What are the Alcohol Liability and Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina?
The alcohol liability and dram shop laws in South Carolina can protect victims of alcohol related injury or death. Alcohol has proven to be a lead factor in the cause of injuries and deaths on the highways of South Carolina. South Carolina currently ranks 2nd for the most DUI fatalities per capita in the United States. In recovering for our clients, we do not stop with the drunk driver. We pursue those that cause and enable the drunk driver.
The Goings Law Firm regularly sues restaurants and bar owners, social clubs, and individuals in cases arising from accidents involving the service of alcohol to intoxicated persons and minors. Dram Shop laws are intended to prevent restaurants, bars, and clubs from serving alcohol to minors and serving alcohol to intoxicated persons. If a restaurant, bar, or club violates such Dram Shop laws and someone is injured as a result, the establishment can be held responsible for the injuries. Our attorneys are well versed in these laws and experienced in representing both injured victims involving the sale and service of alcohol.
South Carolina has specific statutory and common law that governs the liability of restaurants, bars, social clubs and even individual people (social hosts) with respect to the service of alcohol under certain situations. These laws govern what is known as dram shop liability, tavern owner liability, liquor liability and social host liability, and they may allow an injured party to hold a restaurant, bar, club, or individual responsible for injuries or death caused by the service of alcohol.
While South Carolina does not have a “Dram Shop Act,” it is illegal in South Carolina to “knowingly” serve alcohol to any person who is intoxicated. To pursue a Dram Shop action, the injured party must apply the criminal statutes governing alcohol control (S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580) and demonstrate that an establishment knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated person. If the injured party can establish that a restaurant or a bar knew or should have known that it was serving an intoxicated person, whether by signs of visible intoxication or based upon the type, number and time period over which the customer consumed alcoholic drinks, that restaurant or bar is liable for the resulting injuries and damages proximately caused by the drunk driver. Additionally, if a restaurant or bar knew or should have known an alcohol purchaser is under 21 years of age, then that restaurant or bar could be liable if the purchaser’s intoxication caused an injury. Similarly, an adult social host who knowingly serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other persons for damages proximately resulting from the host’s service of alcohol.
In a recent case, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a $10 million verdict against The Getaway Lounge & Grill and its owners. See Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge & Grill, Inc., 388 S.C. 407 (2010). The case involved a customer who spent a night visiting a number of bars, including The Getaway, before getting into a motor vehicle collision, which killed the customer and seriously injured the driver of the other vehicle. One of the owners of The Getaway testified that the customer did not appear intoxicated while he was there. Fluid samples taken from the customer’s body indicated that his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) was .212. At trial, a forensic chemistry expert, using a method known as “retrograde extrapolation,” estimated that his BAC when he left The Getaway must have been between .18 and .20 and that, therefore, “he would have been grossly intoxicated and exhibiting symptoms of intoxication.” The Court stated that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the forensic chemist’s expert testimony. Notably, the Court also held that a customer need not be “visibly intoxicated” for the imposition of dram shop liability; rather, “knowledge” of intoxication may be acquired through different mediums. The complexities of the Getaway case demonstrate that it is critical to retain an attorney with experience and knowledge in the area of dram shop litigation.
Dram shop liability is a specialized area of law, both from a practical and a legal perspective. Dram shop cases are often fact-intensive and require extensive resources and experts to prove the elements of the case. Dram shop cases often turn on the issue of liability, making the timely collection and analysis of police reports, receipts, video, social media, and eye witness statements crucial. Dram shop claims involve unique aspects of the law as well. For example, South Carolina’s modified joint and several liability system does not apply to conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol. This has significant consequences in multi-defendant litigation, resulting in the ability to collect 100% of the damages awarded from a restaurant or bar that is found just 1% liable. Also, there is no cap on punitive damages under for negligence based on alcohol liability. Thus, having an attorney experienced in dram shop litigation is crucial to both bringing and defending these claims.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver and you believe a bar or restaurant may be responsible, call us today at 803-350-9230 or contact us online for a free consultation today,
If you are involved in a car and 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, 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 purusing 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.
If you have a Shoulder Injury from a on the job injury, listen to this short video to learn how the Goings Law Firm can help you get the benefits that you deserve under the South Carolina Workers Compensation laws. You need lawyer that you can trust. Call us today at 803-350-9230 for a free consultation.
Earlier this month, the University of South Carolina School of Law Mock Trial hosted a regional of the National Trial Competition. Nineteen teams traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to compete at the event along with the USC School of Law’s Mock Trial Team to earn a spot at the 2019 National Competition.
Mock Trial is a program that was developed to help students from middle school to law school to advance their trial advocacy skills. These skills include a working knowledge of the United States judicial systems as well as the ability to analyze and communicate effectively. In addition, students learn all about the obligations and responsibilities that they will have as future members of the Bar. Students try out for teams, and competitions held all across the country throughout the fall and spring semesters.
Our office actively supports the USC School of Law—after all, it’s where two of our attorneys, Robert Goings and Jess Gooding, graduated from! We were proud to be sponsors of this year’s Regional Mock Trial competition, and we were even more proud of how the USC School of Law Mock Trial Team represented our local university. Their team was named a 2019 Regional Champion! This is the second year in a row that they have been champions of their region, and this is the fourth time in the last five years that they have advanced to Nationals. They’ll head to San Antonio from March 27 – 31 of this year to compete against the regional winners from across the nation.
Photo by: Nicholas Brausch
Our law clerk, second year University of South Carolina School of Law student Chris Pascal, is a member of the University’s Mock Trial Team. Chris competed with his team in the Regionals and afterwards, was named an Outstanding Advocate for the completion. What an incredible honor—congratulations, Chris! We’ll all be cheering you and your team on during Nationals!
Photo by: Nicholas Brausch
We often are asked by clients if they can sue a bar, restaurant, or business for over-serving a person that caused a drunk driving related accident.
The answer is “YES”.
South Carolina does not have a statutory law known as a “dram stop statute” like many states have enacted governing civil liability for alcohol sales. Rather, through common law, the South Carolina Supreme Court has established legal precedent that allows injured victims to pursue recovery from alcohol-related accidents by creating a duty of care based on statutory laws that govern the sale of alcohol. For example, S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580(1) prohibits the sale of alcohol persons under the age of 21 and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(2) prohibits the sale of the sale alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Most lawsuits filed against bars, taverns, and restaurants assert a theory of negligence that relate to selling alcohol to intoxicated persons. These lawsuits are based on the fact that it is illegal to sell alcohol to a patron if a server knows, or should have known, that the patron is intoxicated. Likewise, a convenience store may be liable if it sells beer to someone underage, and that underage person gets behind the wheel after drinking, causing a serious collision resulting in injury or death.
While South Carolina does not have a specific “dram shop” statute, in July 2017, a new law came into effect in that requires all bars and restaurants that serve alcohol past 5:00 p.m. to carry at least $1 million ($1,000,000) in liquor liability insurance. This statute amends current state alcohol licensing and permit laws by noting that businesses seeking a new permit or to renew an existing one will be affected by the law. The important consideration of this new law is to allow victims to recover due to liability caused by the wrongful serving, consumption, or use of alcoholic beverages. This is especially true because many drunk drivers do not have enough insurance coverage or personal assets that are collectable to pay for the serious harm. Often times, the only way to fully recover for the harm of a drunk driver is to bring a legal claim against the businesses that profit and promote this illegal behavior.
Attorneys that Sue Bars and Drinking Establishments in South Carolina
The Goings Law Firm is known in the legal community for successfully winning lawsuits against bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and drinking establishments. We seek justice against the businesses that profit and promote intoxicated behavior. If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident, call us to explore a legal action against the businesses that enabled that wrongful conduct. Contacting us today is important so that we can begin our investigation and gather critical evidence to help establish liability before it gets lost or destroyed. Contact the attorneys at the Goings Law Firm by calling us at (803) 350-9230 or through our contact page immediately for a FREE consultation.
Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of traffic collisions. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality every 48 minutes in 2017. Based on the legal definition of impaired driving, alcohol-impaired crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above.
According to NHTSA 10,874 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2017. Alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all crash fatalities. Unfortunately, the DUI arrest rate is much lower. Statistics show that with nearly a million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence compared to the 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving that same year.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a DUI crash, you may be wondering what legal action you can take. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
Wrongful death laws allow survivors to pursue monetary compensation for those whose negligence or intentional act of harm caused a loved one’s death. Each state has its own wrongful death statute which governs how a wrongful death action is brought, the types of civil damages that are recoverable, and which family members are allowed to receive compensation. In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except the estate of the deceased person steps in to seek compensation on their behalf. The wrongful death action can only be brought by a person that is determined by the court to be the “personal representative.” So, not just any family members of the deceased to file the claim.
HOW STATE LAWS AFFECT DAMAGES
Though many DUI crashes result in criminal charges, some do not. If your loved one was killed in a drug or alcohol related collision, and the driver was not charged by the police, you still may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court.
South Carolina law also affect how damages are handled. Because a wrongful death case is a civil claim, liability comes in the form of damages, rather than punishment by imprisonment or other penalties that can be decided in a criminal case. South Carolina law the recovery of “compensatory damages, which includes the following:
- Pecuniary Loss – the loss of the deceased’s ability to earn money in which the beneficiary might logically and reasonable have been expected to share, such as money for the care and protection of the deceased’s spouse and children and for the education and training of the deceased’s children. Where the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child exists, pecuniary loss will be presumed.
- Mental Shock and Suffering.
- Wounded Feelings.
- Grief and Sorrow.
- Loss of Companionship.
- Loss of the use and comfort of the deceased’s society, including the loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, and judgment in managing the affairs of the deceased and his or her beneficiaries.
- medical and funeral expenses
In cases involving a drunk or impaired driver, South Carolina law may also permit punitive damages, which are designed the punish a defendant who’s found negligent and deter similar negligent actions in future.
WHEN TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
When a loved one dies in an alcohol-related crash, family members are often left stunned and unsure where to turn for help. Seeking legal advice immediately following the accident is advised, as evidence can be collected and eyewitnesses can be contacted. Memories get fuzzy, damages get repaired and the chance of video or photographic evidence being deleted or lost rises as time passes. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure as much evidence as possible is collected. You should never delay in determining your legal rights.
It is important to know that each state has a unique statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the legal principle that sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In South Carolina, a case generally must be filed within three (3) years of the date of the collision. In certain situations, this statute of limitations may be shortened to two (2) years if for some reason the case is governed by the S.C. Tort Claims Act. It is important to understand that if you fail to bring the case within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will forfeit your rights to assert any action.
LEGAL HELP FOR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have about your case.
The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC have represented many families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our team understands the importance of working quickly to gather evidence that can be used to help us fight for the justice you deserve. We have extensive experience representing the families of victims and other wrongful death claims in Alabama.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone getting behind the wheel when they were intoxicated or otherwise acting irresponsibly, call (803) 350-9230 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.
The Workers’ Compensation Act in South Carolina provides that if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if he/she suffered any permanent injury as a result of the work accident. The workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina can be complex, difficult to understand, and hard to navigate without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Under the current law, your employer and its insurance carrier has the right to select the doctor who will treat you. If you go to see your own doctor without permission of the employer/carrier, then then employer/carrier may not be responsible for paying for the the medical treatment, unless it constitutes an emergency condition. However, you have the right to choose a physician to evaluate you for the specific disability but typically it will not be paid for by the employer.
Once you suffer an injury on the job you should immediately report it to your supervisor. This should be the same day of the accident, if possible. Never, ever delay reporting the injury to your employer. You should also request that the employer provide appropriate medical treatment. In the event that medical treatment is not provided or not paid for, it would be best to consult with an attorney to determine your rights.
If the claim continues to be contested, or denied, your lawyer should file a Form 50 on your behalf with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a contested hearing. This sets out the various parties, the date and description of the accident, who you reported it to, the injuries suffered, whether medical treatment is needed, any disfigurement you may have received and any other relief you may be requesting.
The employer, unless self insured, is usually represented by an insurance company known as the carrier. The carrier files an answer on a Form 51, where they may admit or deny what you have said in your Form 50. The case is then placed on the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s docket, and assigned to an individual Commissioner who acts as a fact finder and also rules on the law. A hearing is usually held within three to five months, and at the hearing the employee presents his/her case. You should understand that the employer/carrier will always have an attorney defending the case. If the employer/carrier has an experienced lawyer, shouldn’t you?
Usually medical testimony is presented in the form of a deposition and your physician will not attend a hearing. The other medical evidence that the Commissioner will rely upon are the medical records you and the Carrier present.
Once a commissioner has ruled on the case, the Commissioner will issue an Opinion and Award which sets forth his/her ruling of fact and law, and what relief, if any, the employee gets. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision, the case can be appealed to the full Commission which is made up of all the Workers’ Compensation Commissioners except for the one who heard the case originally. After that hearing is held, if either party is dissatisfied with the decision, it can be appealed to the Circuit Court and on up to the South Carolina Supreme Court, depending on the procedural posture of the claim. You have 14 days from the date of the Order to file an appeal.
Fault or negligence is not an issue regarding the payment of a workers’ compensation claim unless, for example, the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury. Remember, if you are injured on the job, report the incident to your supervisor.
If you feel like you are not getting medical treatment or not being paid for being out of work, these are tell-tell signs that seeking legal assistance may be necessary. We are happy to discuss your claim with you to see if an attorney would be your best route to protect you. Call us today for an honest and confidential evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim. The number to the Goings Law Firm, LLC is (803) 350-9230.
Do you need advise in negotiating your workers’ compensation settlement? Is the Insurance Company and the employer not being fair? A proposed new law in SC may help protect you!
A proposed new law introduced by S.C. House Representative Beth Bernstein has been filed to help protect injured workers when negotiating workers’ compensation settlements. S.C. House Bill 3352 is designed to prevent insurance companies or employers from demanding that injuries employee are required to release other legal claims, such as employment claims (such as ADA violations, sex, age, and gender discrimination, wage disputes) and other employment related disputes as a condition to resolving a workers’ compensation claim for a work related injury. The legislation would prohibit these tactics by employers and carrier, and any such negotiations on these terms would constitute “per se bad faith.” This would be a big win for employees because insurance companies or employers attempt to hold employees “over a barrel” when negotiating settlements, and often time conditioning any workers’ compensation settlement to a full release of any and all legal rights that the employee may have against the employer.
This bill is currently in committee and if passes committee, it may be voted on by the General Assembly this year. The language of the proposed legislation, S.C. House Bill 3352, states:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 17, Title 42 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
“Section 42-17-15. (A) A settlement agreement as to compensation between and employer and an injured employee or his dependents provided in Section 42-17-10 is void and unenforceable to the extent that the injured employee or his dependents agree to dismiss, release and forever discharge complaints, liabilities, obligations, promises, agreements, controversies, claims for attorney’s fees, damages, actions, causes of actions, suits, rights, demands, costs, losses, debts, and expenses, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which the injured employee or his dependents have, own, or hold against the employer up to the date of the release including, but not limited to:
(1) claims of unlawful employment discrimination arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000 et seq., the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1990, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, as amended, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as amended, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA);
(2) claims for disability and other forms of discrimination or harassment under applicable state or federal antidiscrimination and civil rights laws, claims for retaliation or discrimination under the workers’ compensation law, torts of any kind, including, but not limited to, misrepresentation, negligent or otherwise, fraud, defamation, liable, battery, assault, slander, claims for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with an advantageous business relationship, negligent hiring, negligent retention, interference with contractual relations, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, termination of employment in violation of public policy, breach of employment contract, expressed or implied, nonpayment of wages, overtime, bonus, or other compensation or benefits, or invasion of privacy;
(3) claims or rights under state and federal whistleblower legislation; and
(4) other claims, losses, injuries, or damages resulting from, arising out of, or connected directly or indirectly with the employment with the employer including, but not limited to, claims for damages, salary, wages, compensation, monetary relief, employment benefits including, but not limited to, any claims for benefits under an employee benefit plan or any retirement plan, profit sharing, capital stock, bonuses, merit and longevity increases, and all other benefits of any kind, earnings, back pay, front pay, liquidated and other damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, damages to character, damage to reputation, emotional distress, mental distress, depression, injury, impairment in locating employment, financial loss, home foreclosure, pain and suffering, being made whole, injunctive and declaratory relief, interest, or attorney’s fees and costs arising from the injured employee’s employment.
(B) The offer of a settlement agreement as to compensation that includes any of the prohibited dismissal, release, or discharge conditions enumerated in subsection (A) constitutes bad faith per se.”
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Do you need help negotiating a workers’ compensation settlement? We know how to help in order to make sure you receive all the compensation that you are entitled under the law. Don’t let the insurance company get over on you– hire an experienced lawyer who can help you today!
South Carolina Ranks #2 Worst Drivers in United States as a Result of Drunk Driving Statistics
Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the US and were expected to cause around 40,000 deaths by the end of 2018.
To put it plainly, America’s roads are dangerous. Texting behind the wheel is a major reason for many traffic fatalities, and it’s only getting worse. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving. Plus, cheap gas and a strong economy means America’s 222 million licensed drivers are driving more than ever. More people on the road leads to more accidents and citations.
South Carolina was ranked No. 2 on QuoteWizard’s list for “Best and Worst Drivers” across the United States. Last year, the State of South Carolina came in at No. 4, but an increase in DUIs brought it up in the rankings. Nearly half of all fatal crashes in South Carolina are because of drunk driving, according to the study. Drivers can blame an increase in DUIs for the jump from last year’s rank as the fourth worst drivers to the second worst drivers this year.
However, South Carolina didn’t nab the top spot when it comes to bad drivers — that was Maine; with Nebraska, California and North Dakota rounding out the Top 5.
Rankings for this study by QuoteWizard was determined by accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations and fatalities in each state throughout the year.
The Goings Law Firm is committed to fighting drunk drivers in Court for the harm their cause to innocent people on the roads. We have been awarded large verdicts and settlements for our clients against drunk drivers, and if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call us today at (803) 350-9230 for a Free Consultation to see if we can help you.