What is a dram shop?
If you are not familiar with the term dram shop, you are not alone. A dram shop is a legal term used to describe any establishment that sells or serves alcoholic beverages. This can include any bar, tavern, restaurant, liquor store or other form of business that sells alcohol. The word comes from an old term referring to shops that sold distilled spirits by small units of liquid called drams. Liability and regulations for dram shops are governed by a specific body of law that can differ from state to state. In Texas, establishments are prohibited from selling to minors and from serving visibly or seriously intoxicated customers. If you have ever seen someone get cut-off in a bar, you’ve witnessed dram shop liability laws in action.
As opposed to premises liability laws, the legislation which regulates dram shop and alcohol laws were developed primarily to protect patrons and other third-party individuals from being injured or killed as a result of alcohol-related accidents, specifically auto accidents caused by drunk drivers. In recent years, the federal and state crackdown on DUIs and DWIs has led to increased concern and enforcement over the ways businesses are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages. In fact, the first Texas Dram Shop Act did not become law until 1987.
Advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, have also contributed to stiffer laws and harsher penalties. According to MADD, dram shop laws were not designed to decrease personal responsibility, and punishing establishments for over serving customers does not mean individuals are no longer liable for their actions. Punitive damages are often charged to both drunk drivers and serving establishments in order to punish their actions and to cause them to rethink their practices.
Personal Injury Claims and Dram Shop Liability
Under § 2.02 if the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, establishments are explicitly prohibited from selling alcohol to customers who are “obviously intoxicated to the extent that [they] presented a clear danger to [themselves] and others.” Dram shop laws are extremely serious and state government takes an active role in reducing the number of alcohol related injuries and fatalities on Texas roadways. When injuries result because establishments fail to obey dram shop laws, personal injury claims can be filed.
The Ferguson Law Firm, P.C. has worked with many cases involving dram shop liability and injury-causing accidents. In the past we have provided legal representation for the wife of a man who was permanently disabled after his vehicle was hit by a drunk driver who had been over served by a nearby bar. Because of the drunk driver and irresponsible bar, the wife was left to take care of her paralyzed husband and their small children. Situations like these are sad, tragic and truly unnecessary, and in the event that they happen, innocent victims and their families have every right to be fairly and adequately compensated.
First-Rate Trial Lawyers
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident caused by a driver who had been over served or if you were injured as a result of a business failing to act with reasonable care according to dram shop liability laws, you may be entitled to receive compensation. It is recommended that you seek legal aid as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that your case will have the best chance of obtaining a successful outcome. Dram shop liability is a relatively new area of law in Texas, and it is best to have the experienced legal assistance our firm can provide to tackle any discrepancies that may arise.