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Imagine this scenario: you’re driving home from a nice dinner in downtown Charleston, South Carolina when suddenly, a car slams into you. The driver, clearly intoxicated, is responsible for the accident. In the aftermath, you’re not only dealing with injuries and your vehicle being totaled but also facing the financial burden of mounting medical bills and lost wages. Holding the drunk driver accountable seems like the obvious choice.  Did you know that South Carolina’s dram shop laws could play a pivotal role in your quest for justice and compensation?

This comprehensive guide delves into the world of South Carolina dram shop laws. We’ll explore what these laws are, how they can help you if you’re a victim of an alcohol-related injury, what compensation you can seek, and more. Let’s start by unraveling these dram shop laws and understanding how they apply in the Palmetto State.

What is a Dram Shop Law?

You might already know that if you experience injuries and losses due to an accident someone else caused, you can pursue a claim against the at-fault for compensation. But dram shop laws provide a cause of action by the injured party against a bar or other alcohol vendor if the drunk driver became intoxicated on their premises.

In simpler terms, if you’re harmed by a drunk driver, South Carolina’s dram shop laws extend your options for seeking compensation. Instead of solely holding the intoxicated driver responsible, you can also investigate whether the establishment that served them alcohol bears any liability for your injuries and losses.

Does South Carolina Have a Dram Shop Act or Law?

South Carolina doesn’t have an official “Dram Shop Act”, but does have a series of statutes that provide protection to assure that the service of alcohol is done responsibly. These statutes allow for our courts to hear cases of injured persons who have been harmed by bars, restaurants, or other establishments that have over-served alcohol to drivers.

South Carolina may not have an identified dram shop act on the books, but the concept of dram shop liability is recognized in practice. In essence, this means that bars, clubs, and other establishments can be held legally responsible if they knowingly over-serve patrons who later cause accidents while under the influence.

When seeking advice after being injured by a drunk driver, one may consider consulting a dram shop lawyer near them who specializes in South Carolina’s Dram Shop Laws for potential compensation and justice.

How Much Insurance Do Bars in South Carolina Have to Have to Cover for Dram Shop Liability?

In South Carolina, bars and establishments that serve alcohol are required to have liability insurance, which includes coverage for these types of scenarios. The minimum coverage of liquor liability coverage mandated by law is at least 1 million dollars. This insurance serves as a financial safety net, ensuring that victims of accidents caused by intoxicated patrons can seek compensation for their injuries and damages.

In analyzing dram shop cases in South Carolina, it is crucial for individuals injured by drunk drivers to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable dram shop attorney to navigate the complexities of the state’s laws and pursue rightful compensation and justice.

Dram Shop Laws

How Can a Dram Shop Laws Help Me If I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver?

These dram shop laws can be a vital tool in your pursuit of justice and compensation after being hit by a drunk driver. Here’s how it can help:

Shared Responsibility:

Dram shop laws acknowledge that the responsibility for an alcohol-related accident doesn’t lie solely with the intoxicated driver. Establishments that negligently serve alcohol can also share the blame.

Expanded Avenues for Compensation:

By holding bars and other vendors accountable, dram shop laws provide you with additional sources of compensation. This can be especially crucial if the drunk driver lacks adequate insurance or personal assets to cover your damages.

Encouraging Responsible Service:

Dram shop laws encourage alcohol vendors to be more responsible in serving their patrons. Knowing they can be held liable for a drunk driver caused by their overservice, establishments should be more inclined to monitor alcohol consumption and avoid over-serving patrons.

If you have sustained injuries due to the actions of an intoxicated individual, consulting a skilled South Carolina Dram Shop Injuries Lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of Dram Shop Law in South Carolina, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

What Do I Have to Provide in My Dram Shop Liability Claim?

To pursue a dram shop liability claim in South Carolina, you’ll typically need to establish several key elements:


You must demonstrate that the establishment served a person to the point of intoxication or continued to serve alcohol to the individual even when they were visibly intoxicated or already under the influence.  According to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580, the claimant must demonstrate that the establishment knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Proximate Cause:

You need to show a direct link between the establishment’s overservice and the drunk driver’s actions that led to your injuries.


All cases require evidence of your damages due to the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.  Additionally, dram shop statutes provide for the recovery of punitive damages, which are damages awarded to punish the responsible party.  To learn more about the different types of damages, read our blog.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina, seeking justice and compensation may involve consulting a North Charleston dram shop lawyer.


What Compensation Can I Sue for in a Dram Shop Liability Claim?

In a dram shop liability claim, you can seek various forms of compensation, including:

Medical Expenses:

You can recover costs related to hospitalization, surgeries, medications, therapy, and any other medical treatments necessary due to the accident.  This includes any future medical expenses that can be shown that they are from your injuries.

Lost Wages:

If your injuries prevented you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for the income you lost during your recovery.

Property Damage:

This includes repair or replacement costs for your damaged vehicle or personal property.

Pain and Suffering:

Compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.

Punitive Damages:

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the establishment for reckless or egregious behavior.

What Is Social Host Liability in South Carolina for Minors?

While dram shop laws primarily focus on commercial establishments, South Carolina also recognizes social host liability concerning the non-commercial provider of alcohol to minors. This is typically seen when adults provide alcohol to minors who later leave and harm someone else due to the alcohol.  Social hosts who provide alcohol to individuals under 21 can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the intoxicated minor.

This legal principle is aimed at discouraging adults from supplying alcohol to minors and helps protect young individuals from the dangers of underage drinking.

Cannon Law – Your North Charleston Dram Shop Law Firm

Cannon Law is here to support you. As your trusted North Charleston Dram Shop Lawyer, we understand that the aftermath of an alcohol-related accident can be overwhelming. Our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, know that you have a North Charleston Dram Shop Attorney who’s ready to fight for your rights and navigate the legal complexities, providing you with the support you need.

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