South Carolina ranks as the 7th worst state in the nation for drunk driving. In 2020, drunk drivers caused multiple injuries and almost 30% of SC car accident fatalities. Drinking and driving is a serious problem that often has catastrophic consequences.
People who sustain injuries in drunk driving accidents and the families of those who lose their lives deserve compensation, but liable insurance companies don’t always cooperate. The experienced and compassionate DUI accident attorneys at Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers in Abbeville, SC, can help. We invite you to schedule a consultation at your convenience to learn about pursuing legal action against a drunk driver.
How Can Our DUI Accident Attorneys Help?
If you sustained injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you probably need medical care and time away from work to recover. Your car likely needs repairs or replacement. These unexpected expenses, combined with a temporary loss of income, can create financial hardships.
A drunk driving accident attorney will investigate your accident and gather evidence to hold the guilty parties responsible. We will also:
- Provide information and legal advice
- Perform case-related administrative tasks
- Speak to insurance companies on your behalf
- Negotiate a favorable settlement offer or take your case to trial
Most people obtain more compensation with legal representation than without, and having our skilled drunk driving accident attorneys on your side also means you won’t miss filing deadlines or misunderstand applicable laws.
How Does Alcohol Affect a Driver?
Driving safely requires clear vision, concentration, the ability to process many tasks simultaneously, and fast reactions to sudden changes in traffic or road conditions. Drunk driving increases the risk of accidents because of alcohol’s multiple adverse effects. Intoxication affects drivers in many ways:
- Interferes with motor skills
- Causes difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Delays reaction times
- Blurs vision
- Increases drowsiness and relaxation
Impaired drivers are more likely to take risks; they often speed and drive recklessly or aggressively because they cannot comprehend the consequences. Drunk drivers might drift between lanes or off the road, speed up and slow down unpredictably or run stop lights. They can even fall asleep at the wheel.
What’s the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases Against Drunk Drivers?
Those injured in a drunk driving accident can file civil claims, which are legal disputes between parties. People filing these disputes typically seek compensation because the defendant caused injury or harm. These personal injury claims don’t need as much evidence as the burden of proof is lower, and the defendant does not go to jail in civil cases.
The evidence you provide must be more credible than what the defendant presents to win a civil claim. The DUI accident attorneys from Hite Law Firm know how to support your claim with appropriate evidence.
Law enforcement officers can cite or arrest drunk drivers at an accident scene. These are criminal charges that a prosecutor must pursue. To get a conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver is guilty. This requires abundant evidence, and the drunk driver may face jail time.
Does South Carolina Have a Dram Shop Law?
When a drunk driver causes an accident, you can seek damages from them. Sometimes, you can also hold the party that served the alcohol accountable. South Carolina doesn’t have a dram shop or social host liability statute, but it is illegal to knowingly serve an intoxicated person.
The team at Hite Law Firm will work together with you to determine how and where a drunk driver became intoxicated and trace their actions to the accident scene. If someone served the alcohol illegally, we will also work to hold them liable.
Dram shop claims
Suppose you sustained injuries in a drunk driving accident. In that case, you may seek damages from a business or individual with a dram shop claim if they sold alcohol to someone already intoxicated or a minor. You must have evidence that the alcohol sale directly contributed to causing your accident and resulting injuries.
Social host liability claims
Social hosts who provide alcohol to underage guests in SC may be liable for your injuries if the minor causes an accident. However, you can’t make a social host liability claim if the drunk driver is 21 or older.
What Compensation Can You Get If a Drunk Driver Hits You?
Every accident is different, producing varying injuries and other damages. Compensation amounts differ. Your attorney can tell you how much your case is worth.
You’ll have several expenses if you sustain injuries in a drunk driving accident. Economic damages reimburse you for these costs:
- Medical treatments
- Lost wages
- Replacement services
- Property damage
Keep your invoices and receipts to ensure you get compensation.
Accidents can produce lingering adverse consequences. Non-economic damages compensate for things such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life
The compensation you can receive directly relates to how severely these conditions affect your life.
Some cases qualify for punitive damages. These are damages intended to punish the defendant. You’re eligible only if the defendant caused the accident and your injuries through wanton, reckless or willful conduct. Drunk driving is one scenario where punitive damages can be in play.
Why Choose Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers?
Since 1981, the dedicated lawyers at Hite Law Firm have been staunch advocates of those who are vulnerable and those who seek justice after a drunk driving accident. We are compassionate and treat our clients respectfully, but we are also fierce when fighting for a client’s best interests. Our decades of experience and focused legal knowledge mean we know how to maximize the compensation you deserve and hold a responsible party accountable.
If you are looking for proven, dedicated car accident attorneys in Abbeville, SC, to handle your case against a drunk driver, contact Hite Law Firm today to request your free consultation.