Sometimes when a drunk driver kills someone, not only can they be held responsible civilly and criminally, but the bar that over served the drunk can be held civilly liable as well. In this case, two people were killed and two were injured. Four families forever changed by a bar and person making bad choices.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis.
At Hill Law Firm, we handle personal injury cases, and we also handle wrongful death cases. Some people don’t understand the tie in and how they’re related to each other, but generally, the law is very similar, cases approved almost the same way.
A couple of years ago, I was reached out to by four different families, one of the most tragic cases I’ve ever worked on. Four young adults, fresh out of high school, were in town catching up. A couple of them worked at a local restaurant, and were getting off, and one of their buddies picked them up. They were going over to one of their houses to catch up after they had all been gone, some to college, some to the military. They were stopped at a light, when all of a sudden they were rear-ended by a drunk driver.
The two passengers in the back were killed. The two passengers in the front were seriously injured. Both of them suffered brain injuries, and both of them suffered bad soft tissue injuries. The woman who hit them didn’t even know where she was. She thought she was still on the highway. She thought she had her kids in the car. She told the police officer she hadn’t even been in a crash. She was so intoxicated, she didn’t even understand what was going on.
All of the families hired me to represent them. They all agreed to waive any conflicts they may have, and they wanted to make sure they were all together in this because it was a tough thing for all of them to do, and all of their kids had grown up together as great friends. We found out the lady that hit them had been drinking at a bar celebrating her 25th birthday. Her coworkers had taken her out and got her drunk. Then they sent her on her way. Even though she was clearly intoxicated, as the video from the bar showed, she kept getting served. Then her friends, her so-called friends, let her get in the car and drive. She lived in the Northeast side of San Antonio, but she was in the Southwest side when this crash occurred. She thought she was almost home, she told the cop. She had no recognition of where she was, what had happened, or how to even get to her house.
The families in this case hired me, my law firm, to handle the case for them. Once we were able to get our hands on the video from the bar, and the TABC certifications from the bar, it was pretty clear that the bar was not following the rules. The video showed that this person was intoxicated, and the TAB certification showed that they had servers serving alcohol who were not certified. The bar tendered its policy limits pretty quickly thereafter. I stay in touch with some of these former clients. I stay in touch with two of the young men who were injured, one in the military. We also helped him apply for military benefits that he did not know existed.
Even though we represent clients for one case, we help them where we can because we got into this for the right reasons. Dram shop cases are difficult, and very few lawyers handle them anymore because they think they’re too difficult to prove. We’re one of the few law firms in Texas that have tried Dram shop cases to verdict. We continue to represent victims of drunk drivers against drunks, and it gets the bars that get them drunk.