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Tyler Phillips Killed After Crashing Into Arlington Home


ARLINGTON — A 25-year-old man was killed after his SUV crashed into an Arlington home.

The male driver of the SUV, identified by family as Tyler Phillips, died at the scene.

The incident happened Thursday night in the 2400 block of South Fielder Road. The homeowner says he was about to go to sleep just before midnight when he heard a crash and saw that an SUV had slammed into his living room, pushing the wall in and throwing a recliner to the other side of the room.

Luckily, no one inside the home was hurt.

Phillips’ father and stepmother stopped by the scene Friday morning.

His stepmother hung a small, silver heart on a tree that Phillips had crashed into before he hit the home.

Phillips’ father, Derek, said his son was drinking with friends at a bar in downtown Arlington and was on his way home when he lost control on the wet roads.

Derek Phillips said he had been out with his son earlier that night, but went home several hours before the crash.

When he hadn’t heard from his son, he grew worried and called him several times. He was able to reach one of his son’s friends, who assured him they would get Phillips home safely.

Phillips’ father now hopes what happened to his son sends a message to others.

“He had been out with a couple friends and they had been drinking and had a missed opportunity to get home safely,” said Derek Phillips. “I don’t think anyone should be drinking and driving. I don’t think he realized what he was up against.”

Phillips had just lost an uncle a few months ago in a motorcycle crash, said his father.

He had just started a new job this week.

Police are still investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

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I am interested to know whether the police consider alcohol a factor in this crash. In 1987, the State of Texas, as well as many other states did, enacted legislation that creates liability for bars and restaurants who over-serve patrons and allow them to get in their cars and put themselves and others in danger. These laws are known as Texas Dram Shop Law. Although proving a dram shop case can be very difficult, the truth is that they exist for a reason and that reason is to punish bars and restaurants and other liquor licensees who know that someone is intoxicated and let them drive anyway. The law must be enforced and those who are injured as a result of the negligence of the establishment must be compensated for their damages.

In order to prove a dram shop case, you must be able to show:

(1) at the time the provider sold or served the alcohol it was apparent to the provider that the recipient was obviously intoxicated to the extent he presented a clear danger to himself and others, and

(2) the intoxication of that individual proximately caused the damages suffered.

In addition to civil liability for commercial providers of alcohol, the Act also provides that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) can revoke the alcohol permit of a provider who violates the above provisions.

On top of proving these elements, we have to overcome the safe harbor provision. The “safe harbor” provision is a three part test that provides a “safe harbor”, so to speak, for the liquor licensee. It is a way for a bar, restaurant, hotel, convenience store, or other seller of alcoholic beverages to entirely avoid liability under the Texas Dram Shop Act even if its employee’s actions violated the Act. To take advantage of this “safe harbor,” the employer must show that:

(1) the employer required its employees to attend a TABC approved “seller training program;”

(2) the employee actually attended the program; and

(3) the employer did not directly or indirectly encourage the employee to violate the Act.

Overcoming these burdens means that a Dram Shop case is very fact specific and time-is-of-the-essence to prove your case against the establishment. We need to speak with bartenders, get copies of receipts, speak to people who were with the intoxicated individual at the bar and ask them about the person’s demeanor and behavior at the bar that may have tipped the licensee off that the individual had become intoxicated.

If you have questions about Dram Shop laws, or you have a Dram Shop case, Call Guest and Gray today! Let our experienced staff of attorneys get to work fighting for your rights against the powerful restaurant and bar establishments and their insurance company.