Underaged Driver Overserved at South Carolina Bars
On January 15, 2022, Tristen Hewitt, who was underage at the time, was out at the bars in York County, South Carolina with his friends. He was served alcohol multiple times by the different bars, one bar having served him despite knowing he was a teenager. Tristen and his friend Austin went to multiple bars before heading to the 99 Island Dam. Upon leaving the dam, Austin was behind the wheel with Tristen in the passenger seat.
The Drunk Driving Crash in York County
Driving back from the dam, Austin was driving too fast for the conditions. When he came upon a bend in the road, he lost control of the car. The car swerved off the road and ran into a tree, leaving Tristen seriously injured.
When Tristen’s mother, Angelisa, arrived at the hospital, she was told that her son was unconscious, paralyzed, and had dangerous levels of pressure on his brain. She was told that if the pressure on his brain continued to rise, Tristen would reach the threshold of brain death. As Angelisa sat by her son, the pressure levels on his brain continued to rise, and Tristen passed away. He was only 22 years old.
Dram Shop Liability and Wrongful Death
The driver of the car, Austin Henson, was arrested for Felony DUI. His toxicology report showed that he had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.11, as well as the presence of cocaine, benzoylecgonine, and THC.
Following the Felony DUI arrest, a civil suit was filed against Austin and the bars that served him alcohol that night. Although the lawsuit was properly served upon all defendants with plenty of time to answer the complaint, the insurance broker for the defendant bars failed to forward the copies of the lawsuit to the respective liquor liability carriers, which resulted in an Entry of Default against the bars.
$8.35 Million Wrongful Death Settlement
Following the Entry of Default, and with the combination of the broker’s negligence and South Carolina’s dram shop liability laws, a complex series of negotiations began. The negotiations ended when all claims were settled for $8,350,000.00. Though no amount of money could bring back Angelisa’s son, Tristen, she hopes that holding all responsible parties accountable can help bring about change, so that no other family loses a loved one to overserving and drunk driving.
South Carolina Drunk Driving Injury Lawyers Here to Help
If you or a family member have been injured or killed in a drunk driving crash, our car accident lawyer team at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger are here to help you hold both the driver and the bar or restaurant that overserved him accountable.
We treat our clients with the same respect and empathy we would want for our own loved ones. Our goal is to take everything off of your plate and communicate with you every step of the way so you and your family can focus on healing while we work to obtain full justice.
You can contact us at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) or 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC) to see how we can help you.