In this article, Austin dram shop attorney Michael Grossman explains how first-party dram cases function and how they are a useful tool in dissuading bars from breaking the alcohol service laws set forth by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
What is a First-Party Dram Shop Case?
A first party dram shop case (as opposed to a third-party dram shop case) is simply defined as a case where the person injured or killed was themselves a patron who was improperly served alcohol. This injured patron (or their surviving family members in the case of a fatal accident) can sue the bar or restaurant they drank at prior to the accident. In drunken driving first party cases, the drunken driver is the one who is injured in the crash.
Who Can File?
The injured intoxicated person can file the claim against the bar that over-served them. Likewise, the in the case of a fatal accident, the estate of the car accident victim can sue for survival damages and wrongful death damages.
The difficulty lies investigating the validity of the establishment over-serving the victim. You have to assess each situation on a case by case basis. The intoxicated person has to have been “noticeably drunk” and the bar or restaurant continued to serve them. This extrinsic inquiry requires eye witness statements and in some extreme cases an expert witness to examine a toxicology report in order to reach a conclusion that the victim could in no way, shape or form not appeared drunk.
Who is Liable?
A dram shop claim can only be brought against a licensed provider of alcohol. Therefore, you can only bring such a claim against a bar, restaurant, or liquor store.< p>
When is a Provider of Alcohol Liable?
A valid first-party dram shop cause of action exists ONLY when the licensed provider of alcohol serves an “obviously intoxicated” patron. In other words, the bar is not liable for serving alcohol, nor for serving alcohol that makes someone intoxicated. The bar assumes liability only when they provide subsequent drinks to a recipient that is already outwardly manifesting signs of intoxication, the implication being that if the recipient is obviously drunk, they are therefore obviously dangerous and should be “cut off.”
Put Our Experience to Work In Your Liquor Liability Case
Dram shop cases are challenging and complex legal matters. Furthermore, first party dram shop cases are even more challenging due to recent changes in the way that juries are asked to factor the liability of the intoxicated person into the equation as opposed to simply analyzing the bar’s liability exclusively. Due to these complexities, most law firms don’t take these cases and fewer still understand how to win them. We do.
If you have been injured due to being over-served or if your loved one was injured or killed due to the same, you need the help of an experienced attorney who can take your case to the next level. Whether the next level is into the mediation room or the court room, the experienced attorneys at Grossman Law Offices are skilled professionals that will do everything possible to establish the necessary elements of your case and usurp the burden of proof to ensure you reach the settlement your case deserves.
We are not just attorneys but advocates who strongly believe that holding bars accountable for breaking the rules of alcohol service is the only way to effectively reduce drunken driving on Austin’s streets. Call Grossman Law Offices today for a free, confidential consultation at 1-855-257-1111.