According to the NHTSA, in 2013, alcohol-impaired crashes accounted for 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes. See full article here. Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs are a danger to everyone around them including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and even to themselves.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in which the at-fault driver was found to have consumed alcohol, there are claims that may be filed on your behalf other than those against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance and your underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver became intoxicated at a public venue such as a restaurant or bar, you may have a claim to recover for your injuries against that venue under South Carolina’s “dram shop” liability. You may also have a claim against a private party, known as a social host, for allowing the at-fault driver to consume alcohol while a minor under age 21. As these claims are highly technical and often require a great deal of resources to prosecute, it is likely in your best interest to seek experienced legal representation to obtain full compensation for all your damages.
South Carolina’s Dram Shop (Alcohol) Liability Explained
Unlike some states, South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop act or statute in place regulating this field of tort liability. Instead, a series of South Carolina Supreme Court decisions cemented our state’s recognition of the moral reprehensibility associated with drunk driving and a willingness to punish all those involved with a terrible act.
In these cases, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages may be civilly liable for violations of criminal statutes. See Tobias v. Sports Clubs, Inc., 332 S.C. 90, 92, 504 S.E.2d 318, 319 (1998).
One common statutory violation resulting in civil liability occurs when a restaurant or bar knowingly serves an intoxicated patron. See, Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge and Grill, Inc., 388 S.C. 407, 697 S.E.2d 558 (2010). A restaurant or bar can also be held civilly liable for serving a minor. In these two instances, statutes that may have been violated include:
South Carolina Code Ann. §61-4-580: Prohibited Acts
(A) No holder of a permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine or a servant, agent, or employee of the permit may knowingly commit any of the following acts upon the licensed premises covered by the holder’s permit:
South Carolina Code Ann. §61-6-4080: Sale to Person Under The Age of Twenty-One Years
(A) A person engaged in the sale of alcoholic liquors who knowingly sells alcoholic liquors to a person under the age of twenty-one is guilty of a misdemeanor.
South Carolina Code Ann. §61-6-2220. Sales To Intoxicated Persons.
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; these sales are considered violations of the provisions thereof and are subject to the penalties herein.
In South Carolina, any patron with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08 (>.08 BAC) may be considered intoxicated. The jury will be instructed that they may therefore infer that patron was knowingly served while intoxicated.
How Our Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You
At Hughey Law Firm, our team of lawyers uses any and all available resources to discover the extent of your claim, including accident re-constructionists, private investigators, dram shop liability expert witnesses, medical experts, and more. Since our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, we will front the costs to prosecute your claim and won’t recoup these costs unless we are able to recover a monetary award from the at-fault parties or their insurance companies. Our lawyers have all the necessary experience to effectively prosecute all of your claims to the fullest extent of the law to obtain a just reward for your injuries suffered as the result of a drunk driving auto accident.
Contact us today for a free consultation to review your case and determine if retaining a lawyer is in your best interest.
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