I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver, Can I Sue?
There are too many drunk drivers on South Carolina’s roads, and they are a definite danger to public safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk drivers killed 3,870 people in South Carolina in a ten-year period from 2003 to 2012. They have also injured tens of thousands more.
As a leading Greenville, South Carolina law firm, we receive many questions from the public.
One of the more common is, “I was hit by a drunk driver, can I sue?” The answer is an emphatic “yes,” but you need to analyze the following with an experienced car accident attorney.
Is a Drunk Driver at Fault?
Under South Carolina law, a driver who is negligent must pay compensation to those they injure. This includes any passengers in their vehicle as well as other motorists and pedestrians. A driver is negligent when he fails to use ordinary care while operating his vehicle.
Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is clearly a form of negligence. In fact, it is probably even worse—pure recklessness, in our opinion—so it renders the driver at fault for the collision, which means our clients can sue for compensation.
Should You Try to Settle?
You can make a claim for compensation with the drunk driver’s insurance company. South Carolina requires that all motorists carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person, up to $50,000 per accident. There are advantages to settling rather than suing. For one, you will be guaranteed some money. You also can avoid the stress of a trial.
To bring a claim, you will probably want to use police evidence that the driver was intoxicated. You can speak to an attorney about how to obtain a copy of the police report, which will prove very helpful. If successful, you should receive compensatory damages for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
What are Punitive Damages?
A defendant pays punitive damages as a form of punishment. Punitive damages are above and beyond the compensatory damages described above. South Carolina law allows a victim to seek punitive damages when clear and convincing evidence shows the defendant’s conduct was reckless, willful, or wanton.
Punitive damages are sometimes available in drunk driving cases. Your attorney can explain more about the process for getting punitive damages in South Carolina.
South Carolina only lets injured motorists sue within 3 years of the accident. This might sound like a lot of time, but you should move quickly. The clock starts ticking from the date of the accident, and before you know it 3 years have passed. If you don’t bring a lawsuit in a timely manner, a judge can dismiss your case.
Speak to a South Carolina car accident attorney today. Car accident cases involving a drunk driver can be more complicated than other car wrecks, so hiring an attorney is good insurance. At Peace Law Firm, we have the tools needed to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free, confidential consultation.