Everyone commonly understands that they can pursue financial compensation for injuries after being struck by a drunk driver, but few realize they can pursue damages against a business establishment or a social host if they have over-served the drunk driver before they get behind the wheel in North Carolina. Depending on the extent of injuries suffered by the drunk driver victim and the amount of personal liability insurance carried by the drunk driver, it may be necessary to sue the establishment or person that served them additionally to receive whole compensation. While the North Carolina “dram shop” law is somewhat limited compared to other states, the possibility for further compensation does exist when an experienced car accident lawyer can establish a vicarious relationship between the drunk driver and business establishment or a social host.
Business establishments that serve alcohol to minors in the period immediately prior to the drunk minor leaving and operating a vehicle could be held liable by a North Carolina court when the correlation can be proven. Certain documentation such as credit card receipts, business sales records, and social media posts from cell phone records can also be applied in building the case along with personal testimony. However, businesses are exempt from vicarious liability for injuries suffered by a drunk driver victim if the primary negligent respondent is an adult.
Social Host Liability
The age status of the drunk driver does not apply when vicarious liability is directed at a social host. Anyone hosting an event where someone drinks excessively and leaves driving could establish liability on the part of the host because of negligence. The social host must be proven by a North Carolina car accident lawyer to have served the individual alcohol, known the individual was intoxicated at the time, and known they would be driving immediately after leaving the event.