Drunk driving continues to be an affliction for those on Texas roadways

The dangers of drunk driving cannot be overstated. Indeed, according to the most recent statistics available from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 16,882 people were injured in alcohol-impaired car accidents on Texas roadways in 2012.

Sadly, however, injury totals alone fail to give an accurate picture of just how dangerous drunk driving can be, especially given the likelihood of death in such situations. In fact, in 2012, an alarming 1,099 individuals were killed in Texas drunk driving accidents - an increase of 25 fatalities when compared to the year before. When broken down even further, these numbers indicate that 1,118 individuals were injured and 49 killed in drunk driving accidents in San Antonio alone during 2012.

One of the most tragic aspects of drunk driving is that the intoxicated motorist not only puts himself or herself in danger by electing to get behind the wheel but every other person on the road as well. Victims of these careless drivers need to be aware that remedies may exist to help hold the responsible parties liable for their negligent actions.

Potential liability following a Texas drunk driving accident

First and foremost, the victim of a drunk driving accident may be able to pursue damages against the intoxicated driver that caused his or her injuries. Such damages may include medical expenses as well as lost wages. Additionally, in certain circumstances, Texas bars or taverns may be liable following drunk driving accidents.

For instance, under the Texas Dram Shop statute, a bar may be responsible for damages if one of its intoxicated patrons leaves the establishment and injures a third party. However, in order to recover under this law, the victim must prove that the bar provided or sold alcohol to a patron and:

  • At the time the alcohol was served, it was evident to the provider that the patron was "obviously intoxicated" to the point in which he or she was a danger to himself or herself and to others, and
  • The intoxication of the patron was the "proximate cause" of the injuries to the innocent third-party victim

Moreover, the same statute also dictates that an adult aged 21 years or older may be liable for damages proximately caused by an individual under the age of 18 if the adult knowingly served or provided alcohol to the minor or if the adult permitted the minor to drink on premises owned or rented by the adult. But, this form of liability only applies if the adult in question is not the parent, guardian or spouse of the minor.

Legal assistance may be needed

Ultimately, establishing liability following a drunk driving accident can be quite complex, particularly if a bar or tavern is involved. For example, there are many affirmative defenses that a defendant may attempt to argue - defenses that a victim may need to counter. Accordingly, if a drunk driver has injured you or a loved one, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney. An experienced attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and help explain your various rights and options, including possible theories of liability.