Last December, an alleged drunk driver rear-ended another vehicle on the Ravenal Bridge in Charleston. The car that was struck then crashed into a wall and burst into flames, killing the 32-year-old driver, who was badly burned in the collision.
The at-fault driver was subsequently charged under South Carolina law with felony DUI. Now, the victim’s surviving family has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the restaurant where the accused man worked that night as an assistant manager.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the restaurant allowed the assistant manager to drink alcohol there after the restaurant had closed for the night and then let him drive off in his own vehicle without stopping him. In effect, the suit seeks to hold the restaurant liable for negligent actions that contributed to the cause of the fatal car accident that followed. For its part, the restaurant says it was only responsible for the assistant manager during working hours. Reports indicate the restaurant has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
This much is clear: a restaurant employee left his work, caused a fatal accident and subsequently was charged with a felony DUI. Now the victim’s family seeks monetary damages against the restaurant based on a wrongful death claim. While it remains to be seen how South Carolina courts will decide the pending cases, they underscore the tragic conclusion that drinking and driving kills. Nothing can alter the circumstances that befell the deceased victim, but a successful wrongful death claim may help the family gain some sense of closure while seeking to hold negligent parties accountable and obtaining some monetary relief for expenses and other damages incurred.
Steven Krause is a personal injury, auto accident, and workers’ compensation lawyer who practices in Anderson, SC. He graduated form the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and has been practicing law for 40 years now. Steven Krause believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience here.