North Carolina is already a state with pretty strict laws regarding alcoholic beverages. For example, ABC stores in the state are government-owned, and alcohol can only be served Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 am. On Sundays, alcohol can only be sold, served, and consumed after 10:00 am. So, it’s no surprise that the state also has dram shop laws in place.
Dram shop laws are designed to hold alcohol vendors liable when they sell or serve alcohol to someone who then goes on to injure or kill someone else. In North Carolina, these laws apply to licensed and unlicensed establishments and private individuals who host parties or other events where alcohol is served.
If you or a loved one has been injured by someone who was served alcohol at a North Carolina establishment, you may be able to file a dram shop claim. These claims can be complex, so working with an experienced personal injury attorney is important. The attorney can help you investigate the case and gather evidence to support your claim.
Contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor today to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.
What Are Dram Shop Laws?
A dram shop law is a civil liability statute requiring commercial vendors of alcoholic beverages to be responsible for injuries and harmful acts resulting from their customers’ intoxication. For example, suppose a bartender serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual who gets into a car accident and injures someone. In that case, the victim of the accident may be able to sue the bar for serving alcohol to the visibly intoxicated individual.
Dram shop laws exist in 30 U.S. states and vary from state to state. In most cases, the rules limit liability to commercial establishments such as bars, taverns, and restaurants. In some states, however, social hosts are also liable.
Dram shop laws hinge based on negligence. The plaintiff must prove that the vendor knew or should have known that the customer was visibly intoxicated and continued to serve alcohol to them. In some states, the plaintiff must also prove that the intoxication was a proximate cause of the accident or injury.
What Are North Carolina’s Dram Shop Laws?
In North Carolina, the law states that selling alcohol to intoxicated persons is illegal. According to North Carolina General Statutes Section 18B-305, “It shall be unlawful for a permittee or his employee or for an ABC store employee to knowingly sell or give alcoholic beverages to any person who is intoxicated.” Thus, third-party establishments may be held liable for doing so when it results in an injury or harmful act.
For negligence to be present, the establishment or its employee must knowingly serve the intoxicated person. This means that the server must be aware that the person is intoxicated at the time of service. North Carolina courts have ruled that bars and restaurants can be held liable even if they did not cause the intoxication, as long as they served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual.
Can I Hold a Social Host Liable For a Drunk Driving Accident?
Yes. In addition to dram shop liability, there are circumstances where private third parties can be held equally liable for damages that result from an intoxicated person. For example, if someone is injured by a drunk driver who consumed alcohol at a party or on someone’s property, the owner or “host” of that party or property could be held responsible.
Three facts must be established for the host of the private party, event, or gathering to be found liable in a drunk driving accident.
- The host must provide alcohol to the driver who later causes an accident
- The host must be aware or reasonably expected to be aware that the guest was intoxicated before leaving the premises
- The host must be aware the intoxicated guest would be driving afterward
Social host liability covers a broad range of situations in North Carolina. For example, if you are injured by a drunk driver who was served alcohol at a wedding reception, the venue hosting the event could be held partially responsible. The same would be true for someone who is served alcohol at a friend’s house party and then gets into an accident on the way home.
How To Prove Liability in a North Carolina Dram Shop Claim
Proving liability in a dram shop claim can be complex. If a drunk driver has injured you, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. An experienced attorney will be able to help you gather evidence and build a strong case against the responsible parties. The evidence may include:
- Sales receipts
- Surveillance camera video footage
- Social media posts
- Credit or debit card records
- Witness testimony
Are Drunk Drivers Still Responsible for Damages?
Yes. Even if an establishment or social host is found liable for serving alcohol to a drunk driver, the driver will still be held responsible for any damages caused by an accident. This means that victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to recover damages from both the driver and the responsible parties.
If a drunk driver has injured you, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. An experienced attorney will be able to help you recover the full amount of damages you are entitled to.
What Are the Penalties for Violating North Carolina’s Dram Shop Laws?
If a bar or restaurant is found to have violated North Carolina’s dram shop laws, they may be liable for damages suffered by the injured victim. These damages include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. In some cases, the establishment may also be required to pay punitive damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim in North Carolina?
If a drunk driver has injured you or a loved one, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date of the accident. You have three years to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. If you wait too long, you may be barred from recovering damages.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in North Carolina
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor is dedicated to fighting for the rights of injury victims and their families. We have experience handling various personal injury cases involving drunk driving accidents.
If a drunk driver has injured you or someone you love, it is important to know that you have legal options. An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and help you understand your rights under North Carolina’s dram shop laws. Contact us today for a free consultation.