When a drunk driver causes a crash that leaves you or a loved one injured or worse, you are entitled to seek compensation from the liable party. Obviously, the driver is most responsible for the crash, and this will be easy to prove if a sobriety test was given and he was charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). However, you may be able to hold additional parties accountable for the accident under Texas Law.
Other Potentially Liable Parties
Depending on some very specific circumstances, you may be able to hold the parties who contributed to the intoxication of the driver responsible for the accident. In an effort to put checks in place to stop people from drinking too much and driving, Texas has laws known as dram shop laws and social host laws that can pin partial liability on those who served alcohol to the drunk driver before he drove. In fact, Texas has some of the most far-reaching of these statutes in the country. To learn more about third-party liability in drunk driving cases, read this article on How Do Bars And Restaurants Contribute To Drunk Driving Wrecks?.
Dram Shop Laws in Texas
Named for an 18th-century English practice of selling liquor by the dram (equal to approximately a teaspoon today), dram shops refer to any place serving alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, etc. If the drunk driver who caused an accident was served alcohol in a bar or restaurant, that establishment might be held partially liable for the resulting accident in the following situations:
- The alcohol was sold or given to a minor under age 18, or
- When the alcohol was sold, the customer was "obviously" intoxicated to the point that he or she posed "a clear danger" to the safety of self and others, and
- The intoxication was a "proximate," or foreseeable, cause of the injuries suffered.
In other words, when bartenders continue to serve obviously drunk patrons, they can be held liable for accidents the drinkers later cause. If the patron was under the age of 18, he or she does not have to be obviously drunk to hold the server responsible, as Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking.
Social Host Liability Laws
Clearly, a person does not have to be in a bar to get drunk. Texas also has laws that hold social hosts responsible for serving alcohol to minors in the following situations:
- The host is over 21 and serves a person under 18.
- The host is not the parent or legal guardian of the drinker.
- The host served or provided the alcohol, knowing the drinker was under the age of 18.
- An adult property owner allowed minors to drink alcohol on the property, even if the adult did not purchase or serve the alcohol.
If the drunk driver who caused your accident was under the age of 18, it is likely that someone else may be held partially responsible for your damages, as they are considered minors in the state of Texas.
How Can We Help?
Proving dram shop or social host liability requires a great deal of legwork and investigative experience. Fortunately, The Button Law Firm has the resources and experience to do both exceptionally. You can count on us to pursue every avenue of compensation when you are injured by a Texas drunk driver. If you need more information on personal injury cases before calling us, download my free book! Once you check that out, call us at 214-699-4409 to set up a consultation, or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page.