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What is the Safe Harbor Defense that a business can raise in a claim for compensation under Texas Dram Shop Law?

Under Texas Dram Shop law, a business, such as a bar, restaurant, or liquor store, can be liable for compensating a victim of a drunk driving crash for his injuries. The victim must be able to show that the drunk driver was so obviously intoxicated that he was a danger to himself or others when he was sold the alcohol. In addition, this must have been a proximate cause of the victim’s injuries. A minor under 18 years old who was illegally served alcohol may also have a claim for the injuries that he suffered. However, the business is not without defenses under the Dram Shop Law.

What Is the Safe Harbor Defense?

Unlike other states’ dram shop laws, Texas’ law does not hold a business strictly liable for compensating a victim once it is shown that the drunk driver was served alcohol. Liability must be proven, and the business is only liable for its proportionate share of fault in causing the person’s injuries. In addition, the business can raise the Safe Harbor Defense—also known as the Trained Server Defense—to avoid responsibility to the victim. Under this defense, the bar or restaurant would need to show the following:

  • The business requires its employees to attend a Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) approved class to become certified by the Commission.
  • The business follows through by making sure its employees take the class and are certified.
  • The business cannot directly or indirectly encourage its employees to ignore TABC rules.

Just because a business claims that its employees are certified does not mean that it is true. In some cases, the business does not adequately train employees under the TABC certification program. In other cases, managers or other employees may help a fellow employee cheat on the exit exam.

The experienced legal team at the Hart Law Firm have helped many victims of drunk driving crashes obtain justice and receive the compensation that they deserve. To learn how we can help you if you were hurt in a drunk driving crash, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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