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Dram Shop/Drunk Driving Accident Cases

Drunk Driving Accidents

The vast majority of the liquor liability (Dram Shop) cases stem from a drunk driving accident. Over 3,800 people have been killed in South Carolina in the past decade in motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver. As many as 4 out of every 10 traffic deaths in South Carolina are attributable to drunk driving, well above the national average. In South Carolina, drunk driving is a serious public health issue.

South Carolina Law allows families who have lost a loved one and personal injury victims to bring lawsuits against restaurants and bars who may be responsible for a letting a drunk driver loose on our roads. Hiring an experienced dram shop lawyer as soon as possible after an accident is a critical step in holding the drunk driver and the restaurant or bar who got the driver drunk responsible.

Bars and Clubs May Be Liable

Generally, the burden of proof falls upon the plaintiff to prove that at the time the alcohol was provided to the drunk driver, that the individual was intoxicated. Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the over serving of alcohol was a cause of the damages complained of by the plaintiff. Early investigation by an experienced dram shop lawyer who knows the liquor liability laws in South Carolina is an essential step in protecting the victim’s rights.

South Carolina laws and court holdings lay out the rules that restaurants, bars, nightclubs, social clubs, liquor stores, convenience stores and even individual people (social hosts) must follow when they serve alcohol. South Carolina has statutes or rules that restaurants and bars must follow when they choose to profit off of the sale of alcohol. Some of those rules are:

  • “No holder of a permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine or a servant, agent, or employee of the permittee may knowingly commit any of the following acts upon the licensed premises covered by the holder’s permit: (1) sell beer or wine to a person under twenty-one years of age; (2) sell beer or wine to an intoxicated person…” S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580.
  • “A person or establishment licensed to sell alcoholic liquors or liquor by the drink pursuant to this article may not sell these beverages to persons in an intoxicated condition.” S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-2220.
  • “It is unlawful for a person to sell beer, ale, porter, wine or similar malt or fermented beverage to a person under twenty-one years of age.” S.C. Code. Ann. § 61-5-50.
  • “It is unlawful for a person to transfer or give to a person under the age of twenty-one years for the purpose of consumption of beer or wine in the State….” S. C. Code. Ann. § 61-4-90.
  • “It is unlawful for a person to transfer or give to a person under the age of twenty-one years for the purpose of consumption of alcoholic liquors in the State….” S. C. Code. Ann. § 61-6-4070.

These laws, along with decades of court cases, put restaurants and bars on notice that they will be held accountable if they are irresponsible when selling alcohol.

Importance of Early Investigation

It is very important that a dram shop attorney be hired as soon as possible after the drunk driving accident so that a full investigation can be conducted immediately. There are statues of limitations on cases against the restaurant, bar or club and it is important that the attorney for the family started an investigation as soon as practical after the accident. Eyewitnesses that can testify to the drunk driver’s level of intoxication at the restaurant or bar must be identified. Video evidence must be preserved. Sales receipts and records must be obtained.

Our law firm is experienced in handling cases against bars and clubs who have over served a customer who then injured or killed others while driving drunk. When you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident involving serious injuries or the loss of a family member, often the drunk driver doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover the damages. The ability to bring a restaurant, bar or club to court to answer for their responsibility in over serving the drunk driver is sometimes the only civil justice available in many serious injury or wrongful death accidents.

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