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Can Bars Be Held Liable For Drunk Driving Accidents in Winston-Salem

Drunk driving accidents are tragic and, unfortunately, all too common, especially at this time of year. People tend to drink more over the holidays than at any other time of year, which often leads to irresponsible behavior. When injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you deserve to be compensated, and many people wonder if the bar that sold the alcohol can be held responsible for the injury. In North Carolina, this may be possible, but only in very specific situations. Learn about North Carolina dram shop statutes, when a bar can be held liable for a drunk driver, and how a car accident lawyer in Winston-Salem can get you a settlement.

North Carolina’s Dram Shop Statutes

Dram laws, or dram shop statutes, are laws that allow for some of the responsibility for a drunk driving accident to fall upon those who sold or served the alcohol in the first place. The general idea is that bars and restaurants should be responsible enough to know when their patrons are too intoxicated, and stop serving them. While most states have some sort of statute along these lines, the circumstances under which a bar can be held responsible and the degree of responsibility vary widely from state to state. In North Carolina, these laws only apply if the intoxicated person was underage.

The Drunk Driver and Bar Liability

As with most injury cases, injuries caused by a drunk driver hinge largely on the concept of negligent—that the responsible party was acting in a manner contrary to what a normal and responsible person would do, and that irresponsible negligent act caused injury.

In North Carolina, state statute section 18B-121 states that the alcohol vendor can only be held liable under the following circumstances:

  1.      The intoxicated person must be under 21 years of age;
  2.      The vendor was negligent in selling this person alcohol;
  3.      The intoxicated person then goes on to cause a car accident because of being drunk;
  4.      The injuries related to the accident were caused by the minor’s driving drunk.

This is a key difference between North Carolina’s statutes and those of other states—bars, restaurants, and other establishments can only be held liable for a drunk driver’s actions if the driver was under 21—a minor.

Negligent Service

Another key factor is that the bar was negligent in serving the alcohol. This means that either the establishment knew that the drinker was underage, could tell the patron was intoxicated, or simply neglected to bother checking ID. It’s essential to demonstrate this in court to get compensation.

Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer in Winston-Salem

When you get into an auto accident because of a drunk driver who was under the age of 21, you need the services of a qualified and experienced car accident lawyer in Winston-Salem. Lewis & Keller’s team of attorneys has years of experience in handling a wide variety of car accident claims and getting justice for our clients. Give us a call or fill out the below form for a free case evaluation today.