If you are involved in a car or truck accident in South Carolina in which alcohol was involved, multiple parties may be held liable for the damages and injuries that were caused in the alcohol related collision. The obvious liable party is the intoxicated driver, as the at-fault for the accident. In South Carolina however, the injured party may also have a claim against the establishment (bar, restaurant, tavern, convenience store, etc.) that served the driver alcohol prior to the accident under a theory called “dram shop” law.
Although not recognized by statute in South Carolina, dram shop claims have evolved throughout the years by South Carolina Supreme Court decisions. In particular, the Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled in Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge and Grill, Inc., that a bar can be held liable for injuries an intoxicated patron causes if the bar violated South Carolina state law by over serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer . A “visibly intoxicated” adult is one who a reasonable person knew or should have known the adult was intoxicated, often in light of the person’s behaviors or a blood-alcohol test.
While South Carolina courts recognize the liability of establishments who over-serve their patrons, there previously had been no requirement for establishments to insure themselves for alcohol-related incidents. Due to this lack of mandated risk mitigation, injured persons were often left without proper means to recover expenses incurred from injuries caused by intoxicated individuals, such as medical bills or lost wages. Essentially, bars and restaurants were allowed to over-serve patrons without adequately insuring themselves in the event any of their intoxicated patrons drove drunk or assaulted someone.
One of the problems is pursuing a lawsuit against a bar has been the lack of ability to meaningfully recover against the establishment. However, in 2017, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a new law requiring establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption after 5:00 P.M. to maintain liquor liability insurance of at least $1 million. The law, which takes effect on July 1, 2017, applies to both new applicants for liquor permits and licenses, as well as those renewing permits or licenses. This law creates an avenue for an injured person to recover from a bar or restaurant that allows a patron to get drunk or overly intoxicated.
The Goings Law Firm has many years of experience holding these alcohol permit holders legally responsible when allow a patron to get drunk and then drive on our roads endangering innocent lives. We are Real Lawyers who know how to get Real Results for DUI related injuries and deaths. Contact an experienced dram shop and alcohol liability attorney at the Goings Law Firm today at 803-350-9230.