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  • Andrew Littlejohn Johnson

Bar/Restaurant Over-Serving Alcohol

If you were injured in a South Carolina car accident due to a drunk driver, there is a chance a third party bears liability for your injuries. It's important to explore this avenue for a variety of reasons, mainly (1) to help you obtain full recovery and (2) to put an end to any wrongful actions by a business serving alcohol.

What are South Carolina's Dram Shop Laws

"Dram shop" is the old name for an establishment that served "drams" of alcohol. Nowadays, it refers to liability involving an establishment that over-serves alcohol.

No specific South Carolina dram shop statute exists. However, you are not out of luck if you were injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina. Our state has laws that prohibit serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person (based upon things like the patron's appearance, attitude, balance, behavior, and speech). Additionally, our state has judicially-created laws (from state courts) that define the liability of businesses that injure the public due to improper hiring, supervision, and retention of employees. Within these theories, you may be able to recover from one of the following establishments in a dram shop case:

  • bar

  • restaurant

  • nightclub

  • movie theatre

  • hotel

  • venue/arena

Who is Liable for my Injuries Caused by a Drunk Driver

First, and as most jurors will tell you, the drunk driver is liable for hurting you. This, of course, makes sense. S/he drove drunk, so s/he is responsible. However, liability does not begin and end with the at-fault driver.

Second, the business who served the individual may bear liability. Proving an establishment's liability in this type of case should not be difficult for an experienced South Carolina dram shop lawyer.

I have had many people, including family members, ask, "How can a business be liable for a drunk driver?" The answer is easy: if the bar had not served that person more alcohol, my client would still be alive/not injured. You can get into hypotheticals all you want (e.g., "the driver would have drank alcohol somewhere else"), but we deal in facts. The bar over-served a driver, the driver caused a wreck with my client, and my client is injured. Take out any of those three facts, and we won't consider the dram shop angle. With all, we pursue all angles.

Proving a Dram Shop Case

A dram shop case is proven through a multitude of evidence we gather:

  • bar tabs

  • credit/debit card receipts

  • police reports

  • videos

  • social media

  • pictures

  • bartender testimony

  • serving training materials

  • personnel files

No one piece of evidence makes or breaks a case involving over-serving. Instead, we work tirelessly to obtain all related evidence. We then comb through it all to find out (1) what went wrong the day of the wreck and (2) what does this business do that creates the opportunity for such wrongful conduct.

This evidence comes from subpoenaing financial records of the driver and bar; researching the at-fault driver and other patrons on the date of the incident; obtaining video footage from the bar; deposing under oath the bartenders, waiters, and management; discovering the personnel files of all bartenders (to look at past incidents and hiring documents); and discovering all training materials from the bar (to determine whether they (1) existed and/or (2) are outdated). We build our liability case on this evidence.

Delving into these records, training materials, videos, statements, and other evidence shows that this was not a one-time event. The bartenders were not properly trained, the management did not care about or know how to properly serve drinks, and/or the owners did not care about or know the applicable law.

Experienced Dram Shop Attorney

If you were injured in a drunk driving car wreck in South Carolina, reach out to us today. Attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson looks forward to speaking with you and allowing you to focus on getting better while we help you obtain proper justice. It is important for us to not only help you, but also to stop these acts from happening. With every restaurant/bar that we help stop improperly serving alcohol, fewer lives are put at risk.


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