A serious car accident can be a life-changing experience. It can results in tens of thousands of dollars of medical treatment, disability and unquantifiable pain and suffering. An accident caused by a drunk driver can be even worse. This type of accident comes with the knowledge that the person who caused the accident knew what they were doing and engaged in extremely dangerous behavior regardless of the consequences. Some would say that this type of accident is, in fact, no accident at all. It is for these reasons that South Carolina treats drunk drivers who cause accidents differently.
Dram Shop Laws
South Carolina often follows principles set forth in a dram shop law, although there is not a specific law on the books that creates the rule. A dram shop law is simply a principle that allows victims who are injured to seek recompense from a third party (namely an establishment that serves alcohol and/or the person who actually serves the alcohol) for injuries incurred at the hands of a drunk driver. The theory behind this is twofold. First, in South Carolina, it is illegal to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. Second, a bar (through its employees) should be able to judge who should be served alcohol and who should not due to their position of being the establishment that is actually doing the service. To be held liable, the bar or bartender must have served a visibly intoxicated person. While this may seem a fairly subjective standard, it is true that there is no one better positioned to determine if a patron has had enough than the person who is serving them.
Finding liability through the dram shop law is important for drunk driving victims for several reasons. On a more global view, it serves as a deterrent to over-serving and is therefore a deterrent to drunk driving as a whole. More importantly to an individual victim, however, is the fact that bars and restaurants typically have larger insurance policies than your average driver. If a judgment is obtained, it is much more likely that the victim will receive a substantial portion of the money owed to them than otherwise would happen.
South Carolina courts have created such a law through precedent over the years but it is important to note, however, that South Carolina does not have a social host law. This type of law holds hosts liable if they over-serve their guests. This only applies in South Carolina when the guest is a minor.
Damages Against Drunk Drivers
South Carolina also allows victims to recover more from the driver that caused the accident. The law does this by allowing the award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are available in cases where personal injury is caused by willful, wanton or reckless conduct. This allows the victim to ostensibly recover compensatory damages that are due them and to also punish the offender who acted with such reckless disregard.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you need the best representation you can get. Obtaining an appropriate judgment in a case like this is often the product of diligent investigating and sound legal work. Dan Pruitt has over 20 years of experience representing accident victims just like you. Call him in South Carolina today at (846) 232-4273 to set up your free consultation today. Utilize his experience to get the results you deserve.