News & Events

SC Dram Shop Law: What Victims Need To Know

Posted: April 11, 2018

Generally, when people think about legal remedies for drunk driving accidents, they think of a criminal prosecution against the intoxicated driver for DUI. However, many times victims of drunk driving are unfamiliar with the legal rights they have in civil court against the establishments that enabled the driver to get drunk. These rights exist in an area of civil law referred to as “Dram Shop” law. Now, certain establishments in South Carolina that serve alcohol are even required by law to have insurance to cover victims’ injuries and damages in “Dram Shop” cases.

The term “Dram Shop” law has been used in South Carolina and other states to describe the nuanced area of tort law that is focused on civil liability in connection with the sale, service, and consumption of alcohol. Many times, dram shop litigation is pursued on behalf of victims of drunk driving and it holds bars and alcohol retailers financially accountable for the death, injury, or damages caused by the unsafe service of alcohol to customers who later injure the innocent.

In South Carolina, it is against the law for a commercial seller of alcohol to serve a patron who the server knew – or should have known – was already intoxicated. Unlike criminal cases, which are taken up against the driver for illegally driving while intoxicated, Dram Shop cases are tried in a civil court where the serving establishment is the defendant. Proving fault on behalf of the alcohol vendor is a difficult task, so representation by an attorney with experience in Dram Shop cases is critical.

Damages in these types of cases can compensate victims for past and future medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and property damage. Dram Shop cases have a statute of limitations and in most situations, must be commenced within three years of the incident. Additionally, in the event of a death, representatives of the deceased may file a case on the deceased victim’s behalf.

The attorneys at Yarborough Applegate have represented several victims of drunk driving against alcohol serving establishments and recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients. Please see our results page.


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