This is the most common. For the most part, if someone is in an alcohol related accident the person who caused the accident is going to be negligent. Negligence is probably 90% of the drunk driving causes of action. Within negligence, there is a variety of types. Sometimes, in drunk driving cases, we will have facts supporting negligence per se.
The drunk driver, if causing the accident, will be personally on the hook for negligence in most cases.
Respondeat Superior is another avenue of liability. Sometimes, a person can be in the course and scope of their employment when they are drunk and cause the accident. Through respondeat superior you may have an avenue to hold the employer liable for the employee's negligence. This is generally very hard to prove when involving drunk driving. However, certain marketers, as part of their job, are encouraged to take people out drinking.
Sometimes you can show that the person's conduct amounted to gross negligence, malice or fraud. In those cases, you can ask for punitive (exemplary damages) in Texas.
Dram Shop Liability (Holding the Server Liable)
In Texas, the elements to prove for Dram Shop Liability are: 1. The defendant sold alcohol to an adult recipient; 2. When the defendant provided the alcohol to the recipient, it was apparent to the defendant that the recipient was obviously intoxicated; and the recipient's intoxication proximately caused the plaintiffs injury.
Providing Alcohol to a Minor
The elements are: 1. The defendant was an adult at least 21 years of age who was not the minor's parent, guardian, spouse or custodian; 2. The defendant knowingly served or provided alcohol to a minor, or allowed an alcohol beverage to be served or provided to a minor on the defendant's premises; 3. The alcoholic beverage contributed to the minor's intoxication; and the minor's intoxication proximately caused the plaintiff's injury.
Other Theories to Investigate
Negligent hiring, training, supervision or retention.
Negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle.
Negligent control over an employee.
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