To South Carolina bars and their advocates, the solution to rising alcohol liability insurance rates that might be driving some of them out of business is obvious: Reduce their liability. That is: Make it harder for victims of drunk drivers to hold bars responsible for the deaths and injuries they contribute to whenever they overserve inebriated customers who go on to kill or injure innocent victims.

Their go-to solution is to eliminate a law called “joint and several” liability, which allows people who are found liable in a lawsuit to get stuck with more than their share of the damages if other defendants can’t pay. It sounds like an unfair policy — until you realize that defendants assigned less than 50% of the blame can only be subject to paying more than their share of damages when they provide alcohol or illegal drugs to the driver or engage in other conduct that is “willful, wanton, reckless, grossly negligent, or intentional.”

When bar owners and their allies in other lawsuit-prone industries got pushback, they came up with the idea of having state government write their insurance policies — and subsidize them through state liquor taxes. Which is an astounding idea in such a free-market-loving state.


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Image Source: The Post and Courier