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Can a Bar/Nightclub Be Responsible for Alcohol Poisoning?

Posted in liability on November 27, 2019

Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition in which too much alcohol replaces the oxygen in the blood. It can occur from drinking too much alcohol too quickly. Alcohol poisoning can affect your body temperature, heart rate and breathing. In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can cause coma and death. In Texas, if a bartender or alcohol vendor overserves an obviously intoxicated person too much alcohol, the state’s dram shop law could hold the business responsible for related incidents and injuries, including alcohol poisoning. To learn more, get help from a Dallas dram shop liability attorney.

Is Dram Shop Only Related to Car Accidents?

Texas’ dram shop law, Alcohol Beverage Code Chapter 2, states that an alcohol provider could be liable for damages if it was apparent at the time of providing the alcoholic beverage that the recipient was obviously intoxicated to the point of posing a risk to him/herself or others, and if the intoxication of the recipient was the proximate cause of damages suffered. Although the most common use of the dram shop law is to prove alcohol vendor liability for a drunk driving accident, the statute can apply to many other alcohol-related accidents as well. The law does not specifically name auto accidents as the only incident with recovery available. It simply states that the vendor could be liable for damages suffered.

Does Dram Shop Cover Alcohol Poisoning, Slip and Fall or Wrongful Death?

Dram shop laws exist because those in positions to serve alcohol could effectively prevent drunk driving accidents, assaults and other alcohol-related incidents by cutting off the recipient. Holding alcohol vendors responsible for how much they serve could potentially help prevent overserving patrons, as well as the accidents they cause. The dram shop law in Texas can apply to any damages an intoxicated person causes, including assaulting someone else or causing a drunk driving accident. The intoxicated person, however, cannot use the dram shop law to hold the alcohol vendor liable for his or her own damages.
Although the dram shop law may not apply, a drunken individual could have a case based on negligence against the bar, restaurant or nightclub guilty of overserving him or her. Every establishment has a duty of care, or legal obligation, to reasonably look out for the safety of its patrons. This obligation can come with many specific duties, including a duty not to overserve obviously intoxicated patrons. If an employee of the establishment negligently overserves a person, and that person suffers injuries such as alcohol poisoning, a slip and fall accident or wrongful death, the victim or his or her family may have grounds for a negligence claim.

A negligence claim against a bar or nightclub for overserving must prove through a preponderance of evidence that the establishment owed the victim a duty of care, breached this duty by overserving the victim, and that this breach is what caused the victim’s damages. The victim may also have a claim based on premises liability if a dangerous property element caused the accident, such as beer-soaked floors or inadequate security. A claim can demand compensation for damages such as physical injuries, medical bills, property damage, emotional distress, lost wages and legal fees.

Can I File a Dram Shop Claim if Alcohol Was Served to a Minor?

Texas’ dram shop law also applies to the serving of alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 18) in some situations. If the alcohol vendor was an adult 21 years of age or older and was not the intoxicated individual’s parent, guardian, spouse or someone keeping custody of the minor, the adult could be liable for the minor’s intoxication. The adult must have knowingly furnished the minor with alcohol or allowed someone else to serve the minor alcohol on a premises the adult owned. If someone served your underage child alcohol and he or she suffered alcohol poisoning, you may have a case against the bartender, establishment, individual or social host. Speak to an injury attorney about a potential lawsuit right away.