If you run a bar, nightclub, tavern or other type of alcohol-serving restaurant in the state of Texas (or really anywhere in the U.S.) it’s highly recommended that you carry liquor liability insurance for your establishment. Specifically, a liquor liability policy covers legal fees and court costs for most alcohol-induced incidents that occur at your business in the event that you’re sued or found liable of some sort of altercation. These three recent liquor liability insurance lawsuits in Texas can serve as a great reminder as to why it’s so important to get insurance for bars, restaurants, and even events.

In the state of Texas, it’s not mandatory for alcohol-serving establishments to carry a liquor liability policy. While some establishments may be OK with gambling that they’ll never be roped into a court case, the old adage “better safe than sorry” is a fantastic reason for many bars to purchase a liquor liability policy.

For instance, if you’re sued and found liable, you could be paying thousands – perhaps even hundreds of thousands or millions – of dollars out of pocket to make amends. Many bars and restaurants can’t afford that and, as a result, go out of business. Liquor liability insurance lawsuits are more common than one might imagine.

Although liquor liability insurance isn’t mandatory in Texas, that’s not to say that lawsuits don’t occur over alcohol-related incidents. We’ve found three of the more significant cases that have occurred in the state in recent years – all of which serve as a good reminder to get insured:

3 Notable Liquor Liability Insurance Lawsuits in Texas

  1. The Bryant Hernandez Case: This case is one example of how expensive liquor liability insurance lawsuits can be when it comes to alcohol-related incidents. The year was 2011 and the place was Corpus Christi, Texas when a bar patron who had consumed too much alcohol collided in a head-on crash with 18-year-old Bryant Hernandez. Both Hernandez and the other driver were killed in the collision. About two years later in 2013, the bar that the drunk driver was drinking at that night was found liable by a Texas jury for $18.75 million. Thankfully, for the bar’s sake, it did have liquor liability insurance. Read about the case on BusinessWire.com.
  2. The SXSW Incident: South by Southwest, or SXSW, is one of the most popular entertainment festivals of the year. Held annually in Austin, Texas, the event blends music, movies and other entertainment. But a black eye was cast upon the festival in 2014 when a drunken driver, Rashad Owens, was found guilty of capital murder after a crash he caused left four people dead. In addition to suing the SXSW festival, family members of the deceased have also filed suit against Club 1808, where Owens was partying the night of the crash. The lawsuit is ongoing, but Club 1808 has since closed. This was reported by KXAN.
  3. The Amarillo Nightclub Incident: A fight, a head injury and a lawsuit for $1 million – that’s the jest of a case that’s been put against an Amarillo nightclub back in 2011 when William Lawler was having a few drinks with a friend at Pink Sports Bar. Lawler alleges that the fight escalated after he and his counterpart were over-served at the establishment. While the case is ongoing, Lawler is suing Pink Sports Bar for $1 million for his medical expenses, pain and anguish and loss of earnings potential. This case is also a good example of why a bar or nightclub should also consider adding assault and battery coverage to their insurance policy. While a liquor liability policy may cover physical altercations stemming from alcohol, not all policies do. Assault and battery coverage, however, does.

As you can see, liquor liability coverage can literally save a business, as was the case in the first item listed involving Bryant Hernandez. And at the same time, the lack of liquor liability insurance can also potentially sink a business. You buy insurance for your home in case the unthinkable happens. The same is largely true of why you should outfit your bar or nightclub with liquor liability insurance, no matter what type of establishment you run or how safe of an area it’s located in. You never quite know when the unthinkable may happen, and being on the wrong end of liquor liability insurance lawsuits could be your story too.