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The Texas Dram Shop law and Liability for Injuries Caused by Drunken Patrons

Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 at 4:52 pm    

Very few people go out to a club or a bar with the intention of causing violence,despite what you might see in a film. Unfortunately, some people seem to become violent easily whenever they have had too much to drink. That alcohol fueled violence can spill over and affect someone who has had nothing to do with the person who has become drunk. They just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Texas, anyone who suffers serious injury because of a drunken attacker whose behavior has been exacerbated by being served alcohol may be able to sue the establishment that served the alcohol. This law is known as the Dram Shop Law.

An example of the Dram Shop Law in action

Let’s say you go out one evening to a bar and have a few drinks with some friends. Youcan’t help noticing that a small group drinking near you is getting drunker and drunker throughout the evening. At some point, one of these guys takes offense at you staring at his group and staggers over and hits you over the head with an empty bottle. You are quite badly injured and need hospital treatment,suffering gashes that need stitching and some loss of vision. Based on this scenario you have the potential right to sue both the bar staff or the bar management as well as the man who hit you. This is regardless of any criminal charge that may have been laid against the drunk bar patron by police assuming that they intervened after you were led away for hospital treatment.

Negligence is the basis of the Dram Shop Law

Like any personal injury situation, liability for someone’s injury depends on proving that negligence caused the injury or made the injury more likely. In the case of a bar, or other commercial enterprise deliberately serving alcohol to someone who was becoming too drunk to be safe, this is construed under Texas law as a case of negligence. The law is an extension of premises liability. The bar staff should not allow the person to drink any more if in their judgment he or she is becoming unable to control his or her behavior satisfactorily and may show signs of violence. The bar management or owners may be judged to be liable if staff are not adequately supervised or trained to stop serving alcohol to someone becoming too drunk.

The same law could also feasibly apply to a non commercial situation, such as in someone’s own home. For example, if people have been invited round to someone’s home and alcohol is provided, then the person who is supplying the alcohol maybe regarded as liable if the alcohol is continually given out to someone who is becoming too drunk to be considered safe.

The Dram Shop Law may also be used if a bar patron has been served with more alcohol than he or she can obviously handle, knowing that that person would attempt to drive away in a vehicle. If the drunk driver causes an injury, then the injured victim may be able to sue the bar management or staff because of their negligence.

Negligence must be proven

As in any personal injury claim, negligence must be proved for the claim to be successful. There is no point in just claiming that the bar was partly responsible for making the person who hurt you drunk. You have to have evidence that this was the case. In the case of a bar attack, it is likely that you would have several other people present at the time who would have seen what had happened and may have also noticed that the attack took place after the attacker had been sold alcohol past the point that that was sensible. These eyewitnesses would be valuable evidence in the event that you made a claim against the bar.

It is likely that if the incident was unprovoked and violent that police would have been called to deal with it or at least investigate it. Their report could also be useful evidence when attempting to show that the attacker should not have been sold as much alcohol as he had been.

You will need a personal injury attorney to help you with your claim

Suing a bar, or other establishment, because of their part in an alcohol fueled injury will not be easy. You are strongly advised to discuss your injury and the incident that led to it with a San Antonio premises liability lawyer. You can contact the San Antonio office of the Patina Law Firm at 833-210-4878.