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Lawsuit filed for fatal hit-and-run crash

The estate of a bicyclist killed by a drunk driver filed a wrongful death action against the driver and five bars in Charleston, South Carolina. The bars allegedly have Dram shop liability for serving him during a seven-hour drinking binge before the drunk driving crash. Unspecified damages are sought for this hit-and-run accident along Savannah Highway near White Oak Drive.

The driver allegedly purchased up to six pitchers of beer while he was at the first bar with co-workers from 5:30 to 8:30. He then went to another bar with a friend, had at least two more drinks and then went to a third and a fourth bar for additional drinks. Police then stopped the driver's friend who was driving his own car from the fourth bar and charged him with driving under the influence. The driver went to a fifth bar and drank three more drinks and shots with the bartender. He allegedly had a blackout while he left the bar because he was so intoxicated.

The bicyclist was thrown onto the road after the driver crashed his truck into the back of the bicycle at 1:20 a.m. Prosecutors claimed that the truck dragged the bike for almost a quarter of a mile before driving off. The driver did not provide aid, wait for police or report the accident according to arrest warrants. The driver pled guilty on a reckless homicide in January and is now serving a six-year prison sentence for the accident.

The plaintiff claimed that the driver was guilty of negligence and recklessness and that the bars were negligent for continuing to serve the driver while he was intoxicated. The fifth bar was especially liable for serving him because he was once a bartender at that bar and charged twice with DUI, according to the suit.

Last summer, another Charleston restaurant agreed to a $1.1 million settlement of a suit by the family of a victim of a fiery crash on the Ravenel Bridge that was allegedly caused by a drunk restaurant employee. As these lawsuits demonstrate, establishments that serve intoxicated drivers may be particularly liable for injuries or fatalities caused in a drunk driving accident. Victims and their families should promptly seek legal guidance in these actions to determine fault and to obtain compensation.

Source: The Post and Courier, "Lawsuit targets fatal hit-and-run driver, Charleston area bars that served him," Glenn Smith, June 28, 2013

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