Who can be held liable if you are injured in a drunk driving accident? The answer to that question depends on the state where the accident occurred. Only 30 U.S. states have what are called dram shop laws. Unfortunately, South Carolina is not one of them.
In our state, a tavern, bar, or restaurant cannot be held liable for serving alcohol to an intoxicated person who later causes an accident. The only exception is if the server knew the person was already intoxicated and served them anyway.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of James E. Taylor have over 25 years of experience handling alcohol-related accidents.
We have a team of dedicated car accident lawyers who are ready to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We do not charge any upfront fees; we only get paid if we win your case.
Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina
While South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop statute, the state does recognize dram shop liability claims. These claims have been authorized through decisions handed down by the South Carolina Supreme Court over the years.
South Carolina law allows dram shop claims where the vendor sold alcohol to:
- an underaged customer
- someone who was intoxicated
To have a successful claim, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The vendor served alcohol to the customer
- The customer was intoxicated at the time they were served
- As a result of being served alcohol, the customer caused injuries to another person
If a drunk driver has injured you, and you believe the driver was served alcohol illegally, you may have a dram shop claim. These claims can be complex, and it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of James E. Taylor have handled many dram shop cases successfully. We are ready to help you with your case.
Social Host Liability in South Carolina
Many states, such as North Carolina, hold social hosts accountable if they provide alcohol to a guest who injures someone else. A social host may include:
- a homeowner who has a party and serves alcohol to guests
- a business that hosts an event where alcohol is served
South Carolina has no specific social host liability laws. This means that, even if you were injured by a drunk driver who was served alcohol at a private party, the social host could not be held liable.
Social Host Liability in South Carolina for Minors
Suppose a social host intentionally serves a person under 21 years old. In that case, the host is liable to the minor and any third person harmed due to the minor’s intoxication. However, the law is vague on whether a host who negligently serves alcohol to a minor can be held liable.
Establishing Fault in Dram Shop Cases
To file a claim for injuries caused by overserving alcohol, the criminal statutes and South Carolina’s common law of negligence are applied. The claim must show that the establishment continued to serve alcohol to someone they knew was intoxicated.
Bartenders and servers can also be liable if they serve an intoxicated person. South Carolina courts have stated that the customer does not have to show visible intoxication for a bartender to know that someone is intoxicated or that the person was underage.
In 2017, the South Carolina legislature passed a law stating that all establishments serving alcohol must carry a $1 million liquor liability insurance. This law helps attorneys recover damages for their clients.
What Are My Other Options for Filing a Claim Against a Drunk Driver?
If the drunk driver who hit you is insured, you may be able to recover compensation through their insurance policy. If the driver does not have insurance or their policy is insufficient to cover your damages, you may need to file a claim through your uninsured motorist coverage.
If neither the drunk driver nor their insurance company is willing to provide adequate compensation, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Contact the South Carolina attorneys at The Law Offices of James E. Taylor today for a free consultation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims involving drunk drivers is three years from the date of the accident. You have three years to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. You will likely be barred from recovery if you do not file your lawsuit within this time frame.
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule. If the injured party is a minor, they have up to one year from their 18th birthday to file a claim. Additionally, if the negligent party is the state or one of its agencies, you must file within two years.
Damages Available in a Personal Injury Claim
If you are successful in your personal injury claim, you may be able to recover a variety of damages. These may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Contact us today for a free consultation. We will review your case and help you understand your legal options.
Contact a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor Today
If a drunk driver has injured you, the experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor can help. We value the attorney-client relationship and will review your case and help you understand your legal options. We serve clients in Fort Mill, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Rock Hill, and throughout South Carolina. Contact us today for a free consultation.