It’s almost impossible to pick up a copy of the Reporter-Telegram without reading a story documenting the latest Midland-Odessa car accident tragedy.
This should not be surprising since, according to publicly-available data taken from the Texas Department of Public Safety web site, in 2017 Midland/Midland County experienced:
a total of 4,441 reported accidents
38 individual fatality vehicle crashes that led to 50 deaths
113 “serious” vehicle crashes that resulted in 133 “incapacitating” injuries
6.19 DWI deaths per 100,000 (2016 data)
929 DUI/DWI arrests (2016 data)
On this page the Midland automobile accident personal injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm explains some of the legal avenues that may be available to car accident victims and how an experienced Midland car accident lawyer can help those injured in such accidents secure the full amount of compensation due them following an accident.
Causes of Automobile Accidents in Midland
In Midland, as is the case in the rest of Texas, most automobile accidents are due to carelessness on the part of the driver responsible for causing the accident.
Some of the more commonly-identified causes of accidents are, in no particular order:
driving too fast for weather and/or road conditions
”distracted driving,” better known as ”texting”
failure to have the vehicle under control at all times
Note that each of the above could, at the investigating officer’s discretion, result in a criminal citation. The only exception is in cases of driving while impaired / under the influence, which should always lead to prosecution under Texas law. In fact, when DWI/DUI is a factor in an accident, it is sometimes possible to name the establishment where alcohol was purchased as a co-defendant in a lawsuit as explained below.
Texas Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws
In colonial America and in pre-independence Texas, what we now call a “tavern” or a “bar” was then known as a “dram shop” after the measure by which alcohol was served. In modern times, a dram shop usually refers to any business where alcohol is sold by the drink or in premeasured packages.
Under Texas law, vendors who sell alcohol may be held liable for an injury caused by an intoxicated customer if:
the alcohol was furnished or sold to a minor under age 18, or
when the alcohol was sold, the purchaser was obviously intoxicated to the point that he or she should have been seen as posing a danger to their own safety and/or the safety of others, and
the purchaser’s intoxication was a foreseeable cause of the injuries suffered
A second part of the Alcoholic Beverage Code establishes the potential liability of those who serve free alcoholic beverages during private parties or similar social functions. In law, this is called “social host liability.”
In order for an adult social host to be held liable under Chapter 2 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, two conditions must be met:
the adult was not the parent, guardian, or spouse of the minor in question, and
the adult knowingly served alcoholic beverages to the minor in question or allowed that minor to drink on any property owned by the adult, regardless of who served the alcohol
While including an alcohol retailer or a social host as a defendant in an automobile accident injury case involving an alcohol-impaired driver maybe a good idea, the Texas legislature included a section in the Alcoholic Beverage Code that gives a retailer an “out” should they find themselves named in a personal injury lawsuit.
Under this “safe harbor” provision of state law, an alcohol retailer can claim immunity from a dram shop lawsuit if:
The retailer requires its employees to attend an Alcoholic Beverage Commission-approved seller training program; and
The employee can show proof that he or she attended such a training program; and
The employer did not directly or indirectly encourage its employees to violate the law [emphasis added]
Unfortunately dram shop lawsuits are notoriously difficult to prove unless #3, above, can be documented. That being said, being difficult to prove is not the same as impossible to prove! Whether or not to name a retailer who served alcohol to a driver that later caused an accident should be discussed at length with your Midland-Odessa personal injury lawyer.
You Need a Midland Personal Injury Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in an automobile accident, you have the legal right to demand compensation from the party responsible for your injuries. While there are some cases where you may be tempted to deal directly with the other driver’s insurance company, we strongly recommend that you should protect your legal rights by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
When you contact the Midland and Houston car accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm to arrange a free, no obligation, review of your potential automobile accident personal injury case, your first consultation with our firm is exactly that: free of any charges and it does not mean that you must hire our firm as your legal counsel. If you should later decide to have us represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you. Our car and truck accident attorneys in Midland-Odessa are prepared to fight for your rights to recover damages.