Shane Rollins Killed in Vidor, TX, Drunk Driving Accident
Vidor, TX -- December 26, 2016, Shane Rollins was killed due to an accident where alleged drunk driver Christopher Morgan hit him on the side of the road.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, 41-year-old Rollins was walking along a narrow road just south of Vidor. He was walking northbound on the southbound side of the roadway.
The incident occurred around 10:00 p.m. As Rollins was walking, a pickup truck veered off the roadway and crashed into Rollins, throwing him onto the ground. Rollins suffered critical injuries as a result, and he died at the scene.
The driver of the vehicle, 31-year-old Morgan, was said to show signs of intoxication following the accident. After investigating, officers placed Morgan under arrest and charged him with intoxication manslaughter.
At this time, investigations are ongoing. No additional information is currently ongoing.
Map of the Area
Looking at the details of this accident, it certainly seems that authorities are confident that Mr. Morgan was intoxicated at the time of the incident. A lot of people see drunk driving accidents like this one and immediately assume the victims and their families will be compensated for the accident. Determining liability is not quite that simple, and the fact that alcohol is involved makes things a bit more complex. Drunk driving accidents can fall under an area of personal injury and wrongful death law called Dram Shop Law.
Determining if dram shop law applies to an accident depends on the context of the accident. There are three distinct possibilities in this particular crash. The first is that the charges are wrong, and the driver wasn't actually intoxicated. This means Dram Shop doesn't apply. The second possibility is that the driver was drunk, but he got drunk at home or a friend's house, pretty much anywhere that isn't licensed to sell alcohol. Again, this would not fall under Dram Shop and the driver would be solely liable.
The third possibility is that the driver got drunk at a bar, restaurant, or other establishment that legally sells alcohol. If this is the case, then we find ourselves in a Dram Shop scenario. Dram Shop in Texas says that a business which over-serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual can be held liable for damages resulting from that person's intoxication. In other words, if a bartender gives alcohol to someone who already presents signs of intoxication and that person goes out and harms someone due to being drunk, the bar could be held liable for the damages the drunk individual caused.
Selling alcohol in Texas is not a right, but a privilege. As such, it can be subject to whatever restrictions that we, as a community, see fit to put in place. Business get to reap the benefits of this privilege, which means that it stands to reason they should suffer consequences when their failure to uphold the standards of the community results in harm.
Dram shop law can be controversial because many people see it as bars and restaurants being sued just for doing business as usual. Things aren't really that simple. When a business acquires a license to sell alcohol, they agree to follow this law and to use proper judgement when serving alcohol to their customers. When a businesses intentionally or negligently over-serves their customers, they're not only breaking the law, but also violating the rules they agreed to when they got the license in the first place. Irresponsibly serving them too much alcohol is not only a blatant disregard of Texas law, it's a disregard for people's safety. This makes them a co-conspirator in any harm that results from their over-service.
After all, not one, but two people may have broken the law in this case. The alleged drunk driver is facing the consequences for his actions in the form of an intoxication manslaughter charge. If there's a bar or liquor store out there that also profited off Mr. Rollins's death, shouldn't there be consequences for them too? The law in Texas makes sure that there are.
--Grossman Law Offices