Who Pays for a DUI Accident?
As outlined below, commercial alcohol providers often pay for DUI accidents. Quite simply, under South Carolina’s dram shop law, if a bar, restaurant, or other provider is responsible for a patron’s intoxication, that establishment is responsible for any injuries that patron negligently causes. This law could apply in a few other situations as well.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of alcohol-related crashes had leveled off. But during the pandemic, because roads emptied, motorists took more risks, including drinking and driving. Several years after pandemic lockdowns ended, this bad habit persists.
The duty of care requires motorists to be at their best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, before they get behind the wheel. If a breach of duty, like alcohol impairment, causes injury, a Columbia dram shop injury lawyer can obtain compensation for victims in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
First Party Liability
Alcohol providers are responsible for these damages if a Columbia personal injury lawyer proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver was negligent.
In terms of evidence, the police accident report is often the cornerstone in a personal injury claim. That’s especially true if an experienced emergency responder prepared the report, or multiple agencies contributed to it.
If these things aren’t true, the report might be weak evidence. Inexperienced emergency responders often cannot put all the pieces of evidence together in these cases. Furthermore, a multi-agency investigation usually means a long inquiry and a detailed report. Single-agency reports aren’t much more than conclusory summaries.
A weak report might be enough to establish first party liability, but it might not be enough to obtain maximum compensation. Fortunately, other kinds of evidence, like witness statements and security camera footage, are also available.
First party liability is easier to establish if emergency responders cited the tortfeasor (negligent driver) for DUI. These tortfeasors could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Third Party Liability
South Carolina’s dram shop law usually applies if the tortfeasor was visibly intoxicated at the time of sale. Evidence of visible intoxication includes:
- Physical Symptoms: By themselves, bits of evidence like bloodshot eyes, slow reflexes, and slurred speech don’t establish intoxication. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Tortfeasor’s Statements: Many people treat bartenders like personal confidants. Additionally, when people have had a little too much to drink, their inhibitions disappear and they speak freely about many subjects, including their own intoxication.
- Prior Purchases: This proof might be the most compelling proof of intoxication. Three or four drinks are enough to intoxicate most people. Furthermore, many bartenders are trained to cut people off after this many drinks. But to keep making money, they often keep the drinks flowing.
The dram shop law also applies to other illegal sales, such as underage sales and unlicensed sales.
Work With a Thorough Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.