In 2013, approximately 44% of the reported traffic deaths (335 total) were related to drunk driving. This is considerably higher than the national average, which was 31% percent in that year, and is a big concern. Getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs is dangerous. Even if the driver was under the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08%, he/she could face civil and criminal charges for causing an accident while under the influence. If the driver who caused your recent crash was intoxicated, you need help from a reliable team of Charleston DUI accident lawyers. HawkLaw, located in Mount Pleasant and throughout South Carolina, has experience representing victims in drunk and driving under the influence (DUI) accident claims and wants to hear from you after an alcohol-related collision.
Liability for DUI Accidents in South Carolina
In most DUI accidents cases, victims can hold the driver responsible for damages such as medical bills, hospital stays, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Chemical tests and field sobriety tests can serve as proof of the driver’s intoxication from alcohol or drugs, as can testimony from the arresting officer and video footage of the driver and the traffic stop. Interviews with eyewitnesses may also serve as evidence – if someone saw the driver swerving, breaking roadway rules, or drinking prior to driving. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to settle your claim without a trial, but this isn’t always the best route for accident victims.
Settling with an insurance company often results in less compensation than you could receive in a personal injury claim. In a case involving a drunk driver, you could file a negligence and a criminal claim against the defendant simultaneously. On top of a criminal conviction and sentencing, the driver would also have to pay the amount the courts awarded injured accident victims or the family members of those who died in the accident. Speak to a Charleston DUI accident lawyer to discuss insurance settlements versus personal injury claims.
The most obvious defendant in a DUI crash claim is the drunk driver. However, there may also be a third party responsible for the accident. South Carolina’s dram shop laws make it possible to file a claim against the shop or individual who provided the alcohol to the drunk driver in certain situations. To be liable under dram shop laws, an entity must have sold or distributed the alcohol when it was “reasonably foreseeable” that the person would drive drunk and potentially cause an accident. If the driver was under the legal drinking age of 21, the plaintiff could also file a claim against a social host, if said host knew or should have known the drinker was underage.
How to File a Claim After a DUI Accident
Proving fault for a DUI accident takes four main elements. First, you must show the defendant owed you a duty of care. This is easy since all drivers have the duty to prevent harm to others on the roadway. Second, that the defendant breached this duty. If the driver was operating the vehicle after drinking or taking drugs, this is a breach of duty. Third, the breach caused the accident. For example, a driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but a malfunctioning traffic light caused the crash, you would likely have a case against the party responsible for the light, not the driver.
Fourth, you sustained damages because of the crash. This includes property damage, personal injury, and financial losses. In South Carolina, you have three years to bring a claim. The clock starts ticking either on the date of the accident or the date you discovered your accident-related injuries. The sooner you file, the sooner you can move on from a devastating DUI accident.
Seek Council from Our Charleston DUI Accident Attorneys
At HawkLaw, we offer confidential, free consultations* after a DUI Accident in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant. You can explain what happened and hear your legal options.
Call (888) HAWKLAW to get in touch with our local attorneys in Charleston and throughout South Carolina today!
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