Social Host Liability for DUI Accidents in North Carolina

Determined lawyers use every legal means to enhance your recovery

If you are injured in a DUI accident, your case against the drunk-driving suspect may be easy to prove. But that doesn’t mean a damage award will be easy to collect. The cost of serious, permanent, disabling injuries may easily reach seven figures, far exceeding a driver’s insurance limits and personal assets. Even an injury that requires a routine hospital stay, and a short period of convalescence while you’re out of work, may place you in serious debt. If the drunk driver only carries the minimum level of insurance, that policy won’t cover all your losses. The outlook is even worse if, like many repeat offenders, the drunk driver had a suspended license and no insurance at all. Fortunately, liability for your accident may not be limited to the drunk driver who hit you. At Lanier Law Group, P.A., we’re prepared to go after all possible responsible parties, including social hosts who may be liable for serving alcohol.

Understanding North Carolina’s social host liability law

A series of court decisions in North Carolina have created a common law duty for social hosts to act with care when serving alcohol to guests, regardless of the guest’s age. Under these decisions a host may be liable for any foreseeable accident an intoxicated guest causes if these conditions existed:

  • The host served or provided the alcohol.
  • The host knew or should have known the person being served was intoxicated.
  • The host knew the person would be driving after being served alcohol.

If the driver who caused your accident went to a party at Mary’s house, and Mary served alcohol, noticed that her guest was getting a bit tipsy, due to him lurching as he walked or slurring his speech, and knew that he’d be driving home, Mary would have a duty to cut him off. However, if Mary continued to serve her drunken guest, she may be liable for any accident due to his impairment.

Social host liability may be difficult to prove, because so much of it turns on what the host observed and either knew or should have known. The court applies a reasonable-person standard in such cases, asking whether a reasonable host would have noticed that the guest was intoxicated. The timeline for the evening also comes into play, because if the guest left the party and consumed alcohol elsewhere prior to the accident, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove the host was at fault.

Given the complexity of cases involving social host liability, you may need experienced and determined legal representation. When you hire a heavy weight, you get a team of aggressive advocates who pursue every opportunity to maximize your recovery.

Contact our North Carolina attorneys for determined representation in drunk driving cases

Lanier Law Group, P.A. has been fighting for injured North Carolinians for more than 20 years. To learn how our experienced accident attorneys may be able to pursue social host liability in your case, schedule a free consultation. Call us in Raleigh, Wilmington, Durham, Greensboro, Asheville, Burlington, Fayetteville, Greenville, Winston-Salem, Jamestown or Charlotte at 919.848.2000 or contact us online