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Served Too Much to Drink: Who’s Responsible?

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in Criminal Defense, Dram Shop Liability | 0 comments

If you get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol, you’re the main person responsible for any damages that happen as a result of that decision. You’re likely to end up doing some jail time if you’re caught as well. However, I’ve recently learned that there is another party that could be partially responsible for DUI-related crashes. Bars are legally liable for what their patrons do once they leave a bar. That’s part of the reason that bartenders and servers must go through training on when to cut people off and not to over serve. These workers can face charges and lose their job if they serve alcohol to someone that is clearly intoxicated. There is a lot of regulation surrounding what bars can and cannot do, so I started to wonder if it’s possible to sue a bar after they’ve served someone too much to drink.

I stumbled upon the site for Evans Moore, LLC while reading about this subject online. At Evans Moore, LLC the attorneys work in what is called dram shop law. That means that they hold establishments responsible if they over serve and then their patrons leave and cause damage to another person. It turns out that the law does find those who over serve to be responsible, at least partially, for a resulting accident. In the state of South Carolina, where Evans Moore is located, there are no laws that specifically relate to dram shop liability. It is still possible, however, to sue on dram shop premises because of a prior case that ruled in the state. The South Carolina Supreme Court heard a case entitled Jameson v. The Pantry, Inc. The Pantry store sold alcohol to a person under twenty-one years old. Just one hour after the sale, the minor was driving with a blood-alcohol content that was much higher than the legal limit. He proceeded to cause an accident that killed some and injured several others. The Supreme Court allowed the injured parties to file a claim against the driver as well as The Pantry store. This ruling set the precedent that allows others to sue establishments in the state today.

This ruling protects accident victims much more than they previously were. If you were to be seriously injured in a wreck, it’s quite possible you would have hundreds of thousands in medical bills to pay. If you want to press charges against a driver, you may end up only being able to collect $25,000. This is because $25,000 is the minimum insurance coverage that a person needs to drive in the state. Minimum liability is astronomically higher for establishments like a bar though. If a business sells alcohol, they are required to have at least one million dollars worth of liability insurance. This liability would cover almost any hospital expenses, were you to find yourself injured due to a drunk driver and a dram shop. These laws vary by state quite a bit, but South Carolina is definitely a good state for these types of cases.

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