Dram shop laws hold establishments accountable for serving alcohol to individuals who later cause injury or harm to themselves or others. These laws vary significantly among states, with some having stringent regulations while others have limited or no statutes regarding dram shops.

Here in Texas, dram shop laws are quite strict, and it is important for anyone injured due to intoxication to understand their rights and how these laws work. At Kherkher Garcia, our personal injury lawyers have a great deal of experience helping clients understand their rights in complex areas of law, such as dram shop cases.

Below, we provide information about dram shop laws in the United States, and then delve into dram shop laws in Texas. Finally, we provide information on how we can help you if you are victim of intoxication-related injuries.

Do all States Have Dram Shop Laws?

Not all states have dram shop laws in place. The laws that do exist vary widely in their scope, application, and limitations, reflecting the diverse legal landscape across the country.

To begin with, it is crucial to understand the fundamental premise of dram shop laws. These laws impose liability on establishments, such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, for injuries or damages caused by individuals who have been served alcohol irresponsibly or excessively on their premises.

Approximately 43 states have some form of dram shop law, including Texas. These laws generally fall into two categories: first-party liability and third-party liability:

  • First-Party Liability: These laws allow individuals who were served alcohol to take legal action against the establishment for their own injuries or damages.
  • Third-Party Liability: These laws enable individuals who were harmed by an intoxicated person to hold the establishment accountable for serving that person alcohol.

States that have dram shop laws often have variations in the specifics of these laws. For instance, some states have limitations on the types of establishments that can be held liable or the circumstances under which liability can be established. These variations can include specific requirements related to the level of intoxication, the knowledge of the establishment about the individual’s condition, or the type of damages that can be claimed.

However, there are a few states that do not have dram shop laws at all or have very limited statutes related to them. These states include Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Virginia. In these states, the responsibility for injuries caused by an intoxicated individual often falls solely on the person who consumed alcohol.

Exceptions and Alternatives to Dram Shop Laws

Even in states without dram shop laws, there might be exceptions or other legal doctrines that could hold an establishment accountable under certain circumstances. For example, some states might have social host liability laws that can hold individuals responsible for providing alcohol to guests who subsequently cause harm.

The absence or limitations of dram shop laws in some states can lead to debates about the balance between personal responsibility and the accountability of establishments serving alcohol. Critics of dram shop laws argue that individuals should bear the responsibility for their actions after consuming alcohol, while proponents emphasize the role of establishments in preventing over-service and subsequent harm.

Dram Shop Laws in Texas

In Texas, dram shop laws are outlined in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC), specifically in Chapter 2, Subchapter F. Under these laws, a person injured by an intoxicated individual may seek damages from the establishment that provided alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person, knowing that they would soon be driving a motor vehicle.

Key aspects of dram shop liability in Texas include:

Establishment Liability

Texas law allows for civil liability against licensed alcohol-selling establishments, such as bars, restaurants, or liquor stores, under specific circumstances. If an establishment serves alcohol to a person who is “obviously intoxicated” to the extent that they present a clear danger to themselves or others, and if it is reasonably apparent that the individual will soon be operating a motor vehicle, the establishment may be held liable for damages caused by that intoxicated person.

Proving Liability

To establish liability under Texas dram shop laws, the plaintiff must prove that the establishment served alcohol to the intoxicated person, that the person was visibly intoxicated at the time of service, and that it was foreseeable that the person would be driving a vehicle soon after consuming alcohol.

Limits on Liability

It is essential to note that Texas law limits the liability of establishments in certain situations. For instance, if an intoxicated individual causes injury or harm to themselves after consuming alcohol, the establishment generally cannot be held liable for those self-inflicted injuries.

Statute of Limitations

In Texas, there is a statute of limitations for bringing a dram shop liability claim. This is, essentially, a deadline for taking legal action. Typically, this time frame is two years from the date of the incident that caused the injury.

Comparative Negligence

Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule in dram shop cases. If the plaintiff is found partially responsible for the incident, their recoverable damages may be reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible, they may not recover damages.


Notably, certain exceptions exist in Texas law. Social hosts, for instance, generally aren’t subject to dram shop liability unless they serve alcohol to a minor or someone who is visibly intoxicated and subsequently causes harm.

Texas dram shop laws aim to promote responsible alcohol service by holding establishments accountable for over-serving patrons who then cause harm due to intoxication. Understanding these laws is crucial for both businesses that sell alcohol and individuals affected by the actions of intoxicated persons, emphasizing the importance of responsible alcohol service and consumption in the state of Texas.

How a Dram Shop Lawyer Can Help Victims

Lawyers can play a crucial role in assisting clients with dram shop cases by providing legal expertise, guidance, and representation throughout the legal process. Here are several ways that the personal injury lawyers at Kherkher Garcia help our clients with dram shop cases:

Legal Assessment and Consultation

Our lawyers have experience handling dram shop cases. We know how to assess the circumstances of the incident and provide an initial consultation to determine the viability of the case. We will thoroughly evaluate the facts, evidence, and applicable laws to advise you on the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

Our team will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence supporting your claim. This may involve obtaining surveillance footage, eyewitness testimonies, police reports, medical records, and other relevant documentation to establish the extent of your injuries and the role of the establishment in serving alcohol to the intoxicated individual.

Navigating Legal Procedures

Our lawyers will provide step-by-step guidance as we navigate the complex legal procedures involved in filing a dram shop lawsuit. We ensure that all necessary paperwork is properly completed, filed within the statute of limitations, and presented according to court requirements.

Building a Strong Case

The lawyers at Kherkher Garcia have extensive experience handling personal injury matters. We use our expertise to build a compelling case on your behalf. We analyze the evidence collected, consult with experts if needed (such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals), and develop a legal strategy to strengthen your claim.

Negotiation and Settlement

Often, personal injury matters are resolved via negotiation. Our lawyers aim to achieve a fair settlement through negotiations with the establishment’s legal representatives or insurance companies. We advocate for your best interests and work to secure satisfactory compensation without going to trial, if possible.

Representation in Court

If a settlement cannot be reached, our lawyers will represent you in court. We will present the case before a judge and/or jury, arguing the legal grounds for holding the establishment liable for the damages caused by the intoxicated individual.

Understanding of State-Specific Laws

Lawyers specializing in dram shop cases have a deep understanding of state-specific laws governing alcohol-related liabilities. At Kherkher Garcia, our lawyers stay updated with any changes in legislation and precedents, ensuring that our dram shop cases are built upon the most current legal framework.

Support and Guidance

Throughout the entire process, our lawyers provide you with support. We offer guidance, answer questions, and keep you informed about the progress of your case. Our team aims to alleviate stress and uncertainty by offering clarity and support.

Contact a Skilled Texas Dram Shop Lawyer

At Kherkher Garcia, we have vast experience in personal injury claims, including dram shop cases. Our lawyers leverage their experience to assist clients in navigating the legal complexities involved in holding establishments accountable for damages caused by intoxicated individuals.

Our goal is to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, whether through settlement negotiations or courtroom representation. When negligence causes you harm, we believe in holding those responsible accountable. Let us help you pursue justice and the compensation that you deserve.

Get a free consultation with a skilled dram shop lawyer by calling us at 713-333-1030, or by completing our online contact form. We are just a call or click away!

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Jesus Garcia

Jesus Garcia

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Jesus Garcia. Jesus has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 20 years. He has won $150 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force of nature in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work or on the road. Abogado Jesus Garcia is bilingual and passionate about being the voice in the courtroom for the spanish speaking community here in Houston, across the state of Texas, and throughout the Nation.

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