Who Should You Sue if Injured By a Drunk Driver?
In most cases, an injured victim of a car accident would seek an opportunity to sue anyone whose negligence caused the accident. Most car accidents are the result of the negligence of one of the drivers involved and if this can be proved, then this driver will be the one that issued. A number of states, Texas included, have additional laws that make other parties liable for compensation if they have knowingly provided alcohol to an obviously already intoxicated person.
In certain circumstances, then, if you have been injured by an intoxicated driver and you can prove that the accident was caused by their negligent driving, you may be able to recover damages from a bar, restaurant or even a social host, if liability for their poor judgment can be established. In most cases, this may prove difficult attempting to do this all by yourself and you would have a much better chance of securing compensation through a personal injury claim if you engage an experienced McAllen drunk driving accident attorney.
Texas Liquor Liability Laws
There are two separate but related laws that affect who is considered liable if an intoxicated driver causes an accident and there is an injury as a result of the accident.
These laws are the
- Dram shop law; and the
- Social host law.
Note that these laws have an effect on both criminal and civil law. In other words, if someone is found to be guilty of supplying alcohol to an already intoxicated person and this person goes on to drive and cause an injury, then that person (or their employer) may be charged with a criminal offense as well as be liable for damages if sued by the injured accident victim.
The dram shop law applies to commercial establishments like bars, restaurants, and hotels where alcoholic drinks are for sale. If alcohol is sold to someone who is obviously drunk and that person goes on to cause an injury, then the person or business who sold the alcohol may be charged with a misdemeanor offense as well as be liable for any civil claim against them.
The social host law applies to anyone who offers or provides alcoholic drinks to an intoxicated minor who goes on to drive and injure someone in an accident. Note that the exception here is that this law does not apply to either parent of the minor, only to another person. Like the dram shop law, this person may be charged with a misdemeanor offense with similar penalties as the dram shop law, as well as render the ‘host’ liable to civil lawsuits if the injured accident victim chooses to pursue legal action.
Texas Proportionate Responsibility Act
One complication of the dram shop law is that if a commercial bar or restaurant worker issued for a personal injury claim, then the defendant may elect to assign part of the responsibility to the drunk driver. That would mean that the liability would then be shared between the driver and the person who served alcohol to the driver. This would be similar to a situation in which someone was injured through the proven negligence of two or more other parties. For example, say you were hit by a truck driver who was speeding at the time of the collision. Subsequent investigation showed that the driver was employed without any background checks and had had previous experience of negligent driving. Both the truck company and the driver may both be jointly liable. In these cases of shared liability, you would need an attorney to prepare a convincing case to determine how much can be demanded from each at-fault party.
Contact a McAllen Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Effective Representation
If you, or a loved one, have been injured by a drunk driver, whatever the circumstances, Because of the complications of Texas alcohol liability laws and the proportionate responsibility act, it can be difficult to sue a negligent drunk driver without professional legal help. You can contact our skilled McAllen personal injury lawyers at 210-646-9100.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501