Car accidents caused by impaired drivers are preventable, which makes them especially tragic if victims suffer serious injuries or deaths. Drivers could have avoided the accidents by not getting drunk. These drivers can be held accountable for the consequences of their choice to get behind the wheel impaired. Victims and family members of drunk driving car accident victims can pursue injury or wrongful death claims.
Increasingly, however, it is not just drivers who are being held accountable for car accidents when someone has too much to drink. According to Island Packet, an increasing number of injured victims are pursuing claims against bars which served alcohol to someone who later was involved in a drunk driving accident.
Suing a bar can result in more compensation for car accident losses than might be available from pursuing a claim against a driver only. Bars need to be aware of this trend and make sure they are careful regarding who they serve, while crash victims and their families need to know of the trend so they can determine if this is an option in trying to get compensation for their own damages.
According to Island Packet: "Across South Carolina, relatives of people killed by drivers who've become intoxicated in the state's bars and restaurants are suing, alleging those establishments knowingly kept on serving alcohol to someone... who was unfit to drive."
One example is a case of a 19-year-old woman who was killed after a motorcycle accident caused by an intoxicated motorcycle driver. The driver of the motorcycle was convicted of driving under the influence as well as convicted of reckless homicide. He is currently serving a five year sentence in South Carolina State prison. As the motorcyclist who caused the deadly accident serves his time, the family of the 19-year-old who was killed in suing the bar which served the motorcyclist.
The President of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has indicated most drinking establishments statewide are aware they could be sued for serving to someone intoxicated, and know they can and should do better in training staff to monitor signs a customer is too drunk to be served.
Best practices for training staff include providing education to those who work in bars on not only checking IDs for age, but also on identifying signs someone is too drunk and politely finding ways to decline to serve. Unfortunately, there are only a few public and private programs currently providing training programs, but the training programs are voluntary and very few people us them. While 17 states mandate safe alcohol service training for employees who work in driving establishments, South Carolina is not one of those states.
There was a proposal for a law called Alli's law last year which would have set minimum training requirements on identifying intoxication and stopping service, but the proposal did not progress through the legislative session. Without training, it may be difficult for staff to know when to cut someone off, which means crashes which could potentially be prevented won't be. Lives will be lost and bars could be held responsible.