Amarillo Car Accident Lawyer
112 SW 8th Avenue, Suite 301
Amarillo, Texas 75219
It is well known that driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while
impaired (DWI) are significant factors in many Texas motor vehicle accidents.
Although the impaired driver is obviously liable for any damages incurred
in an accident in which he or she was involved, is there any liability
attached to a business that sold alcohol to the driver?
Most states have either “case” or “common” law
that has held the business, such as a bar or package store, that sells
alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person to be at least partially liable
for the subsequent actions of that person. Other states have enacted specific
laws that hold businesses and their employees liable for any consequences
of such sales. These laws are usually referred to as “Dram Shop”
law, where “Dram Shop” is a reference to the 19th century
term for a bar or tavern.
Texas has a Dram Shop law included in its Alcohol Beverage Code. The Dram
Shop law specifically states that an establishment where alcoholic beverages
are sold have a legal responsibility not to sell such beverages to a patron
who is obviously intoxicated. This ban on sales to intoxicated individuals
has also been extended to include package sales by liquor stores and by
gas stations/convenience stores. If any business subject to the Dram Shop
law sells to an obviously intoxicated individual, that business can be
held liable for damages if that person later causes an accident.
The Dram Shop law does provide for a defense to liability claims against
a business establishment. This defense is known as the “Trained
Server Safe Harbor Defense” and can be used to have a liability
claim against a business dismissed if it can be shown that:
- A business has a policy that all alcohol-serving employees must attend
an Alcoholic Beverage Control-approved training course as a condition
- An employee has attended such a course and was therefore a “trained
- The business has not encouraged, directly or indirectly, any employee to
ignore the law against serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual.
If a business can prove that it has complied with each requirement of the
Trained Server Safe Harbor provision, it can ask to be dismissed “with
prejudice” from a lawsuit. When a lawsuit is dismissed “with
prejudice” the lawsuit cannot be refiled at a later time using the
same alleged justifications.
Lawsuits and Dram Shops
Including a business that sold to an intoxicated customer in a lawsuit
can substantially increase the amount of a settlement because a business
will practically always carry a larger amount of liability insurance than
the impaired driver. As an example, the minimum automobile insurance required
by Texas law is the “30/60/25” policy, where “30/60”
means “$30,000 of liability for each injured party to a maximum
of $60,000 per accident” and “25” means “$25,000
of liability for property damage. Since many drivers carry only the minimum
amount of insurance, if they carry insurance at all, the maximum amount
that can be recovered from an impaired driver after an accident would
On the other hand most taverns and convenience stores carry higher amounts
of liability insurance and most “chain stores” carry supplemental
liability coverage specifically for alcohol sales. Thus, including the
seller of alcohol in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit could
substantially increase the amount of a negotiated settlement or the damages
awarded by a jury.
Lawsuits Against Impaired Drivers and Retail Alcohol Sellers
In order for an intoxicated driver and the seller of alcohol lawsuit to
succeed, it must be proven that the establishment sold alcohol to an obviously
intoxicated person. This will require a personal injury lawyer to examine
evidence such as recordings made by security cameras, statements from
witnesses, accident reconstructions made by specialists, as well as police
and hospital reports.
Anyone in the Amarillo / Panhandle area who has been injured in an accident
caused by an impaired driver is encouraged to contact the Doan Law Firm
– Amarillo at (806) 590-0000 to arrange a consultation with our
Amarillo auto accident lawyer to review your legal options.
At the Doan Law Firm your first consultation with our Amarillo auto accident
lawyer is always free and does not obligate you to hire our firm. Should
you decide that we should represent your case, we will agree to pay all
expenses necessary for us to win your Amarillo auto accident lawsuit in
return for an agreed-upon percentage of your final settlement.
If you or a family member were injured by an impaired driver, let the Doan
Law Firm’s help you win the settlement that you are legally entitled
to under Texas law.
The Doan Law Firm:
112 SW 8th Ave, Suite 301
Amarillo, Texas 79101