Despite the many warnings against it, drunk driving continues to be a problem in South Carolina. This state is one of the deadliest for driving under the influence. These drivers leave lots of damage in their wake. Vehicles are damaged and drivers, passengers, and pedestrians get injured. Sometimes, the injuries are so serious that victims have to undergo thousands of dollars in treatment. They may have to miss weeks or months of work. While no amount of money can underdo this damage, victims may be able to get compensation. If you have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, consult a Columbia drunk driving accident lawyer.
How a Columbia Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Will Explain Drunk Driving
Many people who get behind the wheel after a few drinks will say they don’t feel intoxicated. However, it is important to note that it doesn’t matter whether a driver thinks they are drunk or not. A third of all fatalities are due to drunk driving. If police catch them speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, or otherwise driving recklessly, they will pull them over. They may ask them to take field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer. If their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit, they can be charged with driving under the influence.
Under the law in South Carolina, drivers can be charged with DUI if their BAC is:
- 08% or over if they are over 21 or driving a non-commercial vehicle
- 04% or over if they are operating a commercial vehicle
- 02% or over if they are under 21
It is easier to get compensation in a personal injury case if you can show the driver was drunk. However, you may still be able to get damages if you can show other evidence that the driver was negligent.
Compensation Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents Can Recover in Columbia, SC
Victims of Columbia drunk driving accidents can seek both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages reimburse the victim for money spent on treatment and repairs. They can include medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages, and other financial costs. Noneconomic damages compensate the victim for losses which are intangible. Examples include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life. Noneconomic damages are harder to quantify.
Victims of drunk driving in Columbia, SC can also be awarded punitive damages. These are not very common in personal injury cases but they are not unheard of. Courts can award them if the driver was extremely negligent or reckless and the losses were significant.
Whether the damages sought are economic or noneconomic, they have to be supported by solid evidence. This can include medical reports, receipts, prescriptions and pay slips from before the accident. Statements from relatives and friends may also be used to help prove pain and suffering or severe emotional distress. You will need a Columbia drunk driving attorney to help you collect evidence and present it to the court. When you are recovering from injury, it will be difficult to handle the legal requirements. In addition, victims who engage an attorney usually get larger amounts in compensation.
What Happens if the At-Fault Driver Isn’t Insured or Even Licensed?
Unfortunately, many drivers who operate vehicles while drunk shouldn’t even be on the road. Some have never held a driver’s license. Others have had their licenses revoked, suspended or canceled. In some cases, their license may have expired. Those who have no license obviously have no insurance. Some drivers are licensed but they haven’t bothered to get insurance. Alternatively, their policies may have lapsed or been canceled. Whatever the case, you won’t be able to get compensation from their insurer.
However, a drunk driving attorney in Columbia can still help you. Everyone who applies for car insurance in South Carolina should have coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. You should, therefore, be able to file a claim with your own insurer. Your attorney can help you to put this together. If your insurance company denies your claim or makes a very low offer, your attorney will negotiate with them. If it proves impossible to reach a settlement, you will need your car accident attorney to represent you in court.
You also have the option of pursuing a personal injury suit against the driver. If they were negligent or reckless, they should have to compensate you. However, many unlicensed and uninsured drivers don’t have the assets to pay out large sums. Depending on how much the courts award you, you may not be able to get the full amount.
Time Limits A Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Columbia, SC Will Discuss with You
You have the right to file a suit against the at-fault driver. However, you will need to do so within the time frame set out under the law. In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the accident to sue for property damage or personal injuries. If you miss the deadline, the court will likely throw out your case. Because of this, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Three years can seem like a long time. However, if you don’t decide to take legal action immediately after the accident, the time will quickly slip away. Many victims wait until several attempts to settle with their insurance company fail before they file a lawsuit. This is understandable but you want to give your drunk driving attorney lots of time to make a case. It is best to contact a lawyer as soon as you can. They can advise you on how to proceed and keep track of the deadlines.
Call a Columbia Drunk Driving Accident Attorney at Connell Law Today!
Drivers know that accidents happen. Many times, they are minor fender benders which don’t result in injuries. Any resulting damage is usually taken care of by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Accidents involving drunk drivers can be much more serious and more complicated. Vehicle damage may be significant and the injuries may be severe.
Negotiating with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit is overwhelming. You shouldn’t have to go through it alone. Instead, trust the experienced drunk driving accident attorneys at Connell Law Firm. They will see your case through from consultation to settlement.