Drunk Driver Dram Shop Crash Case

A young man was over served at one of the largest sports bar franchises in America. The servers had been trained to upsell patrons to larger volumes of alcohol. In this case, the server did just that and the patron became intoxicated.


Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real world cases handled by Justin Hill in 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.


Justin Hill: We handle more drunk driving cases in San Antonio than probably any firm our size. Due to our relationship with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and history in handling cases involving drunk drivers, we get referred a lot of cases by their attorneys, and we get hired by a lot of people who are interviewing lawyers to help them in a drunk driving case.

Oftentimes, drunk driving cases have multiple angles. One involves the drunk themselves and the claim against them. Sometimes there are also claims against bars. Generally, Texas law states that bars can be held responsible if they overserve someone and that person goes out and hurts somebody else.

This reminds me of a case we handled in South Texas on behalf of a fireman. This fireman was off duty and was riding motorcycles with his friends. As he was passing a gas station, a young man pulled directly in front of him pulling into the gas station. The firefighter was unable to stop and ended up losing his leg.

In this case, we found out that this young man had been drinking at one of the largest sports bars in America. After we dug into it, we realized this was his 21st birthday. He won an experienced drinker. When he would order a beer, the server would encourage him for only $0.25 more to double the size of the beer. This young man did not understand his tolerance or how much alcohol he was consuming. On top of that, at some point he was so intoxicated he probably didn’t even know what he was doing. Now, this large corporation was happy to upsell these drinks because the profit margin is so good and they knew they’d make more money.

This case proceeded all the way to trial. The defendants tried to argue that our client was at fault. They tried to argue that the young man who hit him wasn’t that drunk. It was only a little bit more than double the legal limit. In trial, they must have realized that they were probably wrong because while the jury was out, they made us a settlement offer that my client accepted.

What we learned in that case was multiple things, but one is that even these multinational bar and restaurant groups give their servers almost verbatim scripts on how to upsell alcohol. It’s not enough that they’re serving alcohol. They want you to drink more alcohol, and they want to make more money. That’s something we’ve learned that we’ve been able to use in other cases in the future.

Now this crashing the settlement, and the result was never going to bring our client his leg back, and he was never going to be the same. At the end of this, the important part was that he felt as though he was taken care of, and he felt that the result we got him was a good result. He also felt that justice had been served, and that that business was not going to do business the same anymore.

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