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Understanding Texas’ social host liability law

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Personal Injury

We’ve discussed Texas’ “dram shop” law, which addresses when a bar or restaurant can be held liable for a drunk driving crash caused by one of its customers. But what if the driver who caused the crash became intoxicated at a party held in someone’s home or other private property? 

That’s where “social host liability” may apply. These laws vary by state. Texas law limits the liability of hosts to the actions of minors. 

When does the law apply?

A victim of a drunk driving crash (or other event that caused injury or damage) may be able to bring a civil action against an adult (21 or older) who served alcohol to a minor, as long as the adult isn’t the minor’s parent, legal guardian or spouse.

The law applies under the following circumstances:

  • The adult either “knowingly” served the minor alcohol or “allowed the minor to be served or provided any of the alcoholic beverages.”
  • The minor was ”obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others” when provided with the alcohol.
  • The minor’s intoxication “was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.

It can sometimes be a challenge to determine how much an adult knew or even should have known. There’s a difference between someone allowing their teen and their guests access to a full assortment of alcoholic beverages and a teen sneaking a bottle of vodka into a party and sharing it surreptitiously with the other guests.

Dram shop and social host cases can sometimes be difficult to prove. However, you have a right to try to hold those accountable for your injuries and other damages – including, of course, the drunk driver themselves. Having experienced legal guidance can help you seek justice and compensation.