South Carolina residents owe it to themselves and other drivers to avoid operating vehicles when they’re under the influence of alcohol. While individual drivers should absolutely be held responsible in the event of any crash involving alcohol impairment, restaurants and bars who knowingly serve intoxicated patrons should also be held responsible for their actions.
Enter the complicated personal injury niche known as dram shop law. This references the complicated web of liability that can arise when drunk drivers have been served by establishments known as dram shops. Keep reading to learn how these personal injury cases work — and why it’s so important to work with a South Carolina dram shop lawyer.
The term “dram shop” references any commercial enterprise that sells alcoholic beverages. Common examples include bars, pubs, dance clubs, and restaurants. Dram shop laws determine the extent to which these and other types of businesses can be held liable based on how their intoxicated customers behave — especially if their negligence causes harm to innocent individuals.
Dram shop rules vary significantly from one state to the next. In general, however, establishments that sell alcohol can get in big trouble if they continue to serve alcohol to patrons who are obviously intoxicated or are under the legal drinking age.
South Carolina does not currently have a specific statute designated as a dram shop law. Rather, the state prohibits businesses from knowingly serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals or minors. That being said, dram shop liability is recognized in South Carolina, so it is possible for those negatively impacted by intoxicated individuals to seek accountability from the bars or other establishments that serve them.
Dram shop liability typically involves drunk driving cases, in which intoxicated bar patrons proceed to get behind the wheel. If their impaired driving leads to an accident that harms innocent drivers or passengers, it may be possible for the bar that served the intoxicated driver to be held accountable.
Many types of damages are available in South Carolina dram shop cases. Coverage for medical expenses is especially common, although many plaintiffs are also able to secure compensation for lost wages. Pain and suffering damages may also be possible. It’s important to work with a dram shop lawyer to determine the full range of damages available.
Not sure who to hold accountable after a South Carolina drunk driving accident? A trusted Greenville dram shop lawyer can help you determine the best avenues for delivering justice and securing compensation. Look to Smith Jordan for guidance every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more.
In South Carolina, dram shop liability reflects other personal injury claims in that victims have three years to file in most cases. This statute of limitations also applies to wrongful death claims.
Intoxication can often be difficult to determine, particularly if breathalyzer tests are not immediately available. Defendants may argue that servers at dram shops were unable to determine that a given patron was intoxicated before being served even more alcohol. Security footage or witness testimony may refute such claims. Records such as the patron’s tab may also provide helpful evidence, as an unusually high number of drinks would indicate an excessive level of intoxication.
In 2017, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a noteworthy law that has already had a significant impact on local dram shop cases: premises that sell alcohol on premises after 5 pm must now carry at least $1 million in related liability insurance. This South Carolina dram shop law provides a noteworthy means for victims to collect damages after car accidents involving intoxicated patrons.
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