Being injured in a motor vehicle crash is painful and traumatic. Suffering injuries in a drunk driving accident adds another layer of strong feelings to the experience.
An intoxicated driver is usually at fault for a wreck, so they will be responsible for paying your damages up to their insurance limit. But if your injuries are severe, they might not have enough insurance to cover the full extent of your losses.
A Walterboro dram shop liability lawyer could help you fill in this financial gap. The businesses and social hosts who serve alcohol to underage drinkers or intoxicated persons could owe you damages for their negligence. Consult with a well-practiced attorney at Whetstone Perkins & Fulda to discover whether a dram shop case could be viable in your circumstances.
Seeking Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident
Under South Carolina state law, the driver who was at fault in an accident pays the damages of anyone who suffered losses— and the drunk driver is almost always at-fault in a crash.
An injured person (plaintiff) could file a claim against the intoxicated driver’s insurance for their damages. Damages are the expenses the plaintiff incurred or will incur because of the wreck and losses due to their diminished quality of life after the accident. The plaintiff could collect monetary damages up to the defendant’s insurance coverage limits.
However, pursuant to South Carolina Statute § 38-77-140 drivers are only required to carry $25,000 in coverage for injuries to others. That amount would not cover the damages of a severely injured individual. A proactive Walterboro dram shop liability attorney could seek other sources of coverage, including from the business or social host that served the intoxicated driver.
Businesses and Hosts Must Serve Responsibly
South Carolina law prohibits a licensed establishment from serving alcoholic beverages to a clearly intoxicated person or someone underaged. If a business does so, they violate the law and are negligent. Consequently, the business could be found liable to someone who suffered injuries due to a customer’s intoxication.
The legal duty of care is not as far-reaching for a social host. However, if a social host serves alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age, the host could be liable if the young person injures someone due to their intoxication.
Bars and restaurants have commercial insurance policies with high coverage limits—at least $1,000,000 in most cases. Social hosts often have homeowner’s policies that could cover at least part of an injured party’s damages. By investigating where the drunk driver was before they crashed their vehicle, a diligent dram shop liability lawyer in Walterboro could identify potential sources of insurance coverage to help an injured plaintiff fully recover.
What You Must Prove to Win a Dram Shop Case
When a plaintiff brings an action asserting dram shop liability in Walterboro, their attorney must prove that the business owner negligently allowed the drunk driver to become intoxicated. The four elements of negligence include:
Businesses that serve alcohol have a legal duty not to serve someone who is underage or anyone showing signs of intoxication. Social hosts have a duty not to serve alcohol to anyone who is underage.
Breach of the Duty
The plaintiff and their lawyer must prove how the business or host failed in their duty. When suing a bar, a skilled attorney could present evidence establishing that the staff did not:
- Ask for proof of age before serving the drunk driver
- Take note of a patron’s intoxication and stop serving them
- Prevent a visibly intoxicated person from driving
A determined legal professional could find proof of the staff’s failure from surveillance video, witness testimony, credit card records, and other sources.
If the potentially liable party is a social host, proof that the drunk driver was under the legal drinking age and the host served them alcohol is all that is required.
The plaintiff and their attorney must prove the drunk driver’s intoxication was the cause of their injury. They could do this by proving the driver was legally intoxicated when the accident occurred. They also must show that the crash would not have happened but for the driver’s intoxication.
Drunk drivers almost always make mistakes resulting from impaired judgment or motor control. An experienced legal professional could establish the driver made such an error, and it led to the collision.
The plaintiff needs to prove that they suffered actual losses. In a drunk driving injury case, a plaintiff’s losses could include their medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering, and the accident’s other impacts on their finances and quality of life.
A Walterboro Dram Shop Liability Attorney Could Help You Recover Fully
Collecting appropriate damages after a drunk driving collision can be challenging. Dram shop liability allows you to pursue compensation from other parties whose negligence caused the accident that led to your injury.
A Walterboro dram shop liability lawyer at Whetstone Perkins & Fulda has experience handling such complicated claims. Call today to discuss your legal options with a seasoned attorney.