Some states have laws that make bars and restaurants liable if they serve a guest too much alcohol and the guest then gets in a car and hurts someone. These are called dram shop laws.
In South Carolina, there is not a specific dram shop law on the books. But, South Carolina courts have traditionally allowed people injured by drunk drivers to seek compensation from a bar or restaurant that continued to serve the drunk driver after they were visibly intoxicated.
Bars and restaurants can be held liable for serving drunk drivers who cause car crashes in SC, and your drunk driving accident attorney at Axelrod and Associates may be able to help you to recover substantial damages in these cases. What about when someone at a private residence or a company-sponsored party serves alcohol to a drunk person who then drives home?
Can I Sue the Person Who Gave Alcohol to a Drunk Driver at a Party?
Of course, bars and restaurants are not the only places people are allowed to drink too much and then get behind the wheel. What about parties?
Some states have social host laws that hold people liable for serving too much alcohol to someone who then causes injury to someone else - even if the booze was served at a party in a private residence or other non-commercial location.
But, in South Carolina, social hosts cannot be held liable if the intoxicated person is an adult. If someone serves alcohol to a person younger than 21 - even at a private party - they can be held liable for any injuries the minor causes. But, if they serve someone 21 or older and that person causes an injury, the host cannot be held liable.
Of course, most "social hosts" couldn't afford to compensate the victim of a DUI accident, anyway. Homeowner's insurance is not likely to cover catastrophic injuries caused by someone who got drunk at your house...
Can Companies Be Held Liable for The Actions of Drunk Guests?
What about company parties?
Companies have money, and they often have liability insurance that might cover this kind of accident. They might have the resources to cover the costs of DUI injuries, but a ruling by the SC Court of Appeals makes it clear that they cannot be held liable.
In Garren v. Cummings and McCrady, Inc., the court said: "Although the precise question has never been decided in South Carolina, the weight of authority supports the view that a social host is not liable at common law for the service of alcohol to an intoxicated person who subsequently injures a third party."
The plaintiff in the case was injured by a driver who became intoxicated at a party hosted by Cummings and McCrady, left in his car, crossed the center line, and crashed into another vehicle.
So, if the company that threw the party isn't liable in SC, who is? The court was clear on that: "The proper remedy for a third party injured as a result of the guest's intoxication is to sue the guest who injured him."
If you were injured by a drunk driver in SC, we may be able to sue the bar or other establishment that provided the alcohol. When it was a private residence or corporate-sponsored party, however, there is no dram shop liability in SC unless the drunk driver was under the age of 21.
Your Myrtle Beach DUI-accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to determine who is liable and whether there are potential third-party sources of recovery in addition to the drunk driver's insurance policy. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.