The South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, area, in particular, has more than its fair share of bars and other establishments that serve alcohol. These businesses have a responsibility to their patrons and the general public not to over-serve, yet it happens anyway. If a drunk driver, recently served alcohol at a bar or restaurant, hit you, you may seek compensation for your losses by filing claims against the establishment.
What makes it possible to file claims against alcohol vendors? Why go after the establishment? What is necessary to be successful in court when filing claims against bars or restaurants?
Dram shop laws
South Carolina has dram shop laws. It is these laws that allow victims of DUI-related accidents or -- in the event of fatality -- their surviving family members to file civil actions against alcohol vendors on top of any claims they file against the drivers responsible. Why pursue such actions? It allows victims or their families to achieve greater compensation for their losses if their claims are successful.
Elements needed to win a dram shop claim
As with any civil case, there are certain elements that must exist in order to win a dram shop claim in court. If you wish to pursue this type of claim, you need to be ready to prove the following:
- Proof that the driver who hit you purchased alcohol from the establishment in question.
- Proof that you or a loved one suffered injuries in the accident.
- Proof that the sale of alcohol directly contributed to the responsible party's intoxication.
- Evidence that the establishment over-served the responsible party.
It can take time to obtain all of the information needed to establish these elements in court. An experienced attorney will know what questions to ask to whom and where to look for the evidence needed to pursue dram shop claims.
Not an option in every case
Dram shop claims are not an option in every drunk driving-related accident case. For example, if a person buys alcohol from a vendor, consumes it at home and then gets behind the wheel of a car, that is not necessarily the establishment's fault. These laws are in place to keep vendors such as bars and restaurants from over-serving their patrons.
If a drunk driver, who had recently left an establishment at which he or she was consuming alcohol, proceeded to hit you or your loved one with his or her vehicle, dram shop claims on top of any other legal claims may apply to your case. By filing all applicable civil claims in court, you can seek maximum relief for your losses.