Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other businesses that serve alcohol have a legal responsibility to refrain from serving intoxicated costumers alcohol. When businesses break the law, dram shop and social host liability statutes come into play. When an innocent person is injured because an establishment continued to serve an inebriated guest, that business can be held accountable. Doing so can be challenging for the injured party without the help of a Columbia dram shop liquor liability lawyer.
Every state recognizes alcohol-related accidents differently. If, for example, a person is injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina, they can file a personal injury claim against the driver in civil court. An additional claim can also be brought against the bar, restaurant, or establishment that sold the alcohol to the driver.
Dram Shop Liability in South Carolina
South Carolina recognizes dram shop claims; however, the state does not have specific dram shop laws. Instead, claims are authorized by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The claims are civil, so the liability of the defendant can only be expressed in terms of monetary damages. The most common law used in dram shop cases is S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580, which prohibits the sale of alcohol persons under the age of 21 and the sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person.
One of the reasons dram shop claims are in place is to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. Bars are supposed to stop serving customers who are obviously or visibly intoxicated. While bodies process alcohol differently based on weight, sex, food consumption, and more, clear signs of inebriation include slurred speech, glassy, bloodshot eyes, impaired fine-motor skills, slowed reaction time, incoherent speech, and impaired judgment.
Filing a successful claim means doing so on time. In South Carolina, dram shop claims must be filed within three years of the date of injury. Neglecting to meet the deadline could mean dismissal and ineligibility for compensation. Your attorney will ensure that doesn’t happen, so long as you begin the filing process as soon as possible after the accident.
Social Host Liability
Social host liability is a subsection of dram shop liability. This only exists in South Carolina in the event the intoxicated person who injures someone else is under 21—the legal drinking age. A claim cannot exist if the inebriated person was over that age. There are laws that impose criminal penalties on social hosts who let or help minors drink, but typically only specific circumstances apply. For example, it’s a misdemeanor to violate the state’s underage drinking law in a rented hotel room or other lodging establishment.
Proving Dram Shop Liability in Columbia
The key to a successful dram shop liability case is proving the establishment or individual knew the customer should not have been served. As experienced lawyers, there are a number of strategies and investigative steps we can employ to do so.
It’s important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident so a proper investigation can be started. The longer you wait, the less likely there is to be convincing evidence. We may be able to get access to surveillance videos from the business, credit card transactions from when the negligent person was served, receipts, documentation related to criminal proceedings or arrest records, and witness statements.
With the information above, we’ll be able to build a case that proves the establishment that served the person who caused your accident did so wrongfully. Once we’ve proven liability, we can begin to focus on reaching a full and fair settlement agreement. Doing so can be challenging, but we have experience fighting for what our clients deserve.
Dram Shop Liquor Liability Damages
Because dram shop claims are civil cases, you can seek compensation for economic and noneconomic losses. Economic damages are calculable and based on real financial losses, while noneconomic losses are based on the effects and implications of the accident.
One of the most highly sought economic damages is medical expenses. Even a minor injury can result in extensive hospital bills—especially if emergency services were called and you were taken to a medical facility via an ambulance. A fair settlement will cover those costs and ease your recovery process by providing for the future cost of care.
If you needed to take time off work because of your injuries, you can also seek lost wages. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation that covers future earnings. Property damage is another common economic loss. Your settlement could cover vehicle repair or replacement costs if you were in a drunk driving accident.
Noneconomic damages are mostly based on the concept of pain and suffering. Injuries can burden victims with physical and emotional pain, which can take a toll on how a person is able to enjoy life or work. No matter what your losses are, we won’t settle for less than you deserve.
Working with an Experienced Law Firm
The skilled lawyers from Solomon Law Group have been protecting the rights of injured accident victims for years. We recover significant losses for our clients, so they can move forward with their lives. While we understand that compensation won’t reverse what happened, it will give you a chance to approach the future with certainty.
Regardless of the accident that caused your injuries, if dram shop laws apply to your case we can help. Schedule a meeting with a Columbia dram shop liquor liability lawyer. They’ll review the facts of your case and begin the process of building a strong claim against the negligent party. Pursuing compensation and justice can be challenging, but we’re prepared to take your case on.
Working with Solomon Law Group gives you the opportunity to focus more on your recovery. We’ll handle the legal matters while making sure you understand what’s happening every step of the way. To learn more about the process or to get started with a claim, reach out to our office today.