Drunk driving accidents and liability - South Carolina Law Firm - Peake & Fowler

Family of Victim of Drunk Driver Files Lawsuit against Bar

The family of Caitlin Clark, a 19-year-old woman killed while riding as a passenger on a friend’s motorcycle, has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a bar where the friend was drinking prior to the crash. Clark’s father has filed claims against the owners of the Columbia bar called the Tin Roof for serving the driver of the motorcycle to the point of “gross intoxication.”

According to the complaint filed in Lexington County court, on August 7, 2015, James Gainey Jr., 20, was permitted to enter the Tin Roof bar despite not being of legal age to drink. The lawsuit goes on to claim that Gainey was served so many drinks that he became grossly intoxicated, remaining at the bar until 1 a.m. on August 8. The suit alleges that the employees of the Tin Roof “knew or should have known that Gainey was intoxicated.” Gainey left the bar at 1 a.m. on his 2012 Honda motorcycle. He proceeded to pick up Clark, his friend, with whom he had earlier made plans to go riding on his motorcycle. While riding on Saint David’s Church Road in West Columbia, the lawsuit claims that Gainey lost control while riding his bike “at a high rate of speed,” veered off the road, and struck a fence, throwing Clark from the bike.  Clark was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Gainey was arrested and charged with felony DUI. A Lexington County grand jury indicted him for reckless homicide and felony DUI causing death in December. Gainey pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bond. He now wears an electronic monitoring anklet and is permitted only to leave his father’s home for essential travel, including doctor’s visits and work. Clark’s father earlier filed a legal claim against Gainey himself for wrongful death, for which his insurers paid Clark $123,614 in a settlement of those claims.

Clark’s lawsuit is one of a number of similar claims that have been filed in recent months against bars and restaurants in the Midlands area for injuries resulting from serving an excess of alcohol to patrons who go on to injure others in drunken driving accidents. South Carolina allows bars to be sued for money damages where that bar served alcohol to an obviously-intoxicated patron and the patron went on to harm someone in an incident of drunk driving. For victims of drunk drivers and their families, this is often the only means by which the victim can obtain compensation for their injuries, where no insurance policy is available to cover the loss, or the payout of the policy is insufficient to cover all damages.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver or otherwise hurt in a South Carolina car or motorcycle accident that was not your fault, seek help in getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries and contact Columbia personal injury law firm Peake & Fowler for a consultation on your case, at 803-788-4370.