Jimmy Kimmel once said “You have a drinking problem, Austin.” It seems that since Uber and Lyft have left the city and the number of drunk driving accidents has increased, he may have been right. In the month of May alone, there were more than 359 DWI arrests.
It is no secret that bars and restaurants make a good chunk of their profits from alcohol sales. That said, Austin has the most bars per capita than any other location in the country, particularly downtown. Austin establishments go out of their way to upsell their customers through Happy Hour promotions and Texas-sized drinks. Unfortunately, these promotions encourage the over-consumption of alcohol and can lead to an accident.
Drunk drivers make decisions that can lead to car accidents resulting in serious consequences and should be held responsible when others get hurt. However, there may sometimes be other parties that can be held accountable for an accident.
What is Dram Shop Liability?
If you sustain injuries in an accident involving a customer who was over-served at a bar or restaurant, that establishment can be held responsible. This is called dram shop liability. A dram shop is any establishment that serves alcohol.
The trick is whether you can provide evidence showing the establishment deliberately served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer. Then, you must be able to show that your injury was directly caused by that customer’s intoxication.
Dram shop liability also has rules for alcohol sold to minors. If a minor purchases and consumes alcohol and then causes a car accident, the establishment that sold the alcohol can be held liable for any injuries that result.
While most states hold dram shops strictly liable, Texas is a little trickier. Unlike other states, Texas law only holds the dram shop responsible for the percentage of a liability when it comes to accidents. Specifically, Texas dram shops are only liable if you can prove they are at least 50 percent responsible for any accident, which can be difficult to do. This is why you should contact an attorney if you suspect whomever caused your injuries was over-served at a bar or restaurant.
Aaron Allison is an Austin personal injury lawyer who fights for those injured in drunk driving accidents.