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Man Sues Driver, Bars After Drunk Driver Kills Wife, Baby

Glass of dark liquor on a table next to a car key.

A Houston man has filed a $40 million lawsuit against a suspected drunk driver and two bars believed to have contributed to the driver’s intoxicated state.

Details of the Texas Drunk Driving Lawsuit

According to ABC 7, Bryan Joseph lost his wife, Shayla, and 2-month-old son, Braylan, in February in a suspected drunk driving accident. Bryan is now pursuing civil litigation in connection with the fatal crash.

The lawsuit names the suspected drunk driver, Veronica Rivas, 20, and two bars, Crescent City and Dempsey’s, which the lawsuit claims allowed Rivas to leave their establishments drunk.

Joseph said his wife, Shayla, who was on maternity leave, was likely out getting him breakfast when the crash occurred.

About the Texas Dram Shop Act

The law states that dram shops can be liable for injuries or death to a third party caused by a drunk driver that was overserved in the establishment. The vast majority of states have a dram shop law or act, though the specific verbiage of each one can vary.

The law in Texas states that a bar can be held liable if they knew or should have known that the drunk driver was obviously intoxicated at their establishment yet continued to serve them more alcoholic drinks to the extent that he or she presented a clear danger to himself and others. Injured parties seeking compensation for their damages have to prove that the dram shop served the drunk driver after obvious intoxication and that the driver’s inebriation was the proximate cause of the auto wreck.

Dram shops can protect themselves from liability in these cases if employees attend seller training programs through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). If the employees in fact attended these programs, the employer has proof of such attendance, and the employer did not encourage employees to violate the law, the dram shop in question can potentially avoid a lawsuit.

It is important to remember that dram shop liability does not mean the drunk driver is off the hook from liability. In many cases, the overserving dram shop and the drunk driver share liability in the accident, and of course, the driver can still be punished criminally.

Dram shop laws can protect the community by keeping bars and restaurants in check when serving alcohol to patrons. The goal of these establishments is to make money, and serving alcohol helps achieve this goal. These laws prevent alcohol-serving establishments from putting profits above the safety of its patrons and community.

Contact an Experienced Drunk Driving Crash Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, call Thomas J. Henry immediately. Car crashes involving intoxicated drivers can be complex — it is important to hire a law firm with years of experience handling cases like yours. Our drunk driving attorneys will take immediate action on your case and investigate whether the driver was illegally overserved alcohol prior to the wreck. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call and provide you with a free legal consultation. Contact us today for your free case review.

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