If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you could be entitled to a full financial recovery for:
- Medical expenses including surgeries, prosthetic devices, medications, and hospital stays,
- Costs of future medical care and rehabilitation that might be needed,
- Lost wages,
- The value of an earnings capacity diminished by your disabilities,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Disfigurements, among other things.
When the driver has been wantonly and willfully negligent, you might also receive additional punitive or exemplary damages amounts. Our Houston DWI crash injury lawyers emphasize that these amounts are designed to punish the offending driver rather than to compensate you for your injuries and losses.
In Texas, it’s illegal to serve alcohol to a drunken patron. But as you might know, alcohol-serving establishments don’t always observe that law; encouraging further drinking adds to their profits, so long as no one gets hurt and they aren’t successfully sued for over-serving. In the event of a serious accident, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) might try to trace the bars that served the driver. The Alcoholic Beverage Code gives the TABC the authority to enforce Texas Dram Shop Laws against venues licensed to serve alcohol. This means that after an alcohol-related crash, if the TABC can discover which venue served the drunk driver the alcohol that led to your wreck, they can investigate the venue and its service of the drunk driver that injured you.
What is The Texas Dram Shop Act?
Under Texas law, a victim injured in a wreck caused by a drunk driver has the right to sue that driver for the value of the expenses and losses, including the projected value of future required medical care and therapies, that the victim suffered from the accident. But an irresponsible drunk driver, particularly a repeat offender, might very well lack either assets or insurance to pay your claim. So you must look to other negligent parties that contributed to the accident for the compensation to help you cope with the unexpected financial burdens that follow a serious accident and injuries.
The Texas Dram Shop Act aims to hold commercial establishments that serve alcohol accountable for injuries that result when they over-serve a patron. The more responsible alcohol-serving establishments diligently seek to avoid liability. These establishments create policies and procedures designed to ensure that they don’t serve alcohol to already-drunk patrons.
To obtain financial compensation for your personal injuries and losses from the alcohol-related wreck, you’ll need the aggressive and effective representation of an experienced Houston accident attorney. Your attorney could use the evidence from the TABC enforcement action in your claim to help show the negligence of the bar or club in over-serving the driver. Your attorney would file a civil liability claim on your behalf directly against the bar or club for the full value of your losses, and expenses incurred from the alcohol-related crash. Those damages would include any ongoing medical expenses you’ll have because of your injuries, and any lost wages or reduced earnings capacity due to the wreck.
What is “Safe Harbor” Defense?
Responsible alcohol-serving establishments generally develop and enforce detailed written procedures and policies relating to service of alcohol to patrons. These establishments also tend to provide extensive training to their employees regarding how to tell when a patron is drunk and when to stop serving. The reasons behind the detailed processes are often creation of a secure safe harbor for the establishment so that if one of their patrons becomes drunk and then causes an accident, the establishment and its employees can avoid liability from destruction caused on the road by those who might have been their patrons.
When bars and clubs carefully follow these policies and procedures, alcohol-serving establishments might find a Safe Harbor defense from destruction caused on the road by those who might have been their patrons. Bars and clubs are very good at using this defense to their advantage. You’ll need the aid of a skilled Houston accident attorney to find witnesses willing to testify to the contrary. The safe harbor defense requires in-depth knowledge and experience to successfully overturn.
So if you find seeking financial compensation from an irresponsible and barely solvent drunk driver to be a frustrating dead end, you might have a valid claim against the bar, restaurant, or club that served them alcohol prior to the accident. But solidly demonstrating the chain of responsibility, finding the hard evidence to back up your claim against them, and tearing down the establishment’s Safe Harbor claim can be daunting and difficult tasks.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Our Houston accident attorneys caution that when you bring a personal injury or wrongful death action against an establishment due to an accident injury caused by a drunk driver, the alcohol-serving venue might well try and hide behind the “Safe Harbor Defense.” The venue might claim that it has strict guidelines for alcoholic beverage service and that it fully complied with these procedures and with all TABC and Texas dram shop rules in serving the patron that caused your accident. The venue might state that the patron who caused your accident did not become drunk in that establishment or leave the venue drunk.
When the establishment and its employees all stick to a Safe Harbor Defense, it can be difficult to prove that they’re lying. You need an experienced Houston accident attorney to locate witnesses who were in the establishment at the same time as your drunken driver, and who can tell the truth about the matter. Carefully crafted and conducted depositions by the accident attorneys at Denena & Points of the establishment’s employees and managers could elicit contradictory statements, verbal slip ups, and admissions of liability to highlight the establishment’s deception.
Our in-depth knowledge and extensive experience with injury accident claims caused by drunken driving allows us to locate the evidence and present the legal arguments you need to succeed in your legal claim. Contact us toll free or online for a free initial legal consultation/case evaluation regarding your accident.
Contact us for your FREE Case Consultation
The Houston DWI crash injury lawyers at Denena Points, PC offer a completely free and confidential initial legal consultation to discuss your accident and evaluate your eligibility for a full financial recovery. You have no obligation to hire an attorney. And we never charge attorney’s fees unless we successfully make a financial recovery for you. Reach us at 713-807-9500 or through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with our Texas Board Certified personal injury lawyers. Put our more than 12 years of experience successfully making fair financial recoveries for our clients to work for your benefit!