South Carolina Woman Sues Bar For Paralyzing Car Accident

PHOTO: Chelsea Hess, 22, of Beaufort, SC is suing a bar and the department of transportation for a car accident that left her paralyzed from under-age drunk driving.
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A South Carolina woman is suing the bar that served her alcohol as a minor the night she had a car accident that left her paralyzed.

Chelsea Hess, 22, is also suing the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the town of Bluffton and Beaufort County for negligence for allegedly not maintaining the road shoulder she drove her car over in her accident.

Hess was 20 years old on Aug. 8, 2009 when she went to Jock's Sports Grill in Beaumont, S.C. for a game of billiards, according to her lawsuit.

She alleged that she ordered an alcoholic drink at the bar and was served without being asked for her identification. The legal drinking age in South Carolina is 21.

Hess accused the bar of several forms of negligence, including failure to "request and examine proof of identification," serving alcohol to minors, and "failing to ascertain whether Plaintiff was impaired by the consumption of alcoholic beverages at the time Plaintiff purchased the alcoholic beverage."

At about 1:05 a.m., Hess left the bar driving her own car and had a serious accident.

"The wheels of the motor vehicle Plaintiff was operating suddenly dropped off into a large unmaintained area on the shoulder of Alljoy Road, which caused Plaintiff to loose [sic] control of her vehicle and causing her to roll the vehicle over off the side of the road," the lawsuit said.

As a result, Hess "suffered serious, permanently debilitating injuries causing the plaintiff to be paraplegic." She blames the accident on the bar.

"The accident that resulted in Plaintiff being a paraplegic was due to and proximately caused by the negligence, recklessness, and willfulness and gross negligence of Defendant Jock's Sports Grill," the lawsuit said.

Hess is also suing the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the town of Bluffton and Beaufort County for negligence.

Hess alleges that the Department of Transportation was negligent "in having actual knowledge of the defect in the subject road shoulder and in failing to remedy the defect which was a dangerous situation for the Plaintiff and other similarly situated persons."

Attorneys representing the defendants deny "each and every allegation," they each said in responses to the Hess' lawsuit.

"The Defendant SCDOT alleges that any injuries and/or damages sustained by the Plaintiff were due to and caused by the sole negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, careless, heedless, willful and wanton acts and/or omissions of Plaintiff," the Department of Transportation response said.

The response lists eight possible ways Hess may have been negligent including driving while intoxicated, failing to keep her car under proper control, driving too fast for the conditions, and "failing to act in a reasonable and prudent manner."

Hess did not respond to requests for comment.

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