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Columbia bar pays victim's father for drunk driving fatality

In 2010, Over 10,000 people were killed in an alcohol-related car accident, or one person every 51 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A drunk driver and any establishment or host that served alcohol to this driver may be held liable in the unfortunate event that a drunk driving accident occurs in South Carolina.

A Columbia bar paid $975,000 to the father of a 24-year old killed by a drunk driver last year. An SUV struck the victim while he crossed an intersection near the bar. The driver was exceeding the speed limit and struck the victim without making an attempt to stop or slow down.

Video cameras outside the bar recorded the drunk driving crash. Cameras inside the bar also showed the driver being served beverages. According to lawsuit, the driver visited the bar during the late evening of May 4, left early the next morning at 1:30 a.m. and then returned thirty minutes later and stayed for an additional 14 minutes. Bar employees continued to serve the driver even though he was visibly intoxicated, according to the suit. The driver's bar tab was almost $200. The driver's blood-alcohol content was over twice the legal limit in South Carolina.

The suit was initially brought under South Carolina dram shop laws, which prohibit bars from selling alcohol to already intoxicated patrons. As part of the recent settlement, the bar did not admit liability and the victim's family waived future suits against it.

A lawsuit may lead to compensation for a person injured in a drunk driving accident, or the family members of those who perish. An establishment that served a visibly-intoxicated person who causes these accidents may also be held liable, as was demonstrated in this case. Investigations generally should occur promptly in these types of cases so that evidence, such as videotapes and police reports, may be obtained in order for the case to proceed.

Source: The State, "Five Points bar pays $975,000 settlement," John Monk, Jan. 16, 2013

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