Every year, hundreds of Texas residents sustain a serious personal injury due to an intoxicated driver who causes a car wreck or an intoxicated person who assaults an innocent victim. Injured persons have legal rights against the drunk person. However, in many cases, there is also an opportunity to seek recovery against a bar or an alcohol provider responsible for over-serving the intoxicated person. Having the ability to hold a company liable for over-service of alcohol that leads to personal injury and damages is a good and fair thing. The sale of alcohol can be a very profitable business. However, recovering money against an alcohol provider is challenging. Thus, it is critical that your personal injury lawyer has experience in this area. The Bonneau Law Firm has this experience and will put it to work for you.

The “Dram Shop Act”

Tex. Alco. Bev. Code 202 (b), the “Texas Dram Shop Act,” imposes liability on alcoholic beverage providers for damages caused by individuals who were served despite being obviously intoxicated. 

The Supreme Court of Texas has developed a provision in the Dram Shop Act called the “Safe Harbor” provision. Under the Safe Harbor defense, the actions of an employee in over-serving a patron shall not be attributable to the employer under certain conditions.

How the Safe Harbor Defense Protects Employers

  • The employer requires its employees to attend training classes through the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) certification program.
  • The employee in question actually attended the training classes.
  • The provider did not directly or indirectly encourage the employee to violate the law.

So, in other words, if an injured person files a lawsuit against a bar for personal injury or death caused by the bar’s over-service of alcohol, the injured person or their family must prove that the other person was obviously intoxicated at the time they were served. To overcome the Safe Harbor defense, the injured person must then prove the bar indirectly or directly encouraged its employees to violate the law. If the injured person is not able to develop proof of encouragement, the court will likely throw out the case, and the injured person will get nothing. That is why an injured person must hire a personal injury lawyer in TX with vast experience in suing alcoholic beverage providers.

Our Law Firm Understands the Dram Shop Act

The Bonneau Law Firm has experienced personal injury lawyers that know the Texas Dram Shop Act backward and forward, including the current legislative attempt to fix part of the Act. Without a superior understanding of the law and experience handling these types of cases, a lawyer may quickly find that they are in over their head. To prevail in a Dram Shop Act case, it is critical that the lawyer develops a great deal of evidence (much more than an average negligence case). In order to develop the required evidence, it is obviously important that the lawyer knows exactly what is needed. 

Further, it is frequently necessary for the lawyer to hire a toxicologist and an alcohol policy and procedure expert. We only work with the best experts and have a great deal of experience in forming a case and gaining an early understanding of exactly what types of experts are needed.