Drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol put others who share the road at risk for accidents, injuries, and death. Victims of serious drunk driving accidents often spend weeks or months in the hospital recovering.
Unfortunately, some suffer permanent limitations or disabilities, never regaining the physical losses caused by the accident. Significant medical expenses, lost wages from missing work, and other accident-related costs can create a serious burden for victims and their families. The emotional and financial stress following a serious accident can be overwhelming for most households.
After sustaining injuries in a drunk driving accident, South Carolina law permits victims to seek compensation for accident-related losses and injuries. At Hughey Law Firm, we understand the challenges victims and their families face in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, and we are here to help. Contact one of our skilled South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyers for a free consultation to discuss an accident, your injuries, and how your life was affected.
Hughey Law Firm’s Results With South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Claims
The experienced drunk driving accident attorneys at Hughey Law Firm regularly help accident victims seek justice and the compensation they deserve for their injuries. The firm’s commitment to client service, case preparation, and professional excellence have led to the recovery of millions of dollars in jury awards and settlements for their clients.
Some recent case results include:
- A $2,000,000 settlement for the estate of a man who was killed by a teen drunk driver.
- A $500,000 recovery for a client who suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident.
- A $365,000 recovery for a client who suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident after someone served alcohol to an underage driver.
- A $282,500 recovery for a client who suffered injuries after a driver left the bar and struck him.
- Two $250,000 recoveries for drunk driving accident victims who suffered injuries after drivers had been drinking in a bar.
Listed above are only examples of case results and do not guarantee a specific outcome for your drunk driving accident claim. Each case has unique underlying facts that may add to or detract from its value, making it impossible to precisely predict any specific outcome.
The dedicated legal team at Hughey Law Firm has the knowledge and resources to investigate the circumstances of your accident, aiming to build the strongest case possible. We strive to maximize compensation for each of our clients to ensure they are not burdened by the costs associated with their accident injuries.
South Carolina Dram Shop Law
Insurance companies and courts sometimes have difficulties assigning fault for some traffic collisions. However, a driver who consumes too much alcohol can make determining fault much more straightforward. Although exceptions exist, it’s difficult for a drunk driver’s insurance company or attorney to fight an accident claim when the drunk driver was legally impaired.
South Carolina, along with several other states, has enacted a dram shop law, which provides for liability for third-parties who are not directly involved in a drunk driving accident.
- The establishment or their employee served alcohol to a minor.
- The establishment or their employees served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.
South Carolina’s dram shop law does not apply to social hosts. For example, a driver may have too much to drink at his or her friend’s birthday party a few miles away and caused an accident on the way home. South Carolina laws prohibiting serving alcohol to an obviously drunk person do not apply to the friend who hosted the party.
Minors, on the other hand, are exceptions to the rule exempting social hosts from liability. Any adult that supplies alcohol to an underage driver can be liable for damages from a drunk driving accident, despite their role as a social host.
South Carolina Drunk Driving Accidents Cause Severe Injuries
South Carolina consistently ranks in the top-five states with the most drunk driving accidents and most drunk driving-related fatalities. Drunk driving fatalities represent approximately 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in South Carolina. And, across the state, more than 25,000 non-fatal drunk driving collisions occur each year.
Many drunk driving accident victims escape with no injuries or minor injuries that heal quickly and with relatively insignificant medical expenses. On the other hand, serious drunk driving accidents, especially those that occur at high speeds, often lead to life-threatening, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.
Experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyers regularly help victims hold drunk drivers accountable for their careless and irresponsible behavior when it causes harm to others. Examples of preventable drunk driving accident injuries that may give rise to an accident claim and potential lawsuit include:
A simple fracture or clean break of a bone typically requires a cast and only a couple of months of healing. Broken bones typically heal completely, allowing drunk driving accident victims to quickly get their lives back together. Unfortunately, other times, accident victims who sustain broken bones may suffer lifelong complications.
Multiple fractures or crushed bones often require one or more corrective or reconstructive surgeries. However, surgical procedures cannot always fix severely broken bones.
Some drunk driving accident victims suffer chronic discomfort, chronic pain, and arthritis after experiencing broken bones. Severe fracture injuries often require accident victims to miss weeks or months of work, resulting in devastating financial impacts on the victim’s household.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
According to the National Institute of Health, traffic collisions, including those involving alcohol, are the number one cause of brain injuries in young adults. When vehicles collide in a drunk driving accident, the force of the impact may cause an individual’s brain to strike the inside of their skull, leading to brain damage.
Drivers and occupants sometimes suffer TBIs when their head impacts objects inside the vehicle, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. Some minor traumatic brain injuries heal quickly without intervention or long-term consequences for victims. However, depending on the circumstances, even a mild concussion can impact a victim for the rest of their life.
Victims who sustain permanent brain damage may suffer lifelong challenges with cognition and motor function and may experience personality changes, such as increased aggression. Spending on the area of the brain that suffers damages, each TBI patient can experience a range of challenges. Some injuries might require surgery, while others can find relief in prescription medication or therapy.
The same force that causes TBIs in drunk driving accident victims also sometimes causes neck injuries, commonly in the form of whiplash. The impact of the crash causes a person’s neck to quickly flex and extend, often causing injury to the area. Minor neck injuries typically include sprains and strains in one’s neck muscles that heal after a few months. More severe neck injuries include fractured neck vertebrae and torn muscles or other soft tissue.
Depending on the severity of the injury and the exact type of neck injury, some drunk driving accident victims may suffer lifelong discomfort. Drunk driving accident neck injuries commonly cause chronic migraines, headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain.
Back injuries are among the most painful and crippling injuries a drunk driving accident victim can suffer. Accident victims whose injuries cause chronic back pain often experience discomfort whether standing up, sitting in a chair, or lying down in a bed. Oftentimes, severe back injuries require surgery, but surgery rarely results in full recovery or complete elimination of pain.
Many back injury patients unfortunately must rely on addictive pain medication or cortisone shots to manage pain—neither of which are healthy long-term solutions. In some cases, doctors may implant pain management devices to help decrease discomfort, but patients must still learn to cope with lifelong, chronic pain. Drunk driving accidents can lead to herniated discs, slipped discs, and broken vertebrae. Recovery from a severe back injury is a long process, and victims sometimes never return their pre-accident condition.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are the most severe type of neck and back injuries, typically involving devastating consequences. When vertebrae are fractured, shards of bone can puncture or become lodged in the spinal cord, causing permanent damage. Damage to the spinal cord prevents the body’s central nervous system from passing signals to and from the brain. Disrupted signals often result in loss of function, which may be permanent in the most severe cases. Drunk driving accident victims who suffer spinal cord injuries can face a wide range of functional limitations.
The extent of functional loss depends on the location of the spinal cord injury along the spinal column. Typically, loss of function occurs in the limbs below the site of the injury, so injuries that occur closer to the brain result in greater limitations in functioning than spinal cord injuries in the lower back. As spinal cord injuries require extensive medical intervention, they are among the most expensive to treat. Additionally, the most serious spinal cord injuries may require full-time care in a long-term nursing facility, a costly consequence that is typically not covered by insurance.
Receiving Compensation for South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Should you choose to take legal action against the drunk driver and/or responsible third party, you may be entitled to recover compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering.
Common damages awarded to drunk driving accident victims include:
- Medical expenses including ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospitalization, followup visits, surgery, aftercare, radiology, lab testing, medication, and costs for traveling to and from the doctor.
- Estimated future medical treatment costs when a drunk driving accident results in a severe injury requiring extensive recovery or a permanent disability requiring ongoing care.
- Rehabilitation costs for victims to regain lost function, learn new ways of doing regular tasks, and help victims cope with severe or permanent injuries.
- Costs for assistive devices such as wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and canes.
- Lost wages for missing work because of drunk driving accident injuries, hospitalization, and rehabilitation.
- Estimated future lost wages when a drunk driving accident results in a catastrophic injury that prevents accident victims from returning to their job or seeking gainful employment in the future.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Reduced quality of life.
- Loss of consortium with a spouse.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
- Punitive damages are available only in the most egregious cases and are intended as a punishment to deter drunk drivers from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
South Carolina law also permits eligible surviving family members to take legal action when a drunk driving accident causes the loss of a loved one. Depending on your relationship with the deceased, you might recover some of the damages listed above through a wrongful death claim. In addition, you may be entitled to seek compensation for funeral costs, burial or cremation expenses, and losses specific to your relationship.
For example, surviving spouses sometimes receive compensation for loss of companionship and minor children receive loss of parental support and guidance. A South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyer can determine the viability of your case and offer guidance for you and your family during this difficult time.
South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident FAQs: How to Protect Your Rights
Deciding to get behind a wheel while drunk is not an accident. It is criminal behavior that puts innocent lives in danger and results in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Sadly, victims of this devastating accident are not only left with skyrocketing medical expenses and debilitating damages, but their future is often permanently altered.
However, if you have been involved in a drunk driving accident, you do not have to go through this horrific ordeal on your own. In this blog post, we will discuss some frequently asked questions associated with South Carolina drunk driving accidents and explain how we can help you get through this difficult time and fight for the justice you deserve.
What steps do I need to take following a drunk driving accident in South Carolina?
Many times following a drunk driving accident, the scene is chaotic, and the whole situation may seem overwhelming. Yet, even though you may feel helpless. There are, in fact, specific actions you can take that will not only help keep you safe but help protect your individual legal rights as well.
These critical steps include:
- Call the police: Immediately following your accident, you need to call 911. The officers can provide you with emergency medical help, conduct an investigation into the accident, and prepare a police report of their findings. If you decide to pursue a claim, this report could provide you with essential and valuable information about the accident.
- Collect evidence: If it is safe, try to get as many pictures and videos of the accident scene as you can. Include photos of your injuries, the vehicles involved in the crash, skid marks on the road, traffic signs near the crash, and even the weather conditions at the time of the accident.
- Driver information: Try to get the name, contact information, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers of all the drivers involved in the car crash.
- Witness details: If any individuals saw the accident happen, get their name and contact information. Their statements and pictures can provide you with critical evidence that could help you prove liability and damages.
- Contact an Experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney at the Hughey Law Firm: If you have been in a drunk driving crash, you need to contact an experienced and skilled South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can get to work figuring out what happened and determining who was at fault for your accident, as well as building the strongest case on your behalf.
My South Carolina drunk driving accident injuries appear minor. Do I still need to see a doctor?
Yes. Even if you believe your injuries are not that serious, you should see a medical professional. Many times, these injuries are not readily apparent and remain hidden for some time. This can result in lasting damage if you do not act fast. That is why it can be imperative to get examined by a doctor as quickly as possible.
Additionally, when you get checked over by a doctor following your accident, they will write down their observations in their medical report. This report can be vital evidence that could help you prove the damages you experienced due to the accident and the extent of those damages.
The insurance company keeps calling me. Should I talk to them following my South Carolina drunk driving accident?
Many people assume that following an accident, the insurance company will work with them, compensating them quickly for their damages. Unfortunately, the insurance company may not work this way. An insurance company is a business. As a result, they might try to do anything they can to deny your claim or provide you the least amount of money possible. Consequently, when an adjuster calls you following your drunk driving accident, you should be careful with what you say.
Do not admit fault for the crash or apologize for any part of it. These types of statements can give the insurance company all they need to reduce the amount of your claim. That is why it is in your best interest to provide the insurance company only basic details about the crash and indicate that all future communications will be through your lawyer. Once your attorney takes over these discussions, they could help ensure that you do not say anything that may hinder your case’s outcome.
If I was involved in a drunk driving accident a year ago, do I still have time to bring a claim in South Carolina?
Yes, but you should not wait much longer. The amount of time you have to file a claim is referred to as the statute of limitations. If this deadline expires before you bring your claim, you can’t collect damages for your injuries. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a South Carolina drunk driving accident claim is three years from the accident date. However, there are exceptions to this statute, and depending on your circumstances, this time could be “tolled.”
For these reasons, it is best not to wait any longer. Instead, contact an experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney as soon as possible. Do not forget that bringing a South Carolina drunk driving accident claim can be time-consuming work. Your lawyer needs to do a thorough investigation into the accident to determine what happened and who was at fault. You want your lawyer to have enough time to perform this investigation. That is why the sooner you call, the longer they have to prepare the best case on your behalf.
What type of damages can I recover following a South Carolina drunk driving accident?
If you were involved in a drunk driving accident and suffered harm because of the at-fault driver’s negligence. You could bring a lawsuit requesting compensation for your damages. These damages may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are verifiable losses that you suffered as a result of the accident. They can include:
- Medical expenses, including past, current, and future medical bills and treatment costs. These medical costs also include reimbursement for emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs, and ambulance transportation.
- Lost wages, including past, current, and future lost wages from not working or having to take on a job that pays less because of your accident-related disability.
- Lost earning capacity.
- Property damages, including the replacement or repair of your vehicle. It can also include other property damages, such as damage to your trailer, motorcycle, bike, or even your home if a car crashed into it.
- In-home assistance.
- Rehabilitation therapy, including vocational, physical, and occupational therapy.
- Medical devices, including a wheelchair, crutches, modifications to your home, and hospital beds.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages are rather subjective losses that are not easily verifiable. They could include:
- Pain and suffering, which considers both the emotional turmoil and physical stress you experience as a result of your injuries
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances. Specifically, when the court wants to punish the defendant for their egregious or terrible actions, such as drunk driving. These damages do not compensate the victim, they punish and deter the defendant from committing these actions again in the future.
Additionally, in a wrongful death lawsuit, family members can seek certain damages after losing their loved one. These damages can include burial and funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of companionship, and loss of love and guidance.
Speaking with a skilled South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney about your losses can help you understand which damages are possible in your case and how much compensation you need to pursue.
If the insurance company sends me a check for my damages following a South Carolina drunk driving accident, should I accept it?
If you receive a settlement offer following your drunk driving accident, the insurance company may be attempting to settle the issue as quickly and for as little money as possible. You need to remember that settlement offers should cover your losses, including past, current, and future costs. That is why you need to think long and hard before you accept any money from the insurance company. Once you do, you cannot ask for further compensation.
The insurance company may try to provide you with as little compensation as they can. When they offer you a settlement amount, they might not consider the full extent of your injuries or look into your injuries’ long-term impact. Many times, when victims receive these checks, they do not even know the long-term results of their own injuries.
That is why before you accept any compensation from the insurance company, you should speak with a skilled and knowledgeable South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney first. These lawyers can review your damages, evaluate your case, and let you know if this settlement amount is fair to you. If it is not, they can take over the communications and negotiations with the insurance company and go after a settlement amount that you deserve.
Can I sue an establishment that provided or sold alcohol to the at-fault driver before the South Carolina drunk driving accident crash?
Unlike many states, South Carolina does not have specific dram shop statutes. These dram shop and social host laws maintain that the individuals who are injured by the drunk driver could hold the bar, establishment, or host liable for damages if a restaurant, bar, establishment, or a social host serves alcohol to a driver and then knowingly allows the driver to get behind the wheel when they are drunk.
Even though South Carolina does not have these social host or dram shop laws, the courts do allow injured victims to seek compensation from people or establishments that over-serve alcohol to drivers.
It is illegal to knowingly serve alcohol to intoxicated or underage drinkers in South Carolina. However, to pursue these actions, the victim needs to show that either the establishment knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated individual or the establishment knew that the alcohol purchaser was under the age of 21. If the victim can prove these factors, the establishment may be responsible for the intoxicated purchaser’s actions.
That is why working with an experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyer can be so crucial. These attorneys can look into these laws and determine if you can go after an establishment, bar, or restaurant for the injuries you sustained.
Why do I need a South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney fighting on my behalf?
In South Carolina, the criminal court will punish a drunk driver for breaking the laws. However, if you were hurt in a South Carolina drunk driving accident, you could pursue a claim for your damages. With the help of a South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney, you can go after this compensation and fight for the justice you deserve.
These lawyers can help:
- Answer any questions you may have, and make sure you understand all the legalities involved with your claim.
- Take care of the paperwork, motions, and necessary filings, helping ensure that the documents are adequately prepared and filed promptly.
- Investigate the accident, gather critical evidence, speak with relevant witnesses, and collect essential reports to prove liability and damages.
- Bring in the experts, including accident recreationists, engineers, economists, and doctors who can show the extent of your damages and substantiate your claims.
- Handle all the negotiations with the insurance company, making sure you and your case are treated fairly.
- If needed, take your case to trial, and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Carolina drunk driving accident. Do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney today. Let these lawyers fight for the justice you want and the compensation you need.
Call Us to Get the Legal Help You Need After a South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident
The skilled South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Hughey Law Firm is familiar with the numerous challenges faced by victims and their families following a drunk driving accident. Retaining an experienced attorney to handle the legal aspects of a claim, allows victims to focus on their recovery and rehabilitation. Victims shouldn’t be personally responsible for losses caused by a negligent driver who chose to drink and drive.
If you’ve suffered injuries or a family member has died in a drunk driving accident, you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact Hughey Law Firm today or call us at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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