My dad was killed by drunk driver...

by Andi
(Colorado)

My dad was killed Wednesday from head-on collision with a drunk driver in Texas. She died too. I'm so confused right now and there is so much information I have to try to find. How do I go about finding out if the drunk driver had come from an establishment that served her the alcohol? Can I pursue the establishment legally? Are they at fault? Is there anything else I can do about this?

Thank you for any information you can give. Please everyone, don't drink and drive!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My dad was killed by drunk driver...":

Andi (Colorado):

When discussing your legal right to pursue the commercial establishment which sold the alcohol to the intoxicated driver, you are referring to what is commonly known as a Dram Shop claim. The term "Dram shop" is an antiquated reference to a measurement of alcohol sold back in the late 19th Century.

Under dram shop laws the owner of a commercial establishment such as a bar, nightclub, hotel, etc. can be held legally liable for property damage and personal injuries, including death, sustained by third parties when it is shown the over-serving of alcohol to an already intoxicated, or apparently intoxicated patron was the direct and proximate cause of the crash and resulting injuries or death.

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For example:

Joe decided to meet his friends at Manny’s Nightclub in Dallas. While there, Joe consumed a substantial amount of alcohol. It was apparent to his friends and to the nightclub’s employees that Joe was intoxicated. Ignoring Joe’s obvious signs of intoxication, the bartender and server continued to serve Joe alcohol.

Shortly after, Joe decide to leave and drive home. On his way home, Joe fell asleep at the wheel and crashed head-on into another driver resulting in the death of the driver and serious injuries to Joe. At the hospital Joe’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was determined to be .16%. The legal limit for BAC in Texas is .08%. Joe was two times over the legal limit.

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Under this scenario the nightclub owner would be liable for the death of the driver.

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Code, Title 1, Chapter 2 can be summarized:

Commercial establishments which serve alcohol to patrons may be held liable for property damages and injuries caused by patrons when:

(1) ...it was apparent to the provider (bartender, server, etc.) the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others; and

(2) the intoxication was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.


Here's what you need to know about proximate cause.

A wrongful death claim should never be handled by a family member, friend, or colleague. Instead, all wrongful death claims should be handled by experienced personal injury attorneys.

Personal injury attorneys have the ability to obtain all the information legally required to prove the elements of wrongful death claim, including pretrial negotiations, discovery, depositions, interrogatories, and more. These are all actions unavailable to non-attorneys.

Seek out several injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. After visiting with several attorneys, you will have a better idea of the viability of your claim, the degree of difficulty in pursuing the claim, the approximate time it may take to resolve, and the approximate amount of compensation which may be ultimately derived.

For more information about dram shop laws in your state go here:
National Conference of State Legislatures

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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