If I Am Injured In A Drunk Driving Accident, Can I Sue The Bar That Served The Drunk Driver?

Mar 28, 2021

Yes.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Annotated §2.02 known as The Texas Dram Shop Act provides a cause of action for injuries that result from the provision of an alcoholic beverage against:

(1) a licensed or permitted provider that sells, serves or provides alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult;

(2) a non-licensed or permitted provider that sells alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult;

(3) any adult not authorized by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Ann. §2.02(c)(1) who knowingly serves or provides alcohol to a minor;

(4) any adult not authorized by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Ann. §2.02(c)(1) who knowingly allows a minor to be served or provided alcohol on premises owned or leased by said adult.

In order to prove a case against a bar (the “provider” or “defendant”) for serving a drunk (the “recipient”) that caused injuries in an accident, the victim must establish that:

  1. If the defendant had a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license or permit, the defendant sold, served or provided alcohol to an adult recipient;

or

If the defendant did not have a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license or permit, the defendant sold alcohol to an adult recipient;

  1. When the defendant provided the alcoholic beverage to the recipient, it was apparent to the defendant that the recipient was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself or others; and
  2. The recipient’s intoxication proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Clearly in cases involving a Dram Shop cause of action, the most challenging hurdle is establishing that it was apparent to the defendant that the recipient was obviously intoxicated. For the conduct to be apparent, it must be visible, evident and easily observable. Whether a provider should have recognized a person was obviously intoxicated is determined by the objective standard of what a reasonably prudent person would have observed.

The Act does not require evidence that the defendant or its employees actually witnessed the intoxicated behavior; it only requires evidence that the recipient’s intoxication was visible, evident and easily observable.

The following are examples of evidence that can establish the recipient’s obvious intoxication:

  • Amount of alcohol served to the recipient
  • Physical signs such as disorientation, staggered gait, impaired balance, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech
  • Behavioral or emotional signs, such as loud, obnoxious or inappropriate conduct
  • A companion’s testimony that the recipient’s intoxicated condition was obvious

The Texas Dram Shop Act allows for not only an innocent third party but also the intoxicated recipient himself to bring a cause of action against the provider for injuries suffered as a result of the intoxication. That said, the plaintiff’s recovery is limited by his percentage of responsibility. As set forth in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §33.001, if the plaintiff’s responsibility is more than 50%, he will be barred from any recovery.

So yes, you can sue the bar that overserved the intoxicated patron that caused your injuries. And, as clearly provided in the statute, you can sue any other licensed or permitted provider such as a restaurant, convenient store, nightclub or country club similarly situated.

Furthermore, as a result of amendments to the statute, since September 1, 2005, any adult that knowingly serves alcohol to a minor, or knowingly allows alcohol to be served to a minor on property they own or lease with the exception of the minor’s parent, guardian, spouse, or court appointed custodian can also be held accountable for any injuries later caused as a result of that minor’s intoxication. Therefore, in the event an intoxicated minor causes injuries or death, a restaurant, bar, convenient store, nightclub, country club or even a “cool” parent who allows his child to host a big high school party could all be held liable for the damages.

Experienced Houston Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys Can Help

Texas Dram Shop cases require careful and thorough investigation. An experienced Texas drunk driving accident attorney can help hold the negligent parties accountable. Mario de la Garza has the experience. In a fatal drunk driving case, he previously helped the widow and surviving mother secure a jury verdict of over $11,000,000 against the bar that served the drunk. See Results – The de la Garza Law Group (dlgtriallaw.com)

If you or a loved one was injured in a drunk driving accident, the skilled attorneys at The de la Garza Law Group are ready to provide you with a free case evaluation. Contact The de la Garza Law Group today to schedule your free consultation. You can reach us at 713-784-1010 or toll free at 844-784-1010.