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Friday, October 9, 2015

Texarcana Bar Sued Following DUI Fatality

Can a bar or bartender face liability for serving an intoxicated patron who then causes an auto accident or alcohol-related injury?

Under Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, the provision, service or sale of alcoholic beverages may be a statutory cause of action for an individual injured or killed as a result of such over-service. However, the statute contains several requirements in order for a bartender or establishment to face liability, including:

  • At the time the sale of alcohol occurred, the patron was obviously intoxicated “to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others”
  • The intoxication of the individual was a proximate cause of the resulting accident or injury.

To explain these principles more clearly, a bartender or bar can face liability only if the patron is obviously drunk at the time of the service – a fact-based determination that will require the input and deliberation of a jury based on eye witness testimony and/or surveillance footage. From there, the plaintiff must also prove that the bartender’s over-service of the patron was the proximate cause of the resulting injury, meaning there were no other intervening forces at work that could have caused the accident.

On September 14, 2015, the surviving family members of an individual killed as a result of a DUI-related auto accident launched a wrongful death lawsuit against Texarcana’s Hopkins Ice House, the bar’s owners, and the individual having caused the accident – who is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for assault and manslaughter.

According to the complaint, the intoxicated driver was served 20 beers and 5 mixed drinks on September 28, 2013 into September 29, 2013. He then got behind the wheel of his Jeep and ran a red light, colliding with an oncoming vehicle. Two of the passengers in that vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene, and a third suffered permanent, irreversible brain damage. Immediately following the crash, the driver’s blood alcohol content was .301 – nearly four times the legal limit of 0.08.

If you were recently injured in an automobile accident and would like to discuss your options under Texas law with an attorney experienced in this area of law, please contact the Sawicki Law Firm today: 888-468-8844.

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