North Carolina Dram Shop Laws
Recovering compensation after an accident caused by a drunk driver typically revolves around filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit directly against the impaired individual. However, through the dram shop laws in North Carolina, it may be possible to hold other individuals accountable. This includes any third-party establishment that sells or provides alcoholic beverages to an already intoxicated person. Here, we want to discuss the specifics of dram shop laws in North Carolina.
What Does the NC Dram Shop Law Say?
The state of North Carolina has a law on the books that says it is illegal for a “permittee or his employee or for an ABC store employee to knowingly sell or give alcoholic beverages to any person who is intoxicated” (North Carolina General Statutes section 18B-305).
This law essentially means that third-party establishments and businesses can be held liable if they serve an intoxicated person alcohol and that individual goes on to cause an injury or property damage due to their impairment.
How to Use the Dram Shop Laws for a Claim
We have to look very closely at this definition, particularly at the word “knowingly.” This word can complicate whether or not an individual will be able to file a lawsuit against a third party aside from the intoxicated person who caused the injury or property damage. The litigation for these claims will always come down to whether or not an individual had reasonable knowledge that the person they served was intoxicated before serving them more alcohol and allowing them to leave the premises.
Proving that a person knowingly served an intoxicated individual alcohol can be done in a few ways. An attorney working on these claims may work together statements from eyewitnesses at the time, including individuals inside of the establishment, acquaintances of the intoxicated individual who were there at the time, or others who may have seen the establishment serve or sell alcohol to an already intoxicated person. Surveillance footage may also be used.
What About Sale of Alcohol to a Minor?
North Carolina also has a law on the books that makes it possible to hold a third-party alcohol vendor or ABC store responsible if they serve alcohol to a minor who then goes on to cause injuries or property damage. In order to bring a lawsuit against an alcohol vendor or ABC store Under these circumstances, the following conditions must be met:
- The ABC store, third-party alcohol vendor, or an employee must have provided alcohol or sold in alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal drinking age (regardless of whether or not the individual was already impaired), and
- The consumption of that specific alcoholic beverage partially contributed to the underage drinker’s intoxication at the time the incident occurred, and
- The resulting injury was a direct result of the underage individual’s operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Social Host Liability
There are times when private third parties can also be held responsible if they serve alcohol to an already intoxicated person at a residence or other private event. For example, if an individual throws a house party, continues to supply alcohol to someone who is already likely well past the legal limit, and that individual goes on to cause an injury after leaving in a vehicle, the social host could be held liable.
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