This is the first post in a series of articles in which we will discuss common issues that arise in liquor liability, or “dram shop” cases, in Fort Worth, Texas. Like many states, Texas holds establishments such as bars and restaurants responsible for DUI accidents resulting from their serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals under some circumstances. We have previously written about Fort Worth area dram shop liability in general. The purpose of this series is to take a closer look at certain specific issues that victims and their families may face during such a case. Another goal is to provide information to those pursuing dram shop liability cases when selecting counsel to represent their interests. If you need assistance, contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights.
The series will focus on the following key topics:
- Dealing with pre-trial motions in a dram shop liability case
- Calculating damages in dram shop liability cases
- How the theory of comparative fault may impact a dram shop case
- The importance of hiring a firm with adequate resources to handle a dram shop case
When a person is injured in a DUI accident, the obvious target for litigation is the driver. It is possible, in some instances, to look beyond the driver and also hold the liquor provider partially liable for damages. As we have previously discussed, establishing liability for the bar, restaurant, or other provider of alcohol may not be easy. It is important to understand how such a theory may impact one’s legal action. First, once a lawsuit is initiated and long before the trial begins, it is not uncommon for defense counsel to seek dismissal of the charges against their clients or request that evidence be excluded from the case. Such requests are made to the court through pre-trial motions. Experienced law firms will expect such motions and be prepared to respond appropriately in opposition to these requests. Second, as in other catastrophic personal injury cases, it can be difficult to ascertain the plaintiff’s damages. Doing so can involve the use of multiple experts and may take a significant period of time depending upon the nature of the victim’s injuries. Third, many people are hesitant to file a lawsuit if they believe they were partially at fault for the incident. In Texas, however, so long as the victim was less than 51% responsible for the accident, they may still recover a portion of their damages from the defendants. This theory, known as comparative fault, can be a complicated element of such cases and difficult for jurors to understand. Working with an attorney with trial experience can help ensure that the facts are effectively communicated to the jury during litigation. Finally, it is in the plaintiff’s best interest to engage a law firm with adequate financial resources, personnel, and with an on-site investigator to represent their interests. Legal representation for dram shop cases is typically based on a contingency arrangement. It is important, therefore, to retain a firm who can bear the costs of expensive litigation and dedicate the appropriate staff to handle your case.
After a serious accident, legal action may seem overwhelming to victims and their families. We recommend contacting legal counsel as soon as possible to conduct a thorough investigation, preserve key evidence, and handle insurance adjuster calls on your behalf. In addition, we suggest locating a firm with multiple attorneys who are Board Certified in Personal Injury Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This advice is true whether the accident occurred in Fort Worth, Dallas or other areas of Texas.