If you’re hurt in a South Carolina car accident caused by a drunk driver, or you’re the family of someone killed in a fatal accident, you’ve got the right to sue the bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver, but it’s not easy to win.

Your biggest challenge is compiling evidence to show the bar or restaurant’s employees knew or should have known their customer was intoxicated but sold him alcohol anyway.

You can’t count on the bar or restaurant to admit it. Their insurance company and defense attorney won’t let that happen.

You need to prove it by compiling all the evidence you can. Most of it’s circumstantial evidence. Think of it as indirect proof—brush strokes to paint a full picture.

Here’s some evidence you need to paint that full picture to get a settlement from the South Carolina bar or restaurant when they overserve a drunk driver.

If you don’t know how to build a circumstantial evidence case to hold a bar or restaurant liable in your South Carolina drunk driving accident case, we’re here for you. Get your questions answered. Call us toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.

Law Enforcement Evidence

Often, the police investigation file starts a critical piece of your evidence to hold a bar or restaurant liable for a drunk driver: the timeline of the drinking, starting with the end result—the crash. At the very least, you should expect to get police reports and a copy of the police dashcam video showing the drunk driver’s condition after the crash. But if the drunk driver was seriously hurt also, there may be no video.

You might also get witness statements and maybe even a statement from the drunk driver, which could indicate where he drank, which gives you a target.

For serious crashes with grave injuries or death, the investigation may involve the South Carolina Highway Major Accident Investigation Team. These highly trained officers generally create tremendous information about the crash. There may be dozens of pictures, time and distance calculations to map out drivers’ actions just prior to impact, and maybe even a computer animation depicting the crash. Getting all that information is critical to your case.

Evidence From the Bar or Restaurant

You may need to get your own independent investigation to learn how the business is run, namely how much they encouraged employees to overserve customers. That may require you to get copies of the business’s policy and procedures manuals and employee handbooks, if they have any.

A hard decision you’ve got to make, fast: Whether to contact the bar or restaurant, instructing them to preserve any surveillance video—if there is any—showing the drunk driver’s drinking and conduct there. You shouldn’t make this decision alone, as it’s a critical legal strategy that could have a huge impact on your case. Get advice from an experienced South Carolina drunk driving car accident attorney.

You can also get credit card records to show how much alcohol the customer bought.

Because bars and restaurants protect themselves even when they’re responsible for a drunk driver, you may not be able to get most of this evidence without a discovery request in a lawsuitTo get started protecting YOUR rights, call us toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.

The Drunk Driver

It sounds crazy, but you might get help from the drunk driver. Unless he can’t remember because he was so bombed, nobody knows better exactly where he drank, how much he drank, and the time period over which he drank it.

The emotions that get stirred up from just the possibility of this confrontation, plus the highly specific nature of the evidence you need from him, makes personally meeting with the offender nearly impossible for victims.

It’s best for a professional to handle this. An attorney can reach out to the drunk driver’s criminal defense attorney to negotiate a possible meeting to generate crucial evidence.

The Prosecutor

The prosecutor, called a solicitor in South Carolina, can be a huge help. He builds the criminal case, which is based on much the same evidence as the car accident case. This presents the ability for your car accident attorney to team up with a powerful legal ally with expansive resources that can help you investigate and build your case.

The Witnesses

In these cases, witnesses must often be found. They may be listed in police reports, and they may pop up from discussions with other folks involved in the case—including the drunk driver. Contacting these witnesses can yield extremely helpful evidence, especially for confirming the drunk driver’s drinking timeline and how he appeared intoxicated when he was at the offending bar or restaurant.

One Witness Who Can Tie It All Together: A Forensic Toxicologist

One of the most important witnesses in your case may be a forensic toxicologist. That’s an expert who’s legally entitled to give his opinion the drunk driver would have appeared intoxicated while he got sold more alcohol by the bar or restaurant. The toxicologist bases his opinions on the timeline and evidence developed through the rest of your investigations.

Forensic toxicologists use a process called retrograde extrapolation to show the drunk driver’s blood alcohol content at the time the bar or restaurant served him more alcohol.

If you’ve gotten this far and wonder where to find a forensic toxicologist, well, that’s what good car accident attorneys are for. We can find one who’s reputable and believable to help you establish a powerful case against the bar or restaurant. 

You’ve Already Got Too Much to Deal With. Don’t Add Being Your Own Lawyer.

While it shouldn’t be this hard to enforce your rights, bars and restaurants will make it that way. No one wants to go to a doctor, but when you’re seriously hurt, you just need one. It’s the same thing with an attorney: you’ve got a lot at stake, you could have lifelong implications in accepting a cheap settlement or losing your rights, and it’s just overwhelming to gather, analyze, manage, and present this evidence in a convincing way to get a settlement.

We are experienced Spartanburg car accident attorneys, and we’re here to help you. It’s free to get some guidance from us about your case. You can contact us with a live chat, fill out a Get Help Now form, or call toll-free at 888-230-1841. We offer a FREE, EASY strategy session to answer your questions.

If you’re worried about what it’s like to work with us, check out our reviews from real clients on a website we don’t own and on Google.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.