In North Carolina, drunk driving is illegal and people who drive when they are drunk are subject to both civil and criminal penalties. A drunk driver in North Carolina can be sued by the people he or she injures and can be made to pay damages. Unfortunately, sometimes the insurance and assets available to the drunk driver are not enough to sufficiently compensate the victim for all losses that resulted from the wreck.
Our Asheville personal injury attorneys want to make sure that auto accident victims are aware that there are other potential defendants in a drunk driving case. We also want to remind restaurants, bars and club owners that serving a drunk patron is illegal and that there are serious legal consequences for doing so, including the risk of being sued.
North Carolina Dram Shop Laws Protect Victims, Punish Bars Who Serve to Drunks
In North Carolina, laws exist called "dram shop" laws. These laws make it illegal for bars, restaurants or other social establishments to provide alcohol to certain individuals. For example, under § 18B‑305, it is illegal to sell or give alcohol to someone who is drunk. Under § 18B‑121, it is illegal to sell or give alcohol to someone under age 21.
Since bars and restaurants are prohibited from giving alcohol to patrons who are either drunk or under aged, the social establishments can be held legally liable if they break those laws. One recent verdict shows that the extent of this liability.
The $1.7 million verdict was reported by WCNC in Charlotte. The decision was rendered nearly two years after a serious drunk driving accident that occurred after a man was served 10 drinks at a local restaurant. The man left the restaurant and crashed his car into a couple, including a woman pregnant with a six-month old fetus. The drunk driver died at the accident scene and both husband and wife were seriously injured in the crash, requiring multiple surgeries. The unborn child also died.
The couple who was injured in the crash filed a lawsuit against the local restaurant for serving a drunk patron. The restaurant was found liable and ordered to pay $1.7 million -- a landmark verdict.
Restaurant Responsibility for Drunk Drivers
The large verdict under North Carolina's dram shop laws illustrates that restaurants and bars will be held accountable if they fail to follow the laws and if they serve a patron who is drunk. Drunk driving is incredibly dangerous for everyone involved and restaurants and bars should have policies in place to make sure patrons do not leave their establishment and drive home drunk. Dram shop laws encourage restaurants to take responsibility and may help to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths.
Victims of auto accidents caused by drunk drivers also need to be aware of these important laws, as sometimes taking action against the bar or restaurant is the only way to obtain full and fair compensation after a devastating drunk driving wreck.
Contact the Spartanburg personal injury attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. if you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident. We offer free consultations to injured consumers in the Carolinas. Call 1-800-887-1965 to speak to an injury lawyer today.
Carolina Accident Watch: 2012 Shaping up to be Deadly Year on the Road, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, September 25, 2012
Pregnant Mother Lost in North Carolina Car Accident, Baby Survives, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, September 10, 2012