South Carolina DUI Injury Attorneys Protect the Rights of Those Injured by Drunk Drivers
It’s no secret that alcohol seriously impairs drivers, and yet people still drink and get behind the wheel. The consequences can be life-shattering. As of 2018, more than a quarter of traffic deaths occur in accidents involving alcohol in the U.S. And in South Carolina in 2018, there were 291 deaths in drunk driving accidents.
The risk of being injured by a drunk driver may seem remote, but sobering statistics tell us that we’re never far from being affected by someone’s decision to drink and drive.
South Carolina DUI Laws
While drunk driving is universally illegal in the United States, each state has its own laws and approach to dealing with the problem – and even call it by different names. In North Carolina, for example, it is termed DWI. In South Carolina, it’s known as DUI. And there’s even more to it.
DUI vs DUAC in South Carolina
The state of South Carolina approaches DUI in a couple of ways. First, there is DUI, or driving under the influence. Second there is DUAC, or driving with unlawful alcohol concentration. They’re different, but related and have to do with how South Carolina approaches the crime of intoxicated driving.
- DUAC means driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or above.
- DUI means driving while impaired. In this case, BAC will be considered along with other evidence to infer that the driver was driving under the influence.
Note that a driver can be charged with both DUAC and DUI. For those convicted, the criminal penalties of the two crimes are generally the same, but there is one more level of law to discuss.
- Felony DUI in South Carolina is when a driver is convicted of causing great bodily injury or death while driving under the influence. “Great bodily injury” is defined in South Carolina law as injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ. The penalties for this crime are understandably more severe.
Justice and Compensation for Those Injured By Drunk Drivers in South Carolina
When you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, your life changes in an instant. Pain, confusion, and stress suddenly become unwelcome guests. It is the at-fault driver’s duty to make you whole – that is, to put you back the way you were before they harmed you.
That’s why you should seek compensation for the harms and losses you’ve suffered. But do you know how to quantify them? What to ask for? How to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or even your own if necessary? This is when the skills and experience of a South Carolina DUI injury attorney come into play. We know the law, we deal with insurance companies all the time, and we may be able to show you any hidden costs associated with your injury – costs you may not even be aware of.
Here are some ways you can be compensated for your harms and losses:
Medical Bills and Treatment
Whatever the nature of your injury or injuries suffered in a wreck with an impaired driver, the medical bills that result should not fall on you. An insurance company is likely the first in line to pay those bills, but they won’t just write you a blank check. They’re likely to offer you a settlement amount, which may be low. But what if your injuries persist? Or new conditions occur as a result in the future?
And what if there are other policies involved that you can “stack” – or receive compensation from – depending on your case? Should your own policy pay you anything? These are all questions an experienced DUI Injury attorney can help answer.
Once again, an insurance company, usually the policy of the at-fault driver, is first in line. And again, there are things you should be aware of. Some insurers may try to steer you to “partner” repair shops, which may cut corners to cut costs (you are not required to use those shops). Some insurers may also offer a very low appraisal on your car’s value. These are also things that can be negotiated, and an attorney can help.
What if your injury prevents you from earning a living? The wages you lose due to your injury are compensable. This is another area that many people seem to forget about, but you have bills to pay. Being unable to work because someone injured you isn’t your fault. Again, the first place you’ll seek compensation is probably the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Pain, Suffering, and Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Imagine not being able to sleep at night because you’re in pain. Or never being able to get comfortable. Unable to rest or to do the things that bring you happiness. This is pain and suffering. It comes in many forms and degrees, but it is compensable. The trick to it is being able to prove and quantify it – something an experienced attorney can assist you with.
There are a lot of myths and confusion that seem to surround punitive damages. Essentially, this is money that a jury awards to a plaintiff to “punish” the defendant, though there is a very complicated legal definition and process by which this kind of award is reached. Perhaps what matters most is that if you prove that the at-fault driver was substantially impaired under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then punitive damages are not capped in South Carolina.
When Should You Seek Compensation After Being Injured By a Drunk Driver?
As soon as possible. There are laws called “statutes of limitation” which require you to bring your case within a certain period of time, so it is important that you contact an attorney right away. Some believe they need to wait for a criminal proceeding against the at-fault driver to conclude – that is not the case!
Besides which, medical bills, lost wages and other expenses start piling up immediately.
Once you’ve sought medical attention, contacting an experienced DUI Injury attorney should be your next step.
Are There Other Circumstances to Consider in Your DUI Injury Case?
You’ve probably heard before that every case is unique, and that’s true. Every case has a different mix of circumstances that define it in legal terms, and every client is a unique person to us. There are some additional things that you may need to consider, depending on the circumstances of the crash that injured you:
Was the Driver Who Hit You Working?
While it is rare, people have been injured by drunk drivers who were working, or in work vehicles. Being injured in a crash with a commercial truck, for example, adds a layer of complexity due to the possibility of multiple insurance companies, stricter rules for truckers and so on. Perhaps the person wasn’t a trucker, but was driving a company vehicle. There are a number of ways these factors can affect your case, and we can walk you through them as needed.
Were You on a Motorcycle When You Were Injured?
Typically, bikers are subject to more severe injuries than those in passenger vehicles. South Carolina does not require helmets if you’re 21 or older, so that increases the likelihood of brain injuries. We’ve also noticed that juries have a hard time identifying with those who ride, which some insurance companies may take advantage of by offering lower settlement amounts.
The “Dram Shop” Rule – Was Someone Served Alcohol Illegally?
South Carolina does not have a formal “Dram Shop Act.” However, South Carolina state law prohibits anyone with a permit to sell alcohol from selling to “an intoxicated person.” This is something your attorney can investigate on your behalf.
Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to Protect Your Rights
Drunk drivers are out there. When one injures you, take action to protect your rights and seek compensation. Call 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. We’re available 24/7 to speak to you.
Don’t take chances, and don’t hesitate. Insurance companies are probably not “on your side” and the criminal justice system isn’t there to compensate you. You have to seek compensation. We can help you determine what’s fair, how to pursue it, and handle the case every step of the way. Tell them you mean business!