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What are Texas Dram Shop Laws?

If a drunk driver causes an accident that injures you, you can sue the driver for personal injury. If you die in the accident, your surviving relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The problem that frequently arises is that the minimum accident insurance coverage in Texas is only $30,000 per victim—and this presumes that the driver is even insured, which all too often is not the case. Moreover, personal injury and wrongful death claims frequently exceed the minimum coverage amounts. The purpose of dram shop laws is to hold a third party (typically a bar or nightclub) liable for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Texas dram shop laws help ensure that the victim receives full compensation. The idea behind dram shop liability is that the third-party defendant contributed to the accident by serving alcohol to the intoxicated driver. More than 40 states have enacted dram shop laws.   What is a “Dram Shop”? A “dram shop” is a bar, a club, a tavern, or any other commercial establishment that sells alcohol and allows customers to consume alcohol on the premises. A liquor store is not a dram shop because it does not serve alcohol to be consumed on-premises.  Texas Dram Shop Laws Not all dram shop laws are the same, and Texas dram shop laws carry certain distinctive features. To win a dram shop claim in Texas, you must prove that: The defendant is licensed or permitted to serve alcohol or actually sells alcohol; The defendant sold, provided, or served an alcoholic beverage to a customer at a dram shop; The customer was already obviously intoxicated at the time the dram shop served them alcohol;  The customer proceeded to cause a vehicle accident; and The accident resulted in damages (injury, death, or property damage). The basis for liability is the assumption that the accident would not have occurred if the dram shop had refused to serve alcohol to the customer.   Social Host Liability in Texas Suppose you throw a party at your home. You provide alcohol, and one of your guests causes an accident on their way home. Can the victim of the accident sue you? Well, the dram shop laws of some states do allow victims to assert liability against social hosts. This is not the case in Texas, however. A victim cannot sue you for providing alcohol as a social host, except if the alcohol was given to a minor. Social Host Liability Exception for Minors The victim can sue a social host for providing alcohol to a minor if: The minor was under the age of 18 (even though 21 is the legal drinking age in Texas), The provider was at least 21 years old, The alcohol provider was not the minor’s parent or custodian, and The provider knowingly served the minor or knowingly allowed someone else to serve the minor. Except for the case of serving alcohol to a minor, a social host is not liable under the Texas dram shop law—even for providing alcohol to an obviously intoxicated guest.  Take Decisive Action The best time to begin preparing your claim is as soon as possible. Doing the groundwork for your claim promptly prevents it from growing stale with time. The Zimmerman Law Firm P.C. has been fighting for the rights of central Texans since 1962, and our attorneys enjoy the benefit of over 85 years of combined experience. Allow us to put our knowledge of Texas dram shop laws to work for you. Contact us 24/7 by calling 254-333-8869 or by contacting us online.

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Red flags that help reveal a dangerous day care

Dropping your kids off at day care takes a leap of faith. You are putting your children’s lives in someone else’s hands. Up until this moment, you may have always been in control. Now you are ceding that control to someone else. If you feel anxious, do not just assume you have the same nerves that all parents do and that you need to get over it. Picking the right day care center is critical. If you feel especially nervous, ask yourself why. What is triggering that fear? Is this actually a dangerous day care where your child could suffer an injury? It may be. Here are a few red flags of which you should be aware: Not enough staff The center must have enough staff to actually look after all of the children. If you walk in and one overwhelmed worker is trying to care for all of the kids, the risks of accidents and/or neglect are greater. For instance, one woman dropped her daughter off at a day care center and came back to get her, but the staff did not know where the girl was. For a brief moment, the mother panicked. While they did find the girl taking a nap under a blanket, that type of negligence is very frightening. Children do not have to disappear for long to get seriously injured. No license Even if the staff seems friendly and caring, if the center does not have the proper licensing, avoid it. You have no way of knowing just how safe that location is. Likewise, the staff knows they should have a license. If they are willing to operate without one, what other rules are they willing to break? How could that put your child in danger? Obvious safety issues While some safety issues are a bit harder for a parent to uncover, some things are quite obvious. Is there a smoke detector in every room? If not, or if there are dead batteries in some of the detectors, go somewhere else. When issues are this obvious, odds are that other hidden issues exist as well. You also want to make sure that any dangerous chemicals and cleaning supplies are stored properly out of the kids’ reach, that the day care has a disaster plan for escape if there is a fire or a similar issue and that the facility has a secure system in place to connect children with their parents at pick-up. After an injury Looking for reg flags is a good place to begin, but children can still get hurt at a day care that appears safe. When this happens, you must know all of the legal options you have to seek financial compensation.

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