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What Defenses Can a Texas Business Use to Defend Against a Dram Shop Lawsuit?

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Business Law

Dram shop liability is an ever-present threat for any business that serves alcohol. At its core, dram shop laws hold establishments like bars, restaurants, and liquor stores accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who then cause harm to themselves or others. A business accused of violating these laws can face intense legal complications threatening their reputation and future. Fortunately, a skilled attorney can employ defense strategies such as lack of notice or the safe harbor defense to shield your company from liability. 

If your business is facing legal issues related to dram shop liability, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced dram shop liability defense attorney without delay. At Fahl & Donaldson, our attorneys have extensive experience handling dram shop liability cases and securing favorable outcomes for our clients across the Lone Star State. We understand the high stakes surrounding these cases and will fight aggressively for a favorable outcome on your behalf. 

Solid Dram Shop Liability Defense Strategies

At Fahl & Donaldson, we tailor our approach to every case, personalizing our defense strategies to fit your unique needs. However, many dram shop liability defenses fall under similar categories, including the following:

Lack of Notice

Often, bartenders are unaware that a patron is intoxicated. Fortunately, bars and restaurants are not expected to read minds. If a person who later caused a drunk driving accident successfully hid their level of intoxication, our attorneys may argue that there was no visible reason to stop serving the patron in question. 

Safe Harbor

Texas’ dram shop laws include a safe harbor provision to protect bars, restaurants, and other alcohol-serving establishments from liability in the event of a drunk driving accident. Under this provision, your business may be exempt from liability if your attorney can prove that you trained your employees to spot signs of intoxication and to stop serving impaired patrons. In short, you can assert your employees acted against their training when overserving the patron.

Intervening Causes

Even if the patron was overserved, your attorney may be able to present evidence that their intoxication was not the cause of the accident or the victim’s injuries. For example, if a drunk driver suffers a heart attack or other unrelated, unforeseeable emergency, your business cannot be held liable for any damages.

Contributory Negligence

Texas follows a contributory negligence doctrine, meaning that all parties involved in an accident are assigned a percentage of fault and are responsible for the same percentage of total damages. In Texas, victims must be less than 51% at fault for their accident to successfully file a claim for damages. If they were knowingly engaging in risky behavior, such as refusing to wear a seatbelt or getting into a car with an obviously intoxicated driver, your attorney may be able to lessen your level of financial responsibility significantly. 

Speak With a Seasoned Dram Shop Liability Attorney at Fahl & Donaldson

If your business is facing a dram shop liability dispute, it’s vital to remember that the right legal support is your strongest asset. At Fahl & Donaldson, we offer top-notch legal representation and comprehensive support. Our team is dedicated to crafting tailored defense strategies while understanding the unique challenges that your business faces in these situations. We are committed to guiding you through every step of Texas’ complex legal process with professionalism and ease, saving you precious time and resources.

Schedule a free consultation with a skilled attorney today by calling (346) 241-7355 or completing our contact form.