Columbia Dram Shop Liability Lawyer

Have you been hurt by someone who shouldn’t have been served at a bar or restaurant? You may receive financial compensation under South Carolina dram shop laws. Talk to a Columbia dram shop liability lawyer at Shealey Law Firm today to begin your case.

If you are hurt by a person who was overserved at a bar, restaurant or tavern, the establishment may be liable to pay compensation. In addition, if you are hurt by a minor under 21 years old who was served at a bar, restaurant or tavern, the establishment may be liable to pay compensation.

The term for legal liability based on an establishment serving someone improperly is called dram shop liability.

Experienced Dram Shop Case Lawyers in Columbia, SC

At Shealey Law Firm, our legal team understands the role that establishments have in causing harm when they overserve patrons. A Columbia dram shop liability lawyer can help you pursue all avenues for you to receive compensation.

To see how we can help you, contact us to ask for your free consultation.

Why Do We Have Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina?

When an intoxicated person causes an injury, they may not be the only one to blame. If only a bar or restaurant hadn’t served the person too much alcohol, the injury may have never occurred. Dram shop laws are meant to protect the public and minimize the risk that intoxicated people hurt others and themselves.

What kinds of injuries may have dram shop liability?

  • Drunk driving
  • Car accidents
  • Assault and battery
  • Disorderly jostling

Car accidents are one type of injury that may lead to dram shop liability, but there are several incidents that may occur because of overserving. For example, a person may become unsteady and cause someone else to trip. They may commit an assault and battery. Any personal injury that results from the establishment serving too much may create dram shop liability.

South Carolina Dram Shop Law

South Carolina’s dram shop law is S.C. Code § 61-4-580. A violation of the law includes the following elements:

  • The holder of a permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine
  • Knowingly
  • On the premises covered by the permit
  • Selling beer or wine to an intoxicated person, or selling beer or wine to a person under 21
  • Actions of a permit holder, servant, agent or employee may make the permit holder liable

The dram shop law has two primary prohibitions. The first is knowingly selling alcohol to an intoxicated person. The law doesn’t require the person to be visibly intoxicated, only that the server knowingly sells to an intoxicated person. Second, the establishment may not sell alcohol to a person who is under 21.

Most states have dram shop laws. There are minor differences between them.

Civil cause of action for dram shop law liability

S.C. Code § 61-4-580 doesn’t explicitly say that victims have a right to claim compensation if they are hurt by an intoxicated person. However, the courts have said that the law implies the right to sue.

Dram Shop Cases in South Carolina

South Carolina has several cases discussing dram shop liability.

Hartfield v. Getaway Lounge Grill Inc., 388 S.C. 407 (2010) – The intoxicated person stopped at three bars over several hours. They left the third bar, drove a vehicle and struck a person. The victim was seriously injured, spending 10 months in the hospital including six months in a coma. The victim had lasting injuries including memory difficulties. The court said that a third party injured by a person who has been improperly served may pursue a civil action against the vendor.

Daley v. Ward, 303 S.C. 81 (1990) – A person drank nine beers over a 4-5 hour period. Bartenders said that they did not remember serving the person. The victim was rear-ended by the intoxicated person. The court said that a civil action is allowed because the goal of the law is to promote public safety. The court said that the class of person protected should include third parties injured by the actions of an intoxicated person.

Christiansen v. Campbell, 285 S.C. 164 (1985) – A person left the bar in an intoxicated condition. They then attempted to cross the street. They were hit by a car and seriously injured. The court said that the law is meant to protect the public, including protecting the intoxicated person from themselves. The court allowed the intoxicated person to bring a claim against the vendor for serving them while intoxicated.

Dram Shop Liability FAQs

What is the statute of limitations on dram shop claims in SC?

The statute of limitations on dram shop claims in South Carolina is three years. It is the same time limit used for other personal injury cases. The law is stated in S.C. Code § 15-3-530.

Why are they called dram shop laws?

A dram shop is an establishment that serves alcohol. Historically, units of alcohol were measured in drams for serving. Typically, a dram measured 3/4 of a teaspoon, but it varied locally. As states created laws for establishments serving alcohol, they called the laws dram shop laws.

Talk to a Dram Shop Liability Lawyer

To receive compensation under dram shop liability, you must identify the establishment that served the person and prove what happened. Sometimes, there are multiple causes of an injury. More than one party may share blame. A bar, restaurant, tavern or other vendor may be held accountable for improperly serving someone when the overserving causes injury. Improperly serving may include knowingly serving an intoxicated person or serving someone under the age of 21.

At Shealey Law Firm, we are experienced litigators. We carefully investigate your case and build the evidence for compensation. We can represent you through the claims process.

To talk to a dram shop lawyer in Columbia, contact Shealey Law Firm today to discuss your case and begin today.


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