North Carolina Appellate Court Discusses Dram Shop Liability in Drunk Driver Personal Injury Accident

Motor vehicle accidents are always devastating, but when a drunk driver is to blame the injury can seem even more difficult to accept. There are certain laws that provide ways to hold restaurants, bars, and other establishments that serve alcohol responsible if they overserve someone who leaves the premises and causes an injury accident. These are known as dram shop laws. As seasoned Charlotte drunk driving car accident lawyers, we are ready to help you fight for the compensation that you and your family deserve during this stressful and painful time.

The North Carolina Court of Appeal recently handled a case involving allegations based on dram shop liability. The defendant in the case owned a series of restaurants franchised in different counties throughout North Carolina. The owner disseminated information on how to identify intoxication and prevent it. The co-defendant in the case was a regular customer at one of the locations and between six to seven hours he was served between roughly 13 to 15 alcoholic beverages. Most of the drinks came from one server who’s shift ended before the customer left. The server who replaced her eventually cut off the second defendant from ordering more drinks. The second server ordered food for the customer to eat, which he did.

The customer then left the premises and caused an injury accident on Interstate 26. The plaintiff filed a suit against the restaurant and the customer seeking compensation for his injuries. He also alleged that the restaurant was negligent in supervising its employees, the two servers who provided alcoholic beverages to the customer. The restaurant moved to dismiss the dram shop claim and negligent supervision claim. The court granted dismissal of the negligent supervision claim, but the dram shop claim went to the jury. The court concluded that the plaintiff did not provide enough evidence to show that the servers were incompetent and that the cause of action was duplicative of the dram shop act.

The jury concluded that the restaurant was not negligent, and the plaintiff sought a new trial on the basis that a jury instruction that the defendant suggested the court use was prejudicial. The court rejected this contention and the plaintiff appealed stating the special jury instruction should have been allowed and that the claim for negligent supervision should not have been dismissed.

On review, the appellate court concluded that the lower court properly rejected the requested jury instruction because it would have asked the jury to improperly focus on one specific aspect of the plaintiff’s evidence. It also concluded that because the jury did not find the defendant liable on the dram shop cause of action, the plaintiff did not suffer any error when the lower court dismissed its negligent supervision cause of action.

If you were injured due to a drunk driver, it is important that you obtain evidence regarding where the driver was coming from and who served him or her alcohol. Our tenacious team of Charlotte drunk driving car accident lawyers at Maurer Law will investigate your claim and ensure that you are treated fairly during the claims process. We provide a free consultation so contact us as soon as possible at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online.