It may come as a surprise to victims of drunk drivers, but you may be able to sue the place and person who allowed that drunk driver to become drunk. These types of lawsuits are called dram shop lawsuits.
Dram shop laws
Nearly every state has dram shop laws that allow victims of drunk drivers to sue a person or business that allowed that person to drink to excess. Specifically, lawsuits against businesses, like bars and restaurants are called dram shop claims, and for nonbusiness entities, it is called a social host liability claim, like someone who threw a Marion party.
South Carolina’s take
While our state allows dram shop claims, there is not a specific dram shop statute. However, these claims are allowed by our state’s Supreme Court. Specifically, the person at issue must either have been underage or intoxicated. The drunk driving victim (or their surviving family) must show that the illegal sale or excessive sale of alcohol caused the Myrtle Beach injuries and accident.
Back in 2021, there was a fatal motor vehicle accident on Hilton Head bridge. Multiple dram shop lawsuits were filed against the Boardroom bar on Greenwood Drive in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Each of these plaintiffs argued that the bar was at fault because they negligently served the patron that eventually caused the fatal car accident. After the business’s insurance company paid out, they dropped the bar and they ultimately had to close because they could not find additional insurance coverage.
Our state’s legislature has built-in protection for both these businesses and the potential victims of their negligence. In 2017, they mandated that any business that serves alcohol past 5:00 p.m. must have $1 million or more in liquor liability insurance. This means that the victims of Conway, South Carolina, bar negligence have, at least, this six-figure recourse.