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Are businesses that serve alcohol liable for drunk driving crashes?

Drunk driving crashes are a serious public safety concern in Texas. In 2018, approximately 940 traffic fatalities were linked to drunk driving, according to TxDOT.

College Station Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

When a drunk driver causes someone’s injury or death, the injured person (or loved one) can pursue damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Added damages may be recovered from a third party who contributed to the crash under the Texas dram shop law (Chapter 2 of the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code).

A dram shop is a legal term used to describe a business or establishment where beer, wine, and spirits are served. These establishments include bars, restaurants, taverns, breweries, distilleries, and liquor stores.

How does the dram shop law work in Texas?

The Texas dram shop law creates liability for businesses and establishments when someone is injured in a drunk driving collision or other incident linked to alcohol. When someone’s injury or death is caused by a person who is impaired by alcohol, these establishments can be held accountable for:

  • Serving a patron who shows obvious signs of impairment
  • Knowingly serving a minor

Many owners and operators of establishments that serve alcohol know the laws and when to cut off service to a patron. Some fail to do so for the following reasons:

  • They value the profit gain from a patron over the safety of others.
  • Failure to properly train staff to recognize the signs of impairment and take appropriate action
  • Failure to check ID
  • Establishments are understaffed.
  • Staff refuse to cut off patrons they may know personally.

Social host liability

The Texas dram shop law also applies to social hosts who provide alcohol at dinner parties, workplace parties and other events. The implications for social hosts differ from businesses.

Unlike the provisions that apply to businesses and establishments, social hosts are not held liable for the actions of adult patrons who showed obvious signs of impairment.

Social hosts can only be held liable when they serve unrelated minors, who then cause someone’s injury or death. For a social host to be held liable, he or she must be at least 21 years of age. Moreover, a social host doesn’t necessarily have to serve alcohol to a minor, but rather, only make it available.

How to get started on your drunk driving car accident claim

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with a drunk driver, the Texas attorneys at Chad Jones Law can help you explore your legal options. Our legal team can investigate your drunk driving crash, and possibly find a link to a third-party contributor through:

  • Witness statements
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Social medial posts and electronic records
  • Admittance of fault
  • A detailed police report
  • Credit card records and receipts

To find out how our attorneys can help you, contact us online or call (800) 645-6637 and schedule your free consultation.

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