Dram Shop Liability for Drunk Driving Accident
Background: Our client, a 49-year-old maintenance technician, was riding his motorcycle home from work when he was struck by an intoxicated driver on the freeway. The impact caused him to be ejected from his motorcycle and skid across several lanes of traffic. Our client suffered catastrophic injuries that required multiple emergency surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg above the knee. The drunk driver had minimal insurance coverage, and our client’s medical bills and lost wages exceeded that coverage.
Investigation: We immediately began investigating the facts related to the intoxicated driver’s alcohol consumption before the crash. We discovered that the drunk driver had visited two separate restaurants/bars prior to the collision and was undoubtedly overserved at both establishments. We collected evidence through multiple depositions of bartenders, waitresses, and managers to establish the extent of the drunk driver’s intoxication and the establishments’ knowledge of his state.
Legal Strategy: We pursued the case under Texas Dram Shop laws, which hold establishments liable for negligently serving alcohol to intoxicated persons who subsequently cause injuries or damage. We filed lawsuits against both establishments that served the drunk driver and alleged that they were negligent in continuing to serve him even though he was visibly intoxicated.
Challenges: The biggest challenge was proving that the establishments were responsible for the drunk driver’s intoxication, and that they were aware of the dangers posed by continuing to serve him alcohol. The establishments denied liability, and it took years of aggressive litigation to secure a settlement.
Outcome: After years of denying liability, both establishments finally tendered funds that would assist in allowing our client to move forward with his life. We secured a $3,300,000 settlement that covered our client’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This settlement will provide for our client’s future care and ensure that he can continue to live his life as fully as possible, despite his injuries.
Conclusion: This case illustrates the importance of holding establishments accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals, particularly in cases of drunk driving accidents that result in catastrophic injuries. Dram shop liability laws are a vital tool in promoting public safety and ensuring that those who serve alcohol do so responsibly.