Can You Sue a Bar For Overserving In Texas?

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Car Accident, Dram Shop Law, DUI/DWI, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Vehicle Accident

In the bustling nightlife of Texas, where the spirit of revelry often intertwines with the responsibilities of alcohol service, the question of overserving at bars is a pertinent one. For many, a night out can quickly escalate from harmless enjoyment to dangerous overindulgence. In such cases, where patrons are overserved, resulting in accidents or injuries, the issue of legal accountability arises. Can individuals hold bars liable for overserving in Texas?

To better understand this aspect of the law, the car accident attorneys at Kherkher Garcia explore the intricate legal landscape surrounding alcohol service laws and liabilities in the Lone Star State.

Suing a Bar For Overserving In Texas

In Texas, the legal framework governing liabilities related to overserving alcohol falls under what are commonly known as “dram shop laws.” These laws hold establishments accountable for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol excessively. While dram shop laws aim to protect the public from the hazards of overconsumption, they also place responsibility on establishments to monitor and control alcohol service diligently.

The Burden of Proof

To successfully sue a bar for overserving in Texas, one must meet specific legal criteria. Establishing liability typically involves proving that the bar continued to serve alcohol to a patron who was already intoxicated or visibly impaired. This requires evidence such as eyewitness testimonies, surveillance footage, or expert opinions to demonstrate the patron’s state of intoxication at the time of service.

Comparative Negligence

Texas operates under a system of comparative negligence. This means that fault can be apportioned among multiple parties in an incident. In cases of overserving, the responsibility may not solely rest on the bar. If the patron contributed to their own intoxication by consuming alcohol elsewhere before arriving at the bar, their actions could diminish the bar’s liability.

Social Host Liability

While dram shop laws primarily apply to licensed establishments, Texas also recognizes social host liability in certain situations. Individuals hosting private events or gatherings may be held accountable for overserving alcohol to guests. This is particularly true if the host knowingly serves minors or visibly intoxicated individuals, leading to subsequent harm or accidents.

The Legal Landscape for Texas Bars

The legal landscape in Texas provides certain rights and responsibilities for establishments serving alcohol. It also provides certain defenses to protect establishments from frivolous claims. Consider the following:

Duty of Care and Training

To minimize the risk of overserving and potential legal liabilities, bars in Texas must prioritize staff training and implement robust policies for responsible alcohol service. This includes educating bartenders and servers on recognizing signs of intoxication, adhering to legal age restrictions, and intervening appropriately to prevent overconsumption.

Legal Defenses for Bars

Bars facing lawsuits for overserving often employ various legal defenses to mitigate liability. One common defense is disputing the patron’s level of intoxication at the time of service, arguing that they appeared sober or that any impairment was not evident. Bars may also contend that the patron’s actions, such as leaving the premises and engaging in risky behavior, were beyond their control and not a direct result of overservice.

Legal Precedents and Case Studies

Several notable legal cases in Texas have shaped the landscape of liability for overserving at bars. These cases often hinge on the establishment’s adherence to responsible alcohol service practices and the extent of their duty of care towards patrons. Precedents set by court rulings play a significant role in defining the boundaries of liability and establishing standards for alcohol service establishments to follow.

Legislative Considerations

The legal landscape surrounding overserving in Texas is subject to ongoing legislative scrutiny and amendments. Lawmakers periodically review existing statutes and regulations to address emerging concerns related to alcohol service and public safety. Changes in legislation may impact the liability of bars and the legal recourse available to individuals affected by overservice.

Examples of Accidents Caused by Overserving in Texas

Overserving-related accidents encompass a range of incidents where overserving alcohol at licensed establishments contributes to harm or damages. Here are some examples:

  • Auto Accidents: A patron becomes heavily intoxicated at a bar and then proceeds to drive. Due to impairment, they cause an auto accident resulting in injuries or fatalities to themselves or others. If it can be demonstrated that the bar continued to serve the patron despite their visible intoxication, the establishment may be held liable under dram shop laws.
  • Assaults and Altercations: In a scenario where a patron becomes excessively intoxicated at a bar and subsequently engages in a physical altercation, causing injury to another patron or bystander, the injured party may pursue legal action against the bar for overserving the aggressor.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents: A patron who is visibly intoxicated slips and falls on the premises of a bar, sustaining injuries. If it can be established that the patron’s intoxication contributed to the accident and that the bar negligently continued to serve alcohol to them despite their condition, the establishment may be held accountable for the resulting damages.
  • Alcohol Poisoning: In cases where a patron consumes an excessive amount of alcohol at a bar, leading to alcohol poisoning and subsequent health complications or death, the establishment may face legal repercussions if it can be shown that they continued to serve the patron despite signs of severe intoxication.

These examples illustrate the diverse range of incidents that can occur as a result of overserving alcohol at licensed establishments and the potential legal liabilities that bars may face under dram shop laws.

Should I Contact an Attorney if I Believe that Overservice of Alcohol Caused My Injuries?

If you believe that overservice of alcohol contributed to your injuries, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in such cases. Here are several reasons why contacting an attorney may be beneficial:

  • Legal Expertise: Personal injury attorneys have specialized knowledge and experience in handling cases involving injuries resulting from overservice of alcohol. They can assess the specifics of your situation and advise you on the legal options available to pursue compensation for your damages.
  • Investigation: An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your injuries. This may include gathering evidence such as eyewitness testimonies, surveillance footage, and expert opinions. This evidence helps to establish liability on the part of the establishment.
  • Legal Guidance: Navigating the legal process can be complex, especially when dealing with dram shop laws and liability issues. An attorney can provide you with valuable guidance and support throughout the legal proceedings. They can ensure that your rights are protected and that you understand your options every step of the way.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy: Attorneys are skilled negotiators who can engage with the establishment’s insurance company or legal representatives on your behalf to pursue a fair settlement for your injuries. If necessary, they can also advocate for you in court to seek maximum compensation.
  • Statute of Limitations: In Texas, there is a time limit, known as statutes of limitations, within which you must file a lawsuit. An attorney can ensure that you meet these deadlines and take timely action to protect your legal rights.

By consulting with an experienced attorney, you can gain a better understanding of the strength of your case and the potential outcomes.

Have Questions about Overserving in Texas?

If you have questions about overservice, dram shop laws, or your rights after an accident involving alcohol, Kherkher Garcia can help. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience helping victims injured in all manner of accidents, including car accidents and premises liability.

At Kherkher Garcia, our attorneys provide you with personalized legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances, helping you navigate the complexities of pursuing a claim for injuries resulting from overservice of alcohol. Get the answers you need by contacting us for a free consultation. Call us at 713-333-1030, or submit our online contact form to get started.

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Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

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