What Is Dram Shop Liability in South Carolina?

November 15, 2021
pouring beer from tap

If you were recently struck by a drunk driver, the associated damages are probably adding up fast. Your medical bills alone can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if you sustained life-threatening injuries that demanded emergency care.

Tack on lost wages, property repairs, and replacement services, and it quickly becomes clear how the consequences of drunk driving and related injuries are enough to threaten most people’s financial security. While you may be planning on filing a claim with the drunk driver’s auto insurer to recoup such losses, there’s a good chance they don’t have enough coverage to yield adequate compensation.

In South Carolina, after all, motorists are only required to purchase $25,000 per person and  $50,000 total in bodily injury liability per accident. That may not even make a dent in the damages you incur.

Thankfully, there might be another avenue of compensation for those who get hurt in the Palmetto State. South Carolina recognizes “dram shop “liability, which essentially holds establishments responsible for serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons who later go on to cause injuries by driving drunk.

In order to hold a bar or restaurant liable for a drunk driving injury, victims typically have to prove the establishment sold alcohol to the motorist, who must have been either underage or intoxicated at the time of purchase. The law presumes that a person who has a blood alcohol level over the legal limit (.08 in South Carolina) is intoxicated.  Of course, a claimant must also prove the intoxicated driver is at least 51% at fault for the wreck.   

How Long Do I Have to Take Action Against an Establishment on the Grounds of Dram Shop Liability?

Like other personal injury claims, those involving dram shop liability have strict filing deadlines. In South Carolina, the typical statute of limitations for this kind of tort action is usually three years. That means victims likely have 36 months from the date on which they were hurt to file a formal lawsuit against the establishment that served the drunk driver who struck them.

The three-year deadline applies to wrongful death actions, as well. If your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, your family probably has three years to commence the civil proceedings.

This may seem like plenty of time to organize the materials necessary to file a case, but it will pass quickly. What’s more, there are several exceptions to the statute. As such, it’s wise to call an experienced dram shop injury attorney as soon as possible.

Enlisting legal help right away will ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines. It will also give your lawyer the chance to gather time-sensitive evidence while it’s still available.

Discuss Your Claim with a Car Accident Attorney in South Carolina

If you were hurt in a drunk driving accident, turn to Hodge & Langley Law Firm for help pursuing the maximum payout possible from all those who played a role in the wreck. Backed by more than 50 years of collective experience, our team has secured numerous six- and seven-figure dram shop settlements on behalf of our valued clients. To set up your free case review with a car accident lawyer in South Carolina, complete our Contact Form or call 864-585-3873.

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