Alcohol-related incidents resulting in harm or injury are unfortunately common occurrences. When these incidents involve a person who has consumed alcohol at a licensed establishment, such as a bar or restaurant, and who subsequently causes harm, it may be possible for victims to file a legal claim known as a dram shop claim.

Dram shop claims fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. However, there are some unique aspects to these claims. That is why the Houston dram shop lawyers at Kherkher Garcia have compiled this guide. Below, we provide an overview of the process of filing a dram shop claim, outlining its components, requirements, and steps involved in seeking legal recourse.

Understanding the Basics of Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws are statutes that hold establishments liable for the actions of individuals to whom they serve alcohol. These laws impose liability on bars, restaurants, or other establishments if they served alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated or underage, and that person later caused harm to others.

There are a few important things to note about dram shop laws. Consider the following:

  • Proving Liability: To file a dram shop claim, it is crucial to establish that the establishment over served alcohol to the individual responsible for the incident. This often involves gathering evidence such as:
    • Witness testimonies
    • Surveillance footage
    • Receipts
    • Expert opinions
  • Proving Causation: It must be demonstrated that the over service of alcohol directly contributed to the individual’s intoxication, leading to the subsequent incident that caused harm or injury.
  • Notifying the Establishment: Upon identifying grounds for a dram shop claim, it is essential to notify the establishment in question. This step might involve sending a demand letter outlining the incident, the damages incurred, and the intention to pursue legal action.
  • Initiating Legal Action: Consulting with an experienced lawyer who specializes in dram shop claims is advisable. Legal professionals can assess the case’s viability, gather evidence, and navigate the legal process.

Filing a Dram Shop Claim

The most successful way to file a dram shop claim is with the help of a skilled dram shop lawyer. Having a lawyer on your side ensures that your rights are protected. Additionally, they will ensure that the lawsuit process is initiated effectively, and that you meet all requirements and deadlines. The process of filing a dram shop claim and moving through the lawsuit process may include the following steps:

  1. Filing the Lawsuit: Your lawyer will file the lawsuit against the establishment, outlining the specifics of the case and the damages you are pursuing.
  2. Discovery and Pre-Trial Proceedings: During this phase, both parties exchange information relevant to the case through a process called discovery. Depositions, requests for documents, and other information-gathering methods occur. This will occur up to the point of potential settlement negotiations or pre-trial motions.
  3. Settlement Negotiations: Often, personal injury claims, including dram shop claims, can be settled via negotiation between the parties subject to the lawsuit. Your lawyer will handle negotiations for you, and will ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
  4. Trial: If a settlement is not reached, the case proceeds to trial. Here, evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and the judge and/or jury deliberates on the verdict. If successful, compensation for damages may be awarded.
  5. Compensation and Resolution: In the event of a favorable verdict or settlement, compensation for damages may be awarded to the victim.

Filing a dram shop claim involves navigating complex legal procedures and establishing liability against an establishment for over serving alcohol. It is essential to gather substantial evidence, enlist legal counsel, and follow the appropriate steps to seek compensation.

How Can a Dram Shop Claim Lawyer Help Me?

A lawyer specializing in dram shop claims can be tremendous help in various ways when pursuing a claim. Lawyers offer crucial expertise, guidance, and support throughout the legal process. Even if you are somewhat familiar with personal injury law and lawsuits, dram shop claims almost always benefit from the expertise of a skilled lawyer. Here are several key aspects of how a lawyer can assist in a dram shop claim:

Legal Expertise and Evaluation

A lawyer with experience in dram shop liability will assess the specifics of your case. They will assess its strengths, weaknesses, and the likelihood of success. They can advise you on whether your claim is viable based on relevant laws and precedents.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

Lawyers have the resources and expertise to collect pertinent evidence that can substantiate the claim. They are adept at gathering witness statements, surveillance footage, receipts, expert testimony, and other documentation. Furthermore, lawyers can leverage the expertise of professionals such as toxicologists or medical experts to provide testimony supporting the claim regarding the level of intoxication and its relation to the incident.

Understanding of Dram Shop Laws

Lawyers specialized in dram shop liability possess a comprehensive understanding of relevant state laws governing alcohol service, liability standards, and limitations. They can navigate these legal complexities to build a robust case.

Communication and Negotiation

Your lawyer will communicate on your behalf with the establishment or its insurance representatives. They can present the case, negotiate potential settlements, and handle all legal correspondence. This can greatly relieve your stress and helps ensure protection of your rights.

Court Representation

Should the case proceed to trial, a lawyer will represent you in court. They will present arguments, examine witnesses, and advocate on your behalf to seek fair compensation for damages. Lawyers develop a litigation strategy tailored to your specific case. They will present a compelling argument and address counterarguments to strengthen your position during trial proceedings.

Maximizing Compensation

Lawyers will assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other relevant losses. They strive to secure maximum compensation for your losses.

Procedural Guidance

Lawyers are well-versed in legal procedures and deadlines. They ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time, preventing potential pitfalls due to procedural errors.

In essence, a lawyer specializing in dram shop claims brings invaluable legal knowledge, resources, and advocacy skills to navigate the complexities of such cases. Their expertise not only enhances the likelihood of a successful outcome but also ensures that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for damages resulting from alcohol-related incidents.

Get a Free Consultation with a Houston Dram Shop Lawyer

Understanding the nuances of dram shop laws and adhering to the legal process can be pivotal in achieving a favorable outcome in such cases. At Kherkher Garcia, our personal injury lawyers have more than three decades of experience. We know what it takes to secure compensation and justice for victims of negligence. We understand the complex nature of dram shop claims, and have the experience and resources that our clients count on for success.

If you have questions about a potential dram shop claim, contact us to get answers and learn how we can help you. For a free consultation with one of our Houston dram shop lawyers, call us at 713-333-1030, or fill out our online contact form.

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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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