Bars, restaurants, and stores that serve or sell alcohol in South Carolina are bound by their liquor licenses to adhere to certain restrictions. Liquor licenses stipulate a range of restrictions, including the kind of alcohol that can be sold, the locations where it can be consumed by patrons, and the hours during which it can be sold. Included in these rules is a prohibition on the sale of alcohol to underage patrons and to people who are visibly intoxicated.
If an establishment violates these terms of their liquor license and the customer they serve goes on to kill or injure others in a drunk driving crash, the business could be held liable for damages. This is informally known as a dram shop law, and an experienced personal injury lawyer can determine if a victim of a drunk driver can also pursue the bar that served them.
Why Dram Shop Liability Is Important
Of course, the person who is most responsible for your losses following a drunk driving crash is the driver. After all, they chose to drink too much and get behind the wheel. You can be sure that the driver will pay a price. Not only will they be prosecuted for the criminal offense of driving under the influence, but our drunk driving victim lawyers will pursue their liability insurance policy and personal assets to make sure you are compensated for the harm you have suffered.
However, as hard as we will fight to get the compensation you need from the driver, you can’t get blood from a stone. If the driver is carrying the state minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance and does not have significant personal assets to go after, we will look for additional sources of compensation to make you whole. If the driver was served alcohol in a bar or restaurant before crashing, we will investigate to see if they violated the law by:
- Serving a visibly intoxicated patron. Evidence such as surveillance video, receipts and bar tabs, eyewitness testimony, and the driver’s BAC at the time of the crash could prove that servers should have known that their customer was too drunk to be served.
- Serving a patron under the age of 21. If the driver who caused your crash was under 21 and was drinking in a bar or bought alcohol from a store, the establishment can be held liable, even if the underage patron presented a fake ID.
- Failing to train waitstaff. Any employee who serves or sells alcohol should be trained to recognize signs of intoxication. If the employer was negligent in making servers aware of the law and training them to cut off drunk customers, they could be held liable.
- Allowing minor employees to serve alcohol. It is illegal for employees under the age of 18 to sell or serve alcohol in South Carolina. If a minor served alcohol to the drunk driver, their employer could be liable.
- Breaking the terms of their liquor license. An establishment that breaks any of the terms of their liquor license—such as selling during off hours, serving in an alcohol-free zone, or serving liquor on a beer and wine license—could be liable in a subsequent drunk driving crash caused by a patron.
Most establishments that sell alcohol in South Carolina are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance in case their negligence leads to a tragic incident, such as a drunk driving crash. Even if you get all available compensation from the drunk driver, you might still be able to sue the bar for 100 percent of your damages under South Carolina law.
Does South Carolina Have a Social Host Law?
Social host laws apply to people who serve alcohol at parties and in private homes. South Carolina’s social host law only applies in situations where a host served a guest who was under the legal drinking age. So, if you were injured by an underage drunk driver who was served alcohol by—or allowed to drink in the home of—an adult, that host could be held liable for your damages as well.
Our Team Leaves No Stone Unturned
With unmatched experience in personal injury law and a culture that focuses on providing responsive, compassionate service to our clients, Pracht Injury Lawyers is here for you. Our mission is to use our hearts and our heads to help our clients whose lives have been forever changed by a drunk driver pursue all of the compensation to which they are entitled. Reach out to our team as soon as you can. We will answer all of your questions and be candid about your options. You have suffered in uncertainty long enough. Get the answers you need now.