What Is the Texas Dram Shop Law?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When one person injures another, the injured party may seek compensation for his or her injuries and associated expenses by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person who injured him or her. In some situations, a third-party may share some of the blame. This third-party may not have directly contributed to the injury-causing incident, but his or her involvement enabled the defendant (the person being sued) to commit the action.

One of the most prevalent examples of this situation would be a bar or other establishment that serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated patron. In Texas, the laws meant to prevent such incidents are known as dram shop laws.

How Do Dram Shop Claims Work?

Any establishment or “social host” that provides alcohol to guests may be held responsible for any injuries that those guests cause to others after they leave the premises. Additionally, liquor stores and other alcohol vendors can be held responsible for damages in some cases, including any instance of alcohol being sold or given to anyone under the age of 18 or any instance of providing alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.

A “social host” describes any individual who knowingly supplies alcohol to individuals under the age of 18. This does not apply to parents – a parent cannot be held accountable as a social host if his or her child injures another person due to intoxication. Under Texas laws, social hosts include any adult who is not a parent, legal guardian, or spouse of the minor under 18. Social host laws also apply to individuals who knowingly serve alcohol to minors under 18 or permit alcohol consumption by minors under 18 on his or her property.

Damages

As with any other personal injury case, a personal injury lawsuit involving dram shop laws can provide the injured party with various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical expenses. Compensation for medical costs can include emergency response services and care, hospital bills, the costs of any necessary subsequent treatments (such as physical therapy or reconstructive surgeries), prescription costs, and any other medical expenses resulting from the incident.
  • Pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s attorney will consult with medical professionals who will act as expert witnesses. Expert witnesses have no personal involvement in a case, but instead, provide their expertise to the court to help a jury determine how an injury affected the plaintiff. Although it sounds difficult to quantify physical pain and emotional trauma with a dollar figure, expert witness testimony allows a court to determine a reasonable amount of compensation.
  • Lost income. If an injury prevents the plaintiff from returning to work for an extended period, he or she can claim lost wages as compensation. If an incident results in a permanent disability that prevents the plaintiff from resuming his or her job permanently, he or she can sue for the income that he or she would have reasonably expected to earn in the future.
  • Property damage. This includes damage to a vehicle or destroyed personal belongings.

Cases involving dram shop laws often involve extensive investigation, such as interviewing patrons and staff of the establishment who saw the intoxicated individual, security footage from the establishment, and consultations with expert witnesses. An attorney is crucial for successfully navigating any personal injury case and any case involving Texas dram shop laws – which will likely be complex.

The individual directly responsible for the incident and the establishment that served alcohol to the individual can both be held accountable for the incident. For example, if you were struck by a drunk driver and injured, you can sue the driver for compensation for the damages listed above. Additionally, if that driver just left a bar that continued to serve him or her alcohol after he or she was visibly drunk, the bar can also be held accountable for contributing to the incident.

Posted by admin at 5:27 pm

What Are the Right-of-Way Laws in Texas?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The rules of the road enable drivers to anticipate the actions of others. Quite often, drivers must yield to other drivers or pedestrians before moving. The phrase “right of way” describes how you determine when to yield to another driver or pedestrian or when that other driver or pedestrian must yield to you. Right-of-way laws exist to ensure public safety on the road and to provide the smoothest flow of traffic possible.

Right-of-way laws are meant to keep drivers and pedestrians safe, so it’s important for Texans to know the state’s right-of-way laws. Understanding these laws can help prevent traffic accidents, injuries, and even fatalities, and it can help drivers avoid traffic tickets for illegal maneuvers.

Right-of-Way at Intersections

There are specific laws concerning the right-of-way at intersections in Texas:

  • When driving on an unpaved road, if you come to an intersection with a paved road, you must yield the right-of-way to traffic driving on the paved road.
  • At uncontrolled intersections, you must yield the right-of-way to any traffic already in the intersection and any traffic to the right of your vehicle.
  • When making a left-hand turn at an intersection, you must yield to pedestrians crossing the street as well as traffic traveling in the opposite lane. This also applies to making a right-hand turn. You must yield to through traffic entering the lane you wish to turn into as well as any pedestrians crossing in your path.
  • Whenever you approach an intersection at a main road from any private road, alley, or driveway, the right-of-way must be yielded to traffic driving on the main road.
  • Trains always have the right-of-way at railroad crossings. Always stop at the indicated spot. Trains are typically much wider than the tracks, and if you stop too close to the tracks, you risk being struck by a moving train. Such collisions are extremely deadly.

Emergency Vehicles

Emergency vehicles are equipped with lights and sirens to let other drivers know that they are nearby and responding to an emergency. It’s vital for other drivers to quickly ascertain the location of the emergency vehicle and pull over so personnel can reach the emergency.

In Texas, motorists must always give the right-of-way to any fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles. Pull over to the right as soon as possible, unless you’re within an intersection at the time. In this case, continue through the intersection and pull over to the right side of the road as soon as you can.

Pedestrians

Every Texas driver must always give pedestrians the right-of-way, even if they aren’t crossing legally at the time. Pedestrians have no protection from oncoming traffic. As such, it’s vital for drivers to exercise caution around pedestrians and areas with heavy foot traffic. Not every intersection will have a “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal. Regardless of whether such a signal is present, a pedestrian has the right-of-way during a green light. Additionally, pedestrians have the legal right-of-way even if the light changes to red as they cross.

A good rule of thumb is to simply always yield to pedestrians, even if they’re violating the law or crossing the road illegally.

Right-of-Way Violation Penalties

As with most driving infractions, drivers found in violation of right-of-way laws can expect to receive points on their licenses. A failure to yield violation will typically result in two points and a $50 to $200 fine. A failure to yield violation that leads to an injury will result in three points and up to $2,000 in fines. Serious injuries may incur an even larger fine up to $4,000. Any right-of-way infractions committed by Texan drivers outside the state will still result in these penalties.

Posted by admin at 11:54 pm

What Are the Motorcycle Laws Every Texan Should Know?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Motorcycles are more than just a mode of transportation – they are a hobby and pastime for many Texans. Although motorcycles are a fun way to get around and enjoy pleasant weather on the road, it’s vital for Texans to understand state motorcycle laws. Knowing these laws not only keeps riders safer on the road, but also helps ensure riders are compliant and needn’t worry about fines or legal problems due to parking or mechanical issues.

Motorcycles must have the same basic mechanical features as other motor vehicles – brakes, reflectors, head and taillights, and the other typical parts of a vehicle. Just like passenger cars, motorcycles must be registered and riders must obtain the proper motorcycle license. Some states place restrictions on exhaust and muffler decibels for sound concerns, but Texas has no such laws.

Parking

Just like passenger cars, motorcycle riders may only park their bikes in disabled parking spaces if they have the proper authorization and affix a disabled license plate or windshield placard to the bike. Additionally, a disabled license plate or windshield placard may not be given or lent to other motorists.

Some motorcycle riders believe that because their bikes are smaller than typical passenger cars, they may park in the striped areas near handicap parking spaces or other similar “Do Not Stop” areas of pavement. This is against the law. Motorcycles may not be parked on sidewalks, either.

Helmet Laws

In Texas, helmets are required for any rider under the age of 21. Riders over the age of 21 may forego wearing a helmet if they obtain the proper certification or insurance coverage. Such riders must either complete a Department of Motor Vehicles-approved Motorcycle Operating Training Course or obtain at least $10,000 in medical insurance. As with automobile insurance, these riders must keep a copy of their medical insurance card on their person while riding or stowed in the bike. However, Texas police are not permitted to stop or detain any rider solely to determine whether the rider has completed a training course or possesses medical insurance coverage.

Although the decision to wear a helmet is at the rider’s discretion if over the age of 21, helmets have been proven to save lives. Consider wearing a Department of Transportation-approved helmet while riding.

Passengers

In Texas, no one under the age of five years may ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. Any passengers over the age of five and under 21 years old must wear a helmet. Passengers over the age of 21 may opt to ride without a helmet if the driver has the met the proper requirements. Additionally, the motorcycle must have a permanent passenger seat.

Lane Splitting

Many motorcyclists engage in a practice known as “lane splitting,” which is when a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by traversing between lanes of traffic. Some decry this practice as dangerous, and it can be in certain situations – specifically, when riders are splitting a lane with a larger vehicle or at high speeds. Texas does not prohibit lane splitting, but if you choose to split a lane with another motorcyclist, do so safely and at a reasonable speed.

Motorcycles are fantastic fun, but they are also inherently more dangerous than other motor vehicles because riders are almost entirely exposed. Passenger cars shield their drivers much more effectively than motorcycles. Therefore, if you ride a motorcycle in Texas, exercise more caution on the road than you might when driving a regular motor vehicle. Following the rules of the road and keeping these Texas laws in mind will reduce your risk of serious injury.

Posted by admin at 11:50 pm