Drunk Driving Accidents & NC’s Dram Shop Liability

NC Auto Accident Attorney Explains Dram Shop Laws

Drunk driving accidents are responsible for a significant amount of automobile crashes that result in serious injury or death.  When serious injuries occur, often the drunk driver that caused the accident has insufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the victim.  In North Carolina, many drivers carry the minimum mandatory coverage, which is $30,000 per claimant, per accident.  For serious injuries, the mandatory minimum insurance coverage may not be enough to cover the medical expenses alone.  In such situations, you or your attorney should seek alternative sources of recovery.  If your policy contains underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, this could be an additional source of recovery.  Additionally, dram shop laws help ensure that victims are able to recover compensation from bars and restaurants who share responsibility for causing the accident, and who likely have enough insurance coverage to pay the injury claim.  Further, social host liability may apply in situations where a person or company serves the drunk driver too much at a party or gathering. 

Dram Shop Laws Make Bars and Businesses Liable for Serving Intoxicated or Underage Individuals

Under North Carolina’s Dram Shop Act, restaurants and bars can be held liable if they serves alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated and that person subsequently injures or kills someone in an automobile accident.  A restaurant or bar can also be held liable if it serves alcohol to a minor who subsequently injures or kills someone in a car accident.  In order to establish liability under North Carolina’s Dram Shop Act, you must prove that the restaurant or bar was negligent, which was a proximate cause of the injury.  Because dram shop liability can be difficult to prove without an early investigation, it is highly advisable to see a skilled automobile accident attorney as soon as possible.

Examples of Dram Shop Liability Cases

  • This year, in a second dram shop lawsuit against the same bar, a former North Carolina legislator who was seriously injured in a crash due to the negligence of a drunk driver, sued the bar that served alcohol to one of the drivers involved in the accident. 
  • In 2012, a family in Charlotte won a $1.7 million verdict against a bar called Eddie’s Place, after one of its customers injured a couple and killed their unborn child while driving drunk from the bar.  At the time of the collision he was traveling 90 mph in a 35 mph zone.  The bar served the driver 10 drinks within a two-hour and ten-minute period.   
  • In 2008, a bar and restaurant in downtown Winston-Salem called 6th & Vine reached a settlement with the family of a pedestrian who was hit and killed by former television news anchor Tolly Carr, who had been drinking and driving. 
If you or a loved one were injured in a drunk driving accident, our Raleigh personal injury lawyer may be able to help you and your family recover fair compensation and justice against the responsible parties.  Contact our personal injury attorney at (919) 348-7727 for a free consultation.

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