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Bar Owners Being Held Accountable for Drunk Driving Accidents

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

While many responsible bar owners have policies to cut off or refuse service to obviously inebriated customers, it is not uncommon to see someone who has had too much to drink continue to be served. Drunk driving is against the law, and the chances for being involved in an accident while under the influence is high. Injuries caused by drunk driving accidents are often severe, and even deadly. A recent South Carolina case highlights the serious repercussions for bar owners when they over serve their customers. Allowing someone to drink beyond the point of intoxication and then get behind the wheel of a car can result in tragedy, as well a financial liability for the bar owner.

Recent Judgment Against Bar Owner For Drunk Driving Accident

A South Carolina jury recently ordered a bar owner to pay $3.85 million in damages to the family of a young girl killed in a drink driving accident. The October 2015 judgment against a Columbia sports bar held the bar owner financially liable for the death of a young girl who was killed by a drunk driver. The driver had been obviously intoxicated when he entered the sports bar yet the bartender continued to serve him, despite the fact that he was already drunk and it was past the bar’s mandatory 2:00 a.m. closing time. When the driver left the bar several hours later, he ran a red light and smashed into the car of a Lexington family who was headed to church. The family’s six-year-old daughter was killed instantly. The verdict was an acknowledgement that bars can and should be held liable for their part in contributing to the incidence of drunk driving accidents.

Dram Shop Laws: Holding Bar Owners Accountable

Dram shop laws govern lawsuits against bar and restaurant owners for accidents caused by their patrons. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently 30 states with laws making bar owners liable for injuries and deaths caused by patrons. While South Carolina law does prohibit serving and selling alcoholic beverages to patrons who are obviously intoxicated, there are no formal statutes allowing the bar owner to be held liable. This does not mean establishment owners are off the hook though, as the Columbia case shows. Any establishment that serves or sells alcohol may be guilty of negligence for the following:

  • Serving or selling alcohol to someone who is underage
  • Serving or selling alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated
  • Serving or selling alcohol outside of state established times
  • Serving amounts of alcohol which could be reasonably expected to cause intoxication

Any of the above reasons are valid to support a claim for damages in the event that the person who was served or sold the alcohol causes injuries to themselves or others.

Contact an Experienced South Carolina Attorney

If you or a loved one has been hurt or injured as the result of a drunk driving accident, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm right away. Our experienced South Carolina car accident attorneys provide the aggressive legal representation necessary to hold responsible parties accountable and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free review of your case.


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