Dram Shop Actions in Texas
June 20, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Dram Shop Actions in Texas

Article provided by MICHAEL R. DE LA PAZ, A Professional Corporation. Please visit our Web site at http://www.delapazlaw.com.

Every year many people are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers. When there are traumatic and debilitating injuries after a drunk driving accident, the injured person may need to look beyond the negligent drunk driver for additional sources of monetary recovery. When a person faces severe injuries and a painful, slow recovery, he or she needs to pursue compensation from all possible sources.

Therefore, it may be wise to look for other responsible parties. Some drunk driving accidents are caused by individuals who are visibly intoxicated but are sold or served at a bar, restaurant or hotel anyway. These intoxicated persons then get behind the wheel and end up causing an accident that kills or severely injures another. This is where the Texas Dram Shop Act comes into play. In these cases, the injured party or the family of the deceased may be able to file an action under Texas' Dram Shop Act against the bar, restaurant or other establishment that sold or served the intoxicated individual alcohol.

What Is a Dram Shop?

Dram shop is a term used to describe a place where alcohol is served and sold, such as a bar, tavern or restaurant. Taverns and bars used to serve patrons alcohol in measurements called drams. A dram equaled one-eighth of a fluid ounce.

Texas Dram Shop Act

The Texas legislature first enacted the Dram Shop Act in 1987. Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, there is a cause of action for providing, selling or serving an alcoholic beverage to an individual who was "obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others" at the time he was provided with, sold or served alcohol, and his intoxication was a proximate cause of the damages suffered. Tex. Alco. Bev. Code ยง 2.02.

Texas Supreme Court Case

In May 2007, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in F.F.P. Operating Partners v. Duenez, which drastically changed the way responsibility is apportioned in third-party dram shop cases. In that case, the Duenez family was injured by a drunk driver who, after drinking all day, purchased a 12-pack of beer from a convenience store and then drove across the centerline and hit the Duenezes' car head on. The family sued the drunk driver, the store and the store's clerk.

The F.F.P. Operating Partners decision made it more difficult to hold bars, restaurants or other providers of alcohol responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver. The case held that the dram shop's liability is determined by looking at the percentage of responsibility for the accident that the jury assigns to the dram shop. The dram shop is not automatically responsible for all of the injured party's damages. Only if the jury finds that the dram shop is more than 51% at fault will it also be responsible for the drunk driver's share of liability.

Conclusion

Intoxicated drivers who get behind the wheel after having too much to drink are dangerous. Drunk driving accidents often result in severe injuries and death. To obtain adequate compensation for serious injuries caused by a drunk driver, it may be possible to bring a dram shop action against the business that sold or served the intoxicated person. An experienced lawyer can help injured people look beyond the obvious sources of recovery so that they do not get shortchanged.

Article provided by MICHAEL R. DE LA PAZ, A Professional Corporation. Please visit our Web site at http://www.delapazlaw.com.

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