Several months ago, as reported by the Dallas Express, the widow of a Euless police detective filed suit against the drunk driver who ran a red light in November of 2021, crashing into the detective’s sedan, killing him and critically injuring her and her two sons. The suit also seeks to hold the bartender who served the driver liable for overserving, and the taco shop where the drinks were sold is being sued, too.
The suit asserts that despite the patron’s obvious intoxication, the bartender continued to serve him some seven double vodka Red Bull drinks throughout the morning and into the afternoon the day of the accident.
Third-party liability for an alcohol-related accident
The dram shop law in Texas establishes that a dram shop, that is, a commercial establishment such as a liquor store, bar or restaurant, can be held responsible for selling alcohol to a customer who then causes harm, be it property damage, personal injury or death.
The reasoning for this is straightforward. The issue is criminal negligence. Texas law requires that these establishments exercise a standard level of care, which includes checking IDs and not serving minors and not overserving patrons.
A visibly intoxicated customer must be cut off. Failing to meet this standard exposes the bartender and possibly the establishment to liability.
A dram shop claim must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. The damages can include:
- Medical bills and ongoing medical care
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity if disability has been incurred
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
The dram shop law went onto the books in Texas in 1987 to help reduce drunk driving incidents by shoring up collective responsibility for safe driving. Although in the lone star state there’s a high standard to be bet—it must be proven the patron was visibly intoxicated when served—there are times it’s all too clear.
Excesses have consequences, as in this case. But for the negligence in the taco shop on that fateful day, that terrible collision might not have happened.