This is the next post in our series on the handling of Fort Worth, Texas liquor liability (“Dram shop”) cases. Our last article discussed the need for experts in cases involving DUI accident victims. It is important to understand that experts will likely be needed to offer testimony in regards to whether a bar or restaurant followed proper industry standards when ensuring that they were not selling to visibly intoxicated persons. When selecting a personal injury attorney, it is important that you retain a firm that has the resources necessary to hire such experts. In this article we will discuss another important topic – what to expect at trial in such cases. If you or a loved one have been injured then it is vital that you contact a lawyer immediately.
We have previously discussed what to expect during a trial for a slip and fall injury. A similar process will apply in liquor liability cases. A jury will be selected after the attorneys for each side have conducted voir dire of the potential jurors. The Plaintiff will then present their witnesses and evidence. The defendants, of which there may be more than one, will then present their case. The Plaintiff will follow with “rebuttal” evidence. Rebuttal is not a time to make new arguments; it may only be used to directly refute claims which were made by the defense. Each side will then make closing arguments and the jury will then issue a verdict. It is important to understand that trial is a complicated process and that the rules of evidence will be strictly enforced.
The most important issue in a Dram shop case will be demonstrating that the establishment’s employees knowingly served a person who was visibly drunk and that they also expected the person to be driving. It will be important that your counsel introduce testimony of witnesses who can speak to the surrounding circumstances. It will also be important to introduce evidence of the drunk driver’s bar tab as an excessive tab can show that the establishment’s staff should have reasonably believed that the person was intoxicated. Finally, it will likely be important to introduce surveillance footage (if any exists) to show whether the staff attempted to discuss how the drunk driver would get home.
Again, Texas’ rules of evidence are complicated. Even if your lawyer has accumulated information relevant to the aforementioned items, it will be necessary for them to conduct trial in a way which allows for the admission of such information. It is important that you retain counsel who is experienced in presenting cases to a jury. This is why we suggest that you retain an attorney who is board certified in personal injury law. This is true regardless of whether you were injured in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in the state of Texas.