Is over-serving alcohol considered personal injury?

The short answer is ‘yes.’ Over-serving alcohol is serving alcohol to an individual who is clearly already intoxicated or who a person should reasonably believe is intoxicated. There are laws against this type of behavior intended to protect people who might not be in a good state of mind when they are out drinking. It creates a burden of responsibility on restaurant and bar owners to ensure that no one is drinking too much. In this article, I will explore a tragic instance of over-serving and why it is considered personal injury.

Very recently, three young men were involved in a car accident after drinking at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, they all perished and the restaurant owner who served them alcohol is being charged with over-serving. The problem with charges like these is that there is no clear bright line that indicates when someone is intoxicated. Some people have higher alcohol tolerances than others, regardless of their size, sex or age. Moreover, some people are better at hiding intoxication than others. My argument isn’t that you can’t know when someone has clearly had too much; with some people, you can tell. My argument is that you can’t always know when someone has had too much; with some people, you just cannot tell. Everyone has a personal responsibility to ensure that they are being healthy and making good choices. The restaurant owner did not ask the young men to enter his restaurant, nor did he force the men to drink, nor did he insist that they drive their own vehicle under the influence. Each of these things the men decided autonomously. Nevertheless, likely due to the tragic outcome of the night, the restaurant owner is liable to be charged with personal injury.

Why does over-serving qualify as a personal injury?

Over-serving alcohol usually isn’t considered personal injury in itself. The only time the charge is actually incited is when over-serving leads to some type of physical accident or injury. In this way, over-serving alcohol can arguably be considered as a partial or whole contributor to a personal injury and can demand legal ramifications. The laws that encompass these instances are referred to as “dram shop” or “liquor liability” laws. Under them, one can effectively sue for any damages incurred from an alcohol-related personal injury. Clawson and Staubes explain the requirements that must be met for a case to be made for personal injury. First, it must be proved that the establishment actually served the alcohol. Next, it must be proved that alcohol continued to be served to the patron even when they were visibly intoxicated or if the bartender had a reasonable belief to think that they were intoxicated based on the number and types of drinks they were serving. Alcohol establishments found guilty of charges of over-serving alcohol can be subject to fines and revocation of liquor licenses.

If you believe that you were over-served alcohol and that contributed to your personal injury, you should contact a lawyer.

Alcohol and Truck Driving: A Deadly Combination

Drivers of smaller vehicles sharing roads with 18-wheelers would never think that the driver of the truck beside or in front of them is sleepy or alcohol-impaired, unless there are obvious signs that would show these. Hundreds of data, however, show that many truck drivers were indeed either falling asleep, asleep, alcohol-impaired prior to an accident. As a matter of fact, with regard to use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that it actually is the second major reason behind truck accidents.

Drivers operating a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) exceeding 33000 lb, like 18-wheelers, also called big-rigs or semi-trailers, observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, and pick-ups, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. This means that anyone who will be caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Big-rig drivers, however, have more to worry about than just having a 0.04% BAC level because those who will be found with a 0.02% BAC level can also be suspended from driving for about 24 hours, while those who will register a 0.08%, even when off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.

The need and desire to stay awake and alert in order to cover more road miles are what make drivers drink and continue to drive even while feeling the effects of alcohol. This is one of the saddest effects of getting paid by the mile (about .40 cents per mile). However, rather than making them awake and alert, alcohol will only make them sleepier and more impaired.

It is the duty and responsibility of drivers to always stay sober when operating their truck. Alcohol, though, will lessen their ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles they are driving, putting the lives of so many in danger because alcohol can result to:

  • Slowed and impaired motor control;
  • Inability to remain focused on the roadway;
  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Heightened risk of falling asleep; and,
  • Compromised judgment and decision making abilities

Any act in violation of the laws against drunk-driving can make truck drivers face serious criminal chargers, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for whatever injuries and damages their drunkenness might cause.

According to the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, despite everything they know about the inherent dangers of the vehicles they operate, the fact is that some truck drivers still choose to get behind the wheel while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As difficult as these decisions are to understand, the consequences of accidents caused by intoxicated truckers can leave victims and their families reeling. Victims, therefore, should be ready to take legal action against the trucker responsible for their accident.

Annulment of Marriage in Texas

Legally ending a marital union may be done either through petitioning for divorce or through annulment. Divorce refers to the dissolution or termination of a legally binding marriage, while annulment refers to the cancellation of a marriage.

A marriage entered into by two individuals and which is recognized by the state may be terminated or legally dissolved through divorce. In annulment, however, a marriage may only be annulled if the one entered into by two individuals is not legally binding since it was null and void from the very start. This means that though a marriage did take place, it was totally unacceptable and invalid, to begin with. Thus, unlike divorce, which may be filed with or without reasonable grounds, a marriage may only be annulled if any of the grounds listed below is met:

  • Incest. This would be the case if the two individuals who enter into marriage are blood related (most states outlaw marriages between relatives that are closer than second cousins);
  • Bigamy. This is the case when one of the spouses enters into (another) marriage while still in another marriage (that has not been terminated);
  • Underage. This means that either or both individuals, who entered into marriage, are under the age 16 (the age of consent).

According to the law firm Kirker Davis, LLP, there are also grounds that make a marriage voidable. This means that the marriage is legal, but should be voided or nullified/canceled due to any of the following reasons (states differ with regard to the grounds for annulling a marriage. The grounds listed below are the grounds recognized in the state of Texas):

  • One of the parties is 16 or older, but under the age of 18 and entered into the marriage without parental consent or a court order;
  • At the time of the marriage, the petitioner was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and therefore, did not have the capacity to consent to marriage;
  • Either party, for physical or mental reasons, was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage and the petitioner did not know of the impotency;
  • The other party used fraud, duress or force to induce the petitioner to enter into the marriage;
  • The petitioner did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony because of a mental disease or defect, at the time of marriage;
  • One party concealed a divorce, that occurred less than 30 days before the marriage, from the Petitioner, and the annulment suit is filed less than one year after the date of the marriage;
  • If the parties married less than 72 hours after the marriage license was granted and the annulment suit is filed less than 30 days after the date of the marriage.

For a court to grant an annulment, the petitioner ought to have refrained from voluntarily cohabiting with the other spouse after learning of the issue at hand or after the petitioner is no longer under the influence of the claimed grounds for the annulment.

Common Myths About Child Custody

Determining child custody is an emotionally exhausting process. In fact, according to the website of the child custody attorneys of Kirker Davis LLP, it is often the most highly contentious part of a divorce. Due to the controversial nature of child custody, there has been many misconceptions about it.

Myth: Mothers always get custody
It is a common misconception that mothers always get custody, because they are the “greater parent” for bearing the child. It may be true that mothers may get custody if the child is in his or her tender years, but generally, the courts have no biases against genders. The courts will grant custody to the parent who can put the child in a better condition, in terms of health, safety, and other aspects of life. It doesn’t matter whether that parent is the mother or the father.

Myth: A child can choose which side to follow upon reaching a certain age
Another common misconception is that the child has the right to choose a side when he or she reaches a certain age, which is usually twelve to fifteen. It is true that the child may choose which parent to be with, but the choice is not absolute. The best that could happen is that the judge may consider it as a factor in determining custody. Its weight as a factor depends on the child’s age, maturity level, and reason, but at the end of the day, the judge will give custody with the best interest of the child in mind.

Myth: Joint custody means that the child will get equal time with both parents
Parents can gain joint custody over a child, but it doesn’t mean that the child will have equal time with both. Joint custody may mean that both parents may share decisions regarding the child, such as in terms of residence, education, religion, and other important factors that affect the child’s wellbeing. But the child is more likely to spend more time with the parent who he or she is with on a day-to-day basis.

When is Retaliation Declared Illegal?

Oftentimes, employees who complain about unfair labor and/or discriminatory practices in the workplace, or assist in an unfair employment practice investigation, certain individuals try to find ways which will get such employees demoted or terminated. Worst scenario is if the employer will play an active or direct role in retaliating against these employees.

There are many existing federal and state laws that provide protection employees and job applicants from any form of unfair and discriminatory practices in the workplace. These laws also require employers to make sure that their companies are free from discriminatory practices and that whoever would be proven guilty of such acts should be given the necessary disciplinary actions.

Despite the existence of laws, including and especially, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 however, so many firms remain to be guilty of committing different forms of discriminatory practices. Title VII prohibits any form of workplace harassment, abuse and discrimination based on one’s sex or gender, race, color, national origin and religion. Though not clearly stipulated, Title VII , nevertheless, also strictly prohibits any form of retaliation against any employee who either makes, or helps make, evident prohibited acts, especially if the perpetrator is someone in authority.

Retaliation refers to any hostile act or behavior an employer, employment agency or labor organization may resort to, to show dissatisfaction against an employee who plays a part in legally protected activities. A hostile or adverse act can include denial of employment, unjustified negative evaluation, threats of criminal or civil charges, or unjust termination in order to hinder an employee either from taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding or from complaining about a discriminatory act. A legally protected activity, on the other hand, refers to any action that is aimed at exposing and proving harassment and/or discriminatory practices in the workplace, such as:

  • Refusal to perform discriminatory or illegal acts that are ordered by a superior;
  • Complaining about or protesting against workplace discrimination;
  • Deciding to file charges of employment discrimination or showing intent to file one; and,
  • Participating as a witness in a legal proceeding or EEO investigation.

A person complained about will certainly be displeased with the complainant who makes accusations against him/her. Thus, the latter will have to be certain that accused individual is, indeed, resorting to retaliatory acts or is simply displeased.

While some retaliatory acts may be obvious, like a demotion, salary reduction, being laid off or being denied a promotion or salary increase soon after a legally protected activity; there are also those
that are subtle and are, therefore, not evident, such as job relocation or sudden change in work schedule, which can be a major factor in limiting an employee’s flexibility.

Besides participating in a legally protected activity, it is also mentioned in the Leichter Law Firm that it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who file Workers’ Compensation claim or who report illegal activity as whistleblowers. Employers who unlawfully retaliate against an employee may be liable for lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

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