Your life changed in that devastating moment when a drunk driver crashed into you or your loved one. Whether you suffered debilitating injuries or your loved one was killed, your life will never be the same. In addition to what you have lost, you are also facing astronomical bills to pay for medical care or funeral expenses. While no amount of money can turn back the clock to before the crash, compensation from the parties who caused the crash can help you focus on what matters most—your physical recovery or mourning your loved one.
Our skilled personal injury attorneys are proud to represent the victims of drunk driving crashes to help them recover what they deserve. We will not only hold the drunk driver accountable, but we will also investigate to find out if the driver was served alcohol in a bar or restaurant that should also be held liable.
When Is a Bar Liable in a Drunk Driving Crash?
Many states have laws on the books that hold establishments that serve alcohol liable if their patrons cause an accident that injures or kills people. These laws are commonly known as dram shop laws. South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop law in our criminal code, but the state does allow for holding bars and restaurants financially responsible for drunk driving crashes in certain situations. If the patron is under the legal drinking age of 21 or is intoxicated, it is illegal for the bar to serve them alcohol. If they do, the business can be sued for damages if that patron goes on to injure or kill someone.
How a Lawyer Can Prove a Bar’s Liability
Because most drivers in South Carolina only carry $25,000 in liability insurance—the minimum amount required by law, it is often necessary to look for additional sources of compensation in order to cover the extensive medical bills many drunk driving victims face. When we represent drunk driving victims, we always investigate what the driver did in the hours leading up to the crash. If the driver was drinking in a bar or restaurant (or they are underage), we will look for evidence that the bar is liable. Evidence we will look for includes:
- Surveillance or cellphone video. Ideally, we will uncover video footage of the drunk driver in the bar showing signs that they were intoxicated while being served alcohol. South Carolina courts have said that the patron does not have to be visibly intoxicated (i.e., falling off a stool or behaving erratically) in order for the bar to be found liable, so footage of the driver proving that they were served many drinks over a short period of time could be sufficient evidence.
- Receipts. Bar receipts or the driver’s credit card activity could also be used to show how many drinks were served over a given period of time.
- Employee statements. Bartenders and servers who made the decision to serve the patron can be held individually liable, so they might not be willing to talk, but other employees might be willing to tell us what they saw.
- Witness statements. Other patrons can be located and interviewed to learn about what happened in the establishment before the drunk patron left. Did employees offer to call a cab? Did the bartender try to take the driver’s keys? If not, the bar could be liable.
- Blood alcohol testing. An analysis of the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood can reveal vital information, such as how much they had to drink and how drunk they likely were as they were being served and when they left the bar.
South Carolina businesses that serve alcohol are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance. This is an important source of compensation for victims of drunk drivers who were served in a bar or restaurant.