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Exploring Texas’ Dram Shop Laws

Exploring Texas’ Dram Shop Laws

Exploring Texas’ Dram Shop Laws 150 150 CMZ Law Lufkin/Houston

Can I sue a bar after an alcohol-related accident?

Each year, over 10,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  On top of alcohol-related car accidents, excessive consumption of alcohol also commonly gives rise to slip and falls and acts of violence.  If you have been injured by an intoxicated individual, you may wish to pursue a claim against the bar or other establishment that served him or her alcohol.  The law in Texas concerning the liability of sellers of alcohol for negligent acts committed by customers is known as the dram shop law.

Texas Dram Shop Law

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2 contains the state’s laws regarding dram shop.  Under Texas law, sellers of alcohol may be held liable for injuries inflicted by customers if:

  • The alcohol was sold or otherwise provided to a minor; or
  • The customer was served alcohol despite the fact that he or she was obviously intoxicated to the points that he or she served a clear danger to the safety of self and others; and
  • The customer’s intoxication was a foreseeable cause of the injuries suffered by the third party.  

Even with these elements met, Texas alcohol vendors may be able to seek protections under the Safe Harbor defense, which can eliminate liability for some employers who comply with Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) laws.

Take the following example:  Ron stopped at The Saloon, a Texas bar, after work.  Ron purchased several strong drinks.  He began to clearly have trouble speaking and walking, but the bartender continued to serve him.  Ron left the bar, got into his car, and swerved into oncoming traffic on his way home, injuring a Texas family.  The injured family may now seek compensation directly from Ron, and also may be able to file a dram shop claim against The Saloon for serving alcohol to Ron after it was clear Ron could present a danger to himself or others.

Plaintiffs injured as a result of the actions of an alcohol vendor may be able to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.  Most dram shop claims in Texas must be filed within two years of the date of injury.  Contact a personal injury lawyer right away if you have been injured by an intoxicated individual to assess whether you may also have a viable dram shop claim.