a small gift box with handcuffs hanging out next to a glass green beer bottle with car keys underneath

As the holidays approach, many employees will attend work-related events to celebrate the season and the camaraderie of their co-workers. Employers that sponsor holiday parties often provide alcoholic beverages to encourage workers to relax and enjoy themselves. However, when employees drink too much and then get behind the wheel, they can cause devastating accidents that result in severe injuries and even fatalities.

If you got hurt by an intoxicated motorist who was leaving a holiday work party, you likely have a personal injury case against the drunk driver and their insurer. But could you also have a case against their employer for providing the alcohol? This article explores the potential liability of employers for serving alcohol at holiday parties in South Carolina.

Employer Liability for Drunk Driving After a Holiday Party

Like many states, South Carolina has dram shop and social host liability laws, which establish when parties that sell or provide alcohol to others are responsible for the intoxicated behavior of drinkers.

A “dram shop,” or vendor, that sells alcohol can be liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated patron if it sells alcohol to someone who is clearly drunk or underage. On the other hand, a “social host,” or someone who provides alcohol to guests, is liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated guest only if they give alcohol to a minor.

Generally, an employer could be liable for a drunk driving accident involving an employee after a holiday party if any of the following occurred:

  • The employer charged for the beverages.
  • The employer continued to serve alcohol to an employee or guest who was clearly already intoxicated.
  • The employer served alcohol to a minor under 21.

Tips for Employees and Employers to Enjoy Christmas Parties Safely

As an employee, you can enjoy work-related holiday festivities safely by:

  • Remembering that an office party is still a work event and acting accordingly
  • Attending with a designated driver or pre-scheduling a cab or rideshare service
  • Drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages in between boozy drinks
  • Checking any medications you are taking for possible interactions with alcohol

If you’re an employer, you can keep your employees and others safe during and after holiday parties this season by:

  • Refraining from making the event mandatory, charging for drinks, serving minors, or continuing to serve employees or guests who are obviously drunk
  • Adding policies to your company handbook about drinking at company events
  • Providing transportation to and from company events for employees and guests
  • Assigning designated leaders to monitor events and handle overly intoxicated guests
  • Serving only non-alcoholic beverages during the last hour before the event ends

Get Help from Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in South Carolina

If you were injured in an accident involving a drunk driver who was leaving a holiday work party, you should not have to bear the financial burdens alone. Contact the Jebaily Law Firm for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

Jebaily Law Firm

Jebaily Law Firm, is one of South Carolina’s long-established and well-respected legal practices. With offices in Florence, North Myrtle Beach, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., we are trial lawyers focused on plaintiff litigation in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and social security disability. Established in 1969, we have more than 100 years of combined legal experience in protecting the rights of clients and advocating for the safety and well-being of South Carolina citizens.