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Dram Shop Law Archives - The Law Office of WT Johnson Blog

What You Need to Know: Dram Shop Laws in Texas

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on August 12, 2017

In Texas, a driver who causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol can face serious criminal penalties. It is, of course, the responsibility of a driver to make the choice to either get behind the wheel or hand over his keys. Nothing changes or alleviates the liability that rests squarely on the shoulders of a drunk driver.

But the reason that driving under the influence is illegal is because alcohol impairs judgment. Once someone’s judgment is impaired, his or her ability to recognize and reflect on that condition is affected. Read the rest »

Posted in: Dram Shop Law

Texas Dram Shop Claims

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on April 2, 2014

A “dram shop” is technically any establishment in which alcoholic beverages are consumed and/or sold. Some examples of this would be a restaurant or a bar. A dram shop law/act holds the establishment liable for any injuries that resulted from someone who has consumed alcohol at the establishment.  For example, if the person is drinking at a restaurant and is injured during a driving accident after leaving the establishment.

In order for the establishment to be held liable under a dram shop law/act, it must be proven that the location sold alcohol to a person that was visibly or obviously intoxicated, or to the point of obvious intoxication, and that the serving of alcohol was the specific cause of the person’s injuries. An establishment can call a taxi cab for an intoxicated person, if need be, which can help take liability off of them. Dram shop laws may also cover selling alcohol to minors who are intoxicated.   How to Spot a Drunk Driver

Dram Shop Law in Texas

Texas Dram Shop Act is in the Alcoholic Beverage Code, which holds any establishment liable for selling or serving alcohol to any persons who are visibly or obviously intoxicated. The person suing the bar or restaurant must be able to prove that they were obviously intoxicated when they were sold the alcoholic beverage. Minors are also able to sue business establishes for any injuries they incurred from the sale of alcohol. Minors may only do this if they were intoxicated when they were sold the alcoholic beverages, and their injuries came as a direct result from this consumption.

Recent Texas case law has interpreted Dram Shop Acts in a different light about the amount of liability that businesses may be sued for. In Texas, alcohol selling establishments, who are licensed, may only be held liable for the portion of the responsibility that a jury will assign to it. The driver will be held liable for the portion of injury that they themselves may have caused by consuming alcohol and then driving. Texas takes DWI’s very seriously, and it is clear that they believe that not only the restaurant/bar is at fault. If the driver chooses to get behind the wheel of a car, they must take some responsibility for their actions. The percentage of liability is calculated using a variety of factors and procedures, including: whether or not other people were injured in the accident.

In Texas the “Dram Shop” will only be a potential source of recovery for injured plaintiffs, and there is no guarantee that the shop will be held entirely liable, or liable at all depending on the circumstances. Dram shop owners are not automatically liable for injuries by a patron sustained as a result of their serving alcohol.

Hiring An Experienced Attorney

Whether you are the injured person, a family member or loved one is the injured person, or you are a dram shop operator, it is important that you hire an experienced attorney if you are involved in a dram shop claim.  These claims can be complicated and with the help of an attorney, you may be able to successfully obtain compensation or refute a dram shop law claim. If you have any questions about Texas Dram Shop laws, please do not hesitate to contact us, at the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson.

When Does Dram Shop Liability Come Into Play?

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on February 5, 2014

If in an intoxicated person injures another, are they always at fault? One set of Texas laws says no. Dram shop liability laws, found in 38 states, say that some fault lies with the barkeep who provided said drunk person with alcohol. The law dates back to when establishments served by the “dram,” or an eighth of a fluid ounce. Anytime blame is said to lie with a party not directly involved in a personal injury case, things get a little tricky. So when exactly can a dram shop liability law be used?How to Drive Safely in the Rain

Dram Shop Info

A dram shop liability law works so that a person who was injured by an intoxicated person can sue the establishment that provided alcohol that contributed to that person’s state. The law follows with the line of thinking that believes that once a patron has become clearly intoxicated it falls partially in the hands of the bar staff to prevent them from drinking anymore. Dram shop laws differ from state to state. Some only address the issue of serving underage drinkers. In Texas a patron has to obviously appear as a threat to both themselves and others for the dram shop law to come into play. The state laws say that if you have a license that permits you to serve alcohol then you can become partially responsible to what happens to the people who drink it. The dram shop liability requires the accusing party to prove that:

  • The patron was visibly intoxicated when they were being sold alcohol.

  • Or, that a patron was a minor, and illegally served alcohol.

  • The servers were more than 50% responsible for what happened to the injured party.

Preventing Misuse of the Dram Shop Liability

Many aspects of the dram shop liability are objective. What appears drunk to one person can seem fine to another. Servers are often very busy, and sometimes inappropriate behavior can be easily overlooked. Some people, although highly intoxicated, do not display any of the behaviors characteristic of someone who could potentially cause themselves or others harm. Because of these reasons there are steps businesses can take to protect themselves against dram shop liability. Most of these consist of different employee trainings aimed at preventing dangerous levels of intoxication in the first place. There are also training schools that sellers can attend hosted by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Here servers are taught how to more readily recognize intoxicated patrons, how to deal with unruly customers and prudent serving methods.

No matter which side of the dram shop liability it is important you have strong representation in fighting or enacting this liability. Dram shop laws are tricky to navigate. If your legal representation isn’t knowledgeable in the area you could wind up having your case fall out from beneath you. It’s important that you hire lawyers who can best handle the ins and outs of dram shop liability. If you or a loved one has been injured at the hands of a neglectful barkeep call the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson today and get the help you need.

Posted in: Dram Shop Law

Houston Strip Club Sued Over Wrongful Death of Teen

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on September 13, 2012

Erasmo Ramirez was driving drunk and going 130 m.p.h. when he smashed into Emily Jones’ truck and killed her. Her family is now suing Rick’s Cabaret for allegedly over serving the drunk driver.

Right before the crash, Ramirez was thrown out of Rick’s Cabaret since he refused to pay for more drinks, according to the family’s lawyers. Investigators state that his blood alcohol content was .295, which is more than three times Texas’ legal limit.

Ramirez has already been charged with intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

According to the lawsuit, since Rick’s Cabaret requires its entertainers to pay a nightly “house charge” to work at the club, workers are encouraged to pay the fee by building up credits through how many drinks they sell. The attorneys state this results in many workers over-serving alcohol to the club’s visitors.

If the strip club had not been so focused on money, then Emily would have been able to continue living her beautiful life, stated her lawyers.

This situation could be a violation of Texas’ Dram Shop law, which doesn’t allow licensed alcohol vendors to serve visibly intoxicated patrons. This law holds alcohol sellers accountable for drunk driving accidents if those patrons later injure others because of their intoxication.

If you or your loved one was a victim of a drunk driver due to the negligence of a restaurant or bar, you should contact the Law Office of W.T. Johnson immediately. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve. 

Posted in: Dram Shop Law

If you would like to discuss your claim with a member of our team, don’t hesitate to call us at (214) 231-0544. We’re ready to help you, and won’t rest until you receive the settlement you deserve.

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