Can a Bar or Restaurant Be Held Liable in a South Carolina Drunk Driving Crash?

It is well known that a crash victim can file a personal injury claim against a drunk driver. However, not everyone is aware that bars, restaurants, and even liquor stores can be held responsible if they provided alcohol before a South Carolina drunk driving crash. Many states have dram shop and social host liability laws to govern situations in which someone serves alcohol to an intoxicated driver who goes on to injure others. “Dram shop” is an old term referring to a bar or tavern. In the old days, alcohol was sold by a unit called a dram. Social host liability extends to private individuals who may host an event at their home.


South Carolina doesn’t have these specific laws. However, the courts allow injury victims to seek compensation from businesses that overserve motorists. If you were involved in an accident and the at-fault party was over-served, you may be entitled to compensation from the bar or restaurant. You will need to hire a South Carolina drunk driving crash attorney to help you recover your losses.


You can seek compensation by showing an establishment broke one of the laws relating to the sale of alcohol. S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580(1) bars the sale of alcohol to people under 21 while S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(2) makes it unlawful to sell alcohol to an intoxicated individual. Using these and other criminal laws as well as common law relating to negligence, you may be able to recover your losses.

Why You May Want to Go After a Commercial Establishment


Usually, if another driver crashes into you and you suffer injuries, you would seek compensation from their insurer. However, if your injuries are serious, the driver may not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all your losses. Motorists in South Carolina must have at least $25,000 in bodily injury insurance and many drivers purchase this amount and no more. Given the cost of healthcare, this may not be sufficient.


In contrast, places that sell alcohol for on-premises consumption must have a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance. If you get involved in an accident that results in significant losses, your car accident lawyer in Greenville, SC may look to see if someone may have overserved the driver. This would provide an additional avenue for compensation and make it more likely that you would recover the full value of your claim.


Your attorney will have to move quickly to investigate how the driver came to be intoxicated before the South Carolina drunk driving crash. On a night out, people often bar-hop or consume some of their own alcohol during the night. Your lawyer will have to prove that a server or bartender knowingly served an underage driver or a person who was visibly intoxicated. This may be difficult since it is not uncommon for bar staff to say that a patron didn’t appear intoxicated.


To prove otherwise, your lawyer will likely review surveillance video, interview witnesses, and analyze receipts from the night in question. This will all help to paint a picture of what happened. Often, patrons will remember an individual who was visibly intoxicated so eyewitness testimony can be very important. Lawyers also look for evidence of negligence on the part of anyone involved. These types of cases can be difficult to win but with help from an attorney, you can have a successful claim.


Sometimes, establishments and/or individual staff members will be held criminally responsible for their actions. These fines and charges are separate from the civil lawsuit that can be brought by the victim of a South Carolina drunk driving crash. However, if there’s proof that a bar or restaurant broke the law, this can strengthen your case.


Contact Hernandez & Cabra Today to Get Expert Legal Advice


If you were injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you need to be aware of all your legal options. Filing a personal injury claim against the driver isn’t the only way to get compensation. Despite South Carolina’s lack of dram shop laws, the existing laws can be used to hold a bar, restaurant or club responsible if they overserved the driver or otherwise acted negligently.


Don’t try to handle your case on your own. Call the Greenville car accident attorneys at Hernandez & Cabra and schedule a free consultation. We’ll listen to your account of what happened, do our own investigations, and offer you advice based on our experience and knowledge. If you hire us, we’ll do everything we can to get you fair compensation.