Who’s Responsible for a DUI Accident?

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While drivers are responsible for following the rules of the road, which includes not drinking and driving, this is not necessarily the end of the matter when it comes to DUI accident responsibility.

If a driver who is under the influence of alcohol leaves you or someone you love injured, don’t wait to consult with a dedicated Greenville DUI accident attorney. Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm has considerable success handling challenging cases that also may involve dram shop liability.

South Carolina Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop is a very old-fashioned sounding name for a bar, but it applies to any establishment that serves alcoholic drinks, and dram shop laws are in place to help hold alcohol vendors legally accountable when they play a role in drunk driving accidents.

While drivers have primary responsibility for their actions, including drinking and driving, dram shop laws ensure that those who play a pivotal part in a motorist’s impairment can also be found negligent.

The same holds true in terms of social host liability in South Carolina, which means that the hosts of parties and social gatherings can also bear responsibility for guests who overindulge and proceed to cause dangerous car accidents.

The Requirements for Dram Shop Liability

While South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop law in place, the state’s Supreme Court reliably upholds dram shop liability in accordance with the laws that regulate holders of liquor licenses.

As such, establishments may not serve alcoholic beverages in either of the following situations:

  • When the person is under the age of 21.
  • When the person is visibly intoxicated.

When a drinking establishment fails to uphold these basic requirements, partial responsibility can apply in relation to any accidents in which the underage person or the inebriated person served goes on to cause a car accident. In these situations, the party who is harmed by the drunk driver can seek compensation from the motorist’s insurance provider and from the insurance provider of the establishment, which helps to ensure that the full scope of their physical, financial, and emotional losses is covered.

Insurance Coverage for Establishments

It’s important to note that establishments selling alcoholic beverages in South Carolina are now required to carry personal injury coverage of at least $1 million. This requirement is intended to help ensure that any victims of drunk drivers the establishment served can obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.

Proving the Dram Shop’s Liability

To bring a successful dram shop liability claim, you’ll need to prove several elements.

Proximate cause

You must prove that the alcohol consumed at the establishment in question was a proximate cause – or a nearly direct cause – of the injuries that you sustained in the DUI accident. The best way to establish that the drinking was the proximate cause is if the driver in question is convicted of DUI in response to the accident.

Duty breached

Additionally, the establishment or staff that served the at-fault driver must have breached at least one of the following duties owed:

  • Requiring that proof of legal age be established prior to serving the customer alcohol
  • Identifying those customers who exhibit signs of intoxication
  • Refusing to serve underage or inebriated customers
  • Seeking safe rides home for inebriated customers

Reasonable knowledge

The establishment that either served or sold the alcohol to the drunk or underage driver who caused you to be injured must have reasonably known that they were either underage or drunk. Doing so includes taking all the following precautions:

  • Using critical judgment when examining a customer’s proof of age
  • Recognizing the obvious signs of intoxication, such as staggering when walking, slurring one’s speech, and passing out
  • Paying attention to how much alcohol customers are served

An Attorney Can Help Identify Who’s Responsible for a DUI Accident

While DUI accident claims are complicated enough, they become that much more so when they involve dram shop liability in addition to the driver’s primary responsibility. Your skilled DUI accident attorney can help in all the following important ways:

  • Gathering and analyzing all the evidence in your claim
  • Building a strong and compelling case against both the driver and the establishment that served them (as applicable)
  • Clearly communicating and skillfully negotiating with multiple insurance companies in focused pursuit of a just settlement that covers your complete losses
  • Being well prepared to move forward with a lawsuit if it becomes necessary to do so

Contact An Experienced Greenville DUI Accident Attorney to Help

At Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, we help injured clients like you recover on their physical, financial, and emotional losses against drunk drivers and the parties who overserved them. We are on your side and here to help. Please contact or call us at 864-280-7660 for more information today.

Drunk Driver Liability FAQs

Is a bar responsible for a drunk driver?

While a bar is not solely responsible for the actions of a drunk driver, the establishment can share responsibility for the losses the drunk driver causes if it fails to live up to its responsibility in the matter, which includes carding young customers and cutting off those customers who are overindulging.

Can the car manufacturer or those responsible for the road bear liability in DUI accident claims?

Car manufacturers and traffic engineers play a larger role in dangerous traffic accidents (including DUI accidents) than statistics would have us believe. Both can significantly contribute to life-threatening car accidents, and though rare, they can play a role in DUI accident claims.

How much will I receive in compensation for a DUI accident?

Your claim will be unique to the situation and the circumstances involved, including your ability to prove the driver and the dram shop’s liability in the matter. You can seek compensation for your complete losses in terms of all the following:

  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Your medical bills
  • Your lost income
  • Your pain and suffering

One of the most important steps you can take in the protection of your claim’s worth is working closely with an accomplished DUI accident attorney from the outset.

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