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Who Is Responsible When I Get Hit By A Drunk Driver In South Carolina?

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Cheryl F. Perkins - Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Cheryl F. Perkins

Located in Columbia, SCWhetstone Perkins & Fulda, LLC

Phone: 803-889-0865
Fax: 803-799-2017

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After a collision with a drunk driver, many assume that the intoxicated party assumes all responsibility for the accident. However, it may only begin there. After all, while the driver may have been in control of the car, their impairment often starts earlier on, at the hands of the server who poured the drinks.

Placing responsibility on an establishment can be a viable way to secure compensation. This is known as dram shop liability. Because establishments will attempt to deflect any responsibility away from themselves, reaching out to a qualified lawyer who is familiar with handling dram shop liability cases is important. 

The bar or other drinking establishment may try to claim it can’t keep anyone from driving. Or it may claim a patron tried to work around a server’s desire to cut them off. No matter what the situation, a qualified attorney can help prove the case.

How Dram Shop Liability Cases Can Work

Dram shop liability is all about proving that a patron was overserved. A critical first step is a tool called a “preservation letter.” The injured party’s lawyer sends out this letter to notify an establishment that it must lock down and retain any evidence surrounding the patron’s visit – everything from security footage to bar tabs to credit card receipts. This is one reason why timely action is a must in building the case against an establishment that served a visibly drunk person who later caused a collision.

Proof of dram shop liability may be based on “serve safe” programs most servers have to complete before they can serve customers. The program may establish that the server should have known better. Or the establishment may have simply hired and retained untrained servers.

Security footage can serve as an important piece of evidence. This typically low-quality video may not depict the finer nuances of drunken body language of the impaired patron. It may, however, show more drinks served to the patron than appear on the bar tab as some establishments may “comp” a few drinks for regulars.

Having an experienced legal professional by one’s side while pursuing these cases helps ensure the injured party can focus on recovery.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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