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Video evidence helps resolve North Carolina dram shop case

Jan 17, 2013 Brown Moore & Associates Car Accidents

The widespread use of video cameras has introduced greater transparency and accountability into many areas of American life. Many police departments, for example, have installed cameras in every squad car. The presence of the camera creates a much clearer record of traffic stops, arrests and other encounters than every existed before.

Video cameras are also increasingly common in private businesses. And here too, their presence makes for greater transparency and accountability. A case in point is a recent North Carolina car accident involving a pedestrian death.

The fatal accident occurred last May in Five Points. A 24-year-old man had been drinking heavily at a bar. At an intersection, he hit a pedestrian with his SUV, causing the pedestrian’s death.

According to a warrant issued in the case, the 24-year-old man had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .20. That is more than twice the legal limit in North Carolina.

The family of the pedestrian who was killed brought a lawsuit against the driver. The family also brought a separate suit against the bar where the driver was drinking.

In the suit against the bar, the family relied on a North Carolina law that prohibits bars from serving beer or wine to people who are already intoxicated. Such laws are usually called “dram shop” laws.

And this is where the video evidence comes in. Videos from the bar showed the 24-year-old man drinking heavily there on the night of the car accident. The family of the pedestrian who was killed argued in their lawsuit that 24-year-old’s bar tab that night was nearly $200.

Yesterday, the bar settled the lawsuit with the family for $975,000. Clearly the availability of the video evidence played a key role in facilitating the settlement.

Source: “Surveillance tapes mean $975K settlement for bar,” Charlotte Observer / (Columbia) State, John Monk, 1-16-13

Our personal injury law firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in the Charlotte area and elsewhere in North Carolina. To learn more about our practice, please visit our car accident page.