternatively, if you are the owner of a liquor establishment that has been sued for serving an intoxicated patron, a dram shop attorney can represent your interests in court and help you defend against the allegations.
If you would like to speak with a Texas dram shop lawyer about your case, please contact our law firm. We would be happy to answer any of your questions and help you understand the applicable state law.