Dram Shop Liability Attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina
Alcohol-related car accidents happen every day. Crashes involving drunk drivers occur as a result of someone choosing to get behind the wheel of their vehicle after drinking. Drunk drivers endanger not only themselves but also others on the road. While the consequences of a drunk driving accident can be devastating, the impaired motorist may not be the only one responsible for the crash and the resulting damages and losses.
In addition to pursuing the drunk driver, you may also be able to sue the vendor or establishment that provided alcohol to the driver prior to the accident. Holding the alcohol-serving establishment accountable for negligence is known as “dram shop liability.”
With an office in Raleigh, North Carolina, our dram shop liability attorneys help clients sue the bar or other establishments that served alcohol to the driver who caused the crash. At Life Law, we serve injured accident victims and their families throughout all of North Carolina, including Charlotte, Asheville, Nags Head, and Wilmington.
How Does Dram Shop Liability Law Work in North Carolina?
While dram shop liability is about establishing negligence in serving alcohol, dram shop liability laws vary in scope from one state to another. Under North Carolina law, injured persons and their families can hold an alcohol-serving vendor liable for their damages and losses when the following criteria are met:
The vendor is negligent in selling or serving alcohol to a minor under the age of 21;
The minor caused a motor vehicle accident while impaired by alcohol that was sold or served by the vendor; and
The accident and the resulting damages were a proximate cause of the minor’s driving under the influence of alcohol.
While many states allow injured persons and their families to hold alcohol-serving establishments liable for their losses regardless of the impaired driver’s age, North Carolina is not one of them. North Carolina’s dram shop liability law limits liability to accidents caused by intoxicated minors under the age of 21.
However, vendors and social hosts may still be held liable for the actions of intoxicated adults under limited circumstances, which is why you may want to speak with an experienced dram shop liability attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina, and discuss the applicability of dram shop liability law in your unique situation.
Applicability of the Dram Shop Liability Law
While North Carolina’s dram shop liability law does not address a social host’s liability for drunk driving accidents, a number of court decisions throughout the state have allowed accident victims to hold social hosts liable under specific circumstances. If a drunk driver consumed alcohol in a social setting before the accident, victims might be able to sue the social host if the host:
Served or provided alcohol to the individual (the driver);
Knew or should have known that the individual was intoxicated; and
Knew or should have known the individual would be driving after consuming alcohol.
If you were injured or your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, and you believe that you could potentially have a dram shop liability claim, it is important to act quickly. The time you have to pursue a dram shop liability claim in North Carolina (also known as the statute of limitations) is one year from the date of the accident.
Recoverable Damages in Dram Shop Liability Cases
If you can establish the alcohol-serving establishment’s liability for serving alcohol that resulted in an accident, what damages can you recover? Recoverable damages in dram shop liability cases depend on the nature and circumstances of the case and may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Loss of income
Reduced earning capacity
Pain and suffering
If a loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for burial/funeral expenses, lost income and benefits that would have been provided, loss of companionship, and others.
Dram Shop Liability Attorneys Serving Raleigh, North Carolina
Dram shop liability claims require the experience of a skilled attorney well-versed in state law. At Life Law, we understand the law surrounding dram shop liability in North Carolina and have successfully sued alcohol-serving establishments on behalf of victims of drunk driving accidents. Request a consultation with our dram shop liability attorneys in Raleigh, North Carolina, to talk about your options for recovery.