Drunk driving harms people both on and off the road—including the drunk driver themselves. However, various other parties could be held responsible as well.
While the intoxicated driver should be considered liable, fault can also be placed on the bar or liquor store where that individual received alcohol. When a person injured in a drunk driving accident files a claim against an establishment for over-serving alcohol, this is called a dram shop claim.
Every state handles these claims differently. While South Carolina does not have a specific law regarding this particular issue, state law does recognize these claims and allows them to be filed. Courts use alcohol-related criminal law to refer to when trying these cases, so if a bar or liquor store broke one of these laws, the injured party may be more likely to receive compensation.
An injured individual may use a dram shop claim only to pursue monetary damages, which can include medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. That being said, one of the main benefits of being able to sue an establishment as opposed to a single drunk driver is that, in many cases, the drunk driver who caused the accident does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all the damages the plaintiff might accumulate.
It is also important to note, however, that in South Carolina the statute of limitations on dram shop claims is three years within the date of the accident. As such, it is usually important to contact an attorney immediately after a drunk driving accident in order to ensure that any such claim is filed in a timely manner.
In order to prove liability in a dram shop case, you must prove that the bar, restaurant, or store was being reckless in selling an intoxicated patron alcohol. This means that the plaintiff must provide evidence that the establishment consciously disregarded the risks of over-serving to a drunk customer and they intentionally served alcohol to this individual. Likewise, if a bar serves alcohol to a minor by either failing to verify their age or consciously making a decision to serve to them, an injured victim can file a dram shop claim against that establishment if the minor in question subsequently gets into a drunk driving accident.
Navigating the civil litigation process is not an easy task to take on alone. Please consider reaching out for a consultation if you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to a drunk driver. The seasoned attorneys at the Christmas Law Firm could help you identify the liable party or parties in your case and pursue compensation for all your injuries.