Without a doubt the best way to fully recover financially for injuries sustained by a drunk driver is to hire the best attorney you can find and not talk with the insurance company representative or adjuster without legal representation. Our firm has the experience and reputation in South Carolina of fighting against drunk and impaired drivers. Our firm works with M.A.D.D of South Carolina (Mothers’ Against Drunk Driving) to ensure that impaired drivers, and those that enable the intoxicated motorists, are punished financially for the injuries and harm that they cause to innocent victims of these crimes.
Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers Require an Attorney Who Can Secure the Evidence Before it Gets Destroyed.
If you or a member of your family were involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by a drunk or impaired driver, it is important to contact an experienced and respected personal injury attorney without delay. A collision that is caused by drunk or intoxicated drivers can be much more complex, both factually and legally, than an ordinary automobile collision. It is important to not delay in hiring an experienced attorney to ensure that critical evidence is obtained and a thorough investigation is performed prior to important evidence being destroyed or not preserved. In certain cases involving intoxicated drivers, our firm will obtain a full accident reconstruction and hire experts (such as private toxicologists) to prove, as required by law, that there amount of alcohol or drugs consumed would resulted in appreciable impairment of the ability to safely drive. The evidence that needs to be obtained includes evidence related to the types and amount of alcohol or drugs consumed, surveillance videos, police body camera footage, patrol car footage, social media, credit card receipts, and cell phone data. You should never rely on the police or law enforcement to correctly gather this information. Further, it is important to hire an attorney to assist the police and the prosecutor’s office in providing correct victim impact evidence that may be used to prosecute the drunk driver in criminal court.
You May be Entitled to Punitive Damages against a Drunk Driver
Another reason you need a lawyer to help recover for injuries sustained by a drunk driver is the availability of punitive damages. Punitive damages are not the same as money for pain and suffering. Punitive damages are different than pain and suffering, and can result in a high settlement or judgment in your favor. If you have been hit by a drunk driver, the insurance company will most likely attempt an early settlement with you to avoid paying the full amount of damages you are owed, including punitive damages. One of the reasons the insurance adjuster will try to act early to settle a claim involving a drunk driver is because of punitive damages. The insurance adjuster does not want you to learn about your ability to obtain extra compensation in the form of punitive damages. Our firm has as track records of pursuing and winning settlements and judgments against the drunk driver and the insurance company for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are typically available for recovery against a drunk driver if your case is handled correctly. Punitive damages are reserved for cases in which the at-fault driver’s conduct was particularly reprehensible. A court may impose punitive damages when the at-fault driver is acting recklessly or driving while intoxicated which is considered a conscious disregard for the safety of others. There are many factors that are considered in determined the amount of punitive damages, which include:
- The severity of the injuries the victim sustained;
- The degree of reprehensibility of the action which caused the injury;
- The comparative negligence of the injured party (the extent to which the injured party contributed to the accident);
- The ability of the defendant to pay punitive damages.
In order to be awarded punitive damages, an injured party must be able to prove reckless, willful, or wanton conduct by clear and convincing evidence. In South Carolina, the General Assembly as placed limits on the amount of damage awards. If a jury finds that punitive damages are appropriate, it can award an amount up to three (3) times the amount awarded during the compensatory damages determination, or $500,000, whichever is greater. However, these limits or “caps” on punitive damages will be removed entirely if “the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, other than lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with a prescription, or any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the degree that the defendant’s judgment is substantially impaired.” This “alcohol exception” to the punitive damages cap can result in a large award of punitive damages against a drunk driver.
Drunk Drivers Kill and Severely Injury Innocent People – The Statistics Are Alarming!
Drunk drivers inflict great harm on people in our society and the statistics are alarming. In 2018, there were 10,511 deaths alone from drunk-driving crashes, and 29% of all traffic fatalities were caused directly by drunk or impaired driving as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is an average of 1 alcohol-impaired driving death every 50 minutes. Sadly, 231 of the deaths from drunk drivers were children ages 14 and under. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 was 3.4 times higher at night than during the day.n 2018 among the 10,511 alcohol-impaired- driving fatalities, 67 percent (7,051) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher. Also, 87 percent of alcohol related driving deaths or injuries occurred on non-interstate roads compared to 13 percent on interstate roads, and 56 percent occurred in urban areas whereas 44 percent occurred in rural areas.
The estimated economic cost of all alcohol-impaired crashes (involving alcohol-impaired drivers or alcohol-impaired non-occupants) in the United States in 2010 (the most recent year for which cost data is available) was $44 billion. Included in the economic costs are: lost productivity, workplace losses, legal and court expenses, medical costs, emergency medical services, insurance administration, congestion, and property damage. These costs represent the tangible losses that result from motor vehicle traffic crashes. However, in cases of serious injury or death, such costs fail to capture the relatively intangible value of lost quality of life that results from these injuries. When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States in 2010 was an estimated $836 billion, of which $201.1 billion resulted from alcohol-impaired crashes.
Hire an Experienced South Carolina Attorney with the Reputation and Skill of Fighting Against Drunk Drivers
At the Goings Law Firm, we stand up for victims who were injured because of a drunk or impaired driver. Let us stand up and fight for you. Making drunk drivers pay are what we are known in South Carolina, so allow us to put our experience and reputation to work for you today. We have a 5 Star rating from our clients, and our firm has been considered one of the most recognized firms in South Carolina in the fields of personal injury and wrongful death as featured in Best Lawyer, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and many other publications that rate attorneys. Call or text us at (803) 350-9230 for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights.
Robert F. Goings – Top Voted Personal Injury Attorney
When other attorneys believe you are at the Top, it means something! Robert F. Goings was named in the Midlands of South Carolina as the Top Voted attorney in the field of Personal Injury in the 2019 Columbia Business Monthly’s Legal Elite of the Midlands. He was voted to this distinction by other attorneys in the Columbia and Midlands area of South Carolina. It is a great honor to be considered by other attorneys as the Top Voted Personal Injury attorney, and we believe this distinction reflects our firms strong reputation for honesty, hard-work, and dedication to our clients. Robert Goings’ reputation in the legal community as a champion for those who have suffered significant injury or a wrongful death is also reflected in being named to Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in South Carolina by the U.S. News and World Reports. Being a highly rated and well respected law firm in the field of personal injury, wrongful death, and workers compensation takes many years of excellent results for clients. From serious motor vehicle collision caused by drunk drivers to medical malpractice and nursing home neglect, Robert Goings and his team of attorneys are highly rated by other attorneys in the legal profession. To learn more about the 2019 Columbia Business Monthly’s Legal Elite of the Midlands article can be viewed by clicking here.
5 Tips in Hiring the Best Lawyer for Your Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, or Workers’ Compensation Case
We believe that hiring an attorney for your personal injury case is a very important decision. Hiring the right attorney is critical. If you are looking to hire a personal injury attorney, here are some tips for you to consider so that you choose the best attorney for your case:
1. Be Cautious Choosing your Attorney based on a Billboard or a TV Commercial.
- Be careful if you are choosing an attorney solely based on an advertisement. Many times, law firms or attorneys will plaster their names all over billboards around town or run tasteless or cheesy television commercials. Hiring an attorney should not be based on a silly commercial, gimmicky telephone numbers, or promises for a quick check. Don’t be fooled! Ask yourself, do you want an attorney that is spending time their marketing to new clients on TV with cartoon-like characters and big numbers to call, or do you want a serious lawyer that is working hard for clients in and outside of the courtroom? It is hard to be a fighter in the courtroom if your attorney is too busy filming TV commercials or picking out the next billboard to print. We have found that often times the best attorneys don’t need to advertise. And if they do advertise, the advertisement should reflect high achievements and strong ethical commitments to the representation of injured people. We recommend that you hire an attorney who will treat your case as a serious matter and provide you with the best legal representation possible. The Goings Law Firm strives to set itself apart from silly commercial, gimmicky telephone numbers, or promises for a quick check. Instead, we provide sincere, honest and aggressive representation to people and families faced with serious injury and death.
2. Read Online Reviews Before you Hire an Attorney.
- Online reviews from former clients can be very helpful in choosing the best lawyer for your case. When a former client takes the time to leave a review, it helps people searching for an attorney know what law firm would be best suited for their case based on personality, success, and traits that are important to you. You can find reviews on website such as Google, Lawyers.com, and Avvo.com, and we would recommend choosing an attorney with strong recommendations and reviews of former clients. At the same time, we all know that not everybody can be made happy despite how hard you work or how great the result may be for their case. If you are interested in reading the 5 star and 10/10 reviews about the Goings Law Firm and Robert Goings, check out these links: Google Reviews, Lawyers.com Reviews, SuperLawyers Reviews, Avvo.com Reviews. The Goings Law Firm is also featured on Expertise.com as a highly rated and reviewed personal injury firm in Columbia, South Carolina, as shown here.
3. Consider if you want a “High Volume” Law Firm or an Attorney that You Will Give you One-on-One Attention.
- When you are searching for an attorney, it is important to consider if you want a law firm that accepts a “high volume” of cases or claims or if you want a smaller firm that only accepts a select number of clients. Also, do you want your case or file to be a number or would you rather be represented by an attorney who knows you personally and doesn’t treat you as just another number? Because legal matters can often times be complex and time consuming, we have found that we provide the best representation to our clients when our caseload is smaller and more manageable. When a law firm is does not accept a large number of cases, it it naturally easier to develop a relationship with your attorney and for that lawyer to provide one-on-one attention to each client. At the Goings Law Firm, we strive to provide one-on-one attention to each client. You will not be a just a number at our firm. If you want a “high volume” firm, we would not be right fit for you. We don’t operate with a “settlement mill” or “ambulance chaser” mindset, but with the focus on treating you in the same manner we would expect to be treated.
4. Is The Attorney a Real Trial Attorney with Results in Court?
- Another consideration in choosing a personal injury or wrongful death attorney is whether the attorney has a strong track record in going to court. It is important to know if your personal injury attorney has the trial experience to represent you in court. Often times attorneys have no desire or interest in trying cases even though they label themselves as “trial attorneys.” The Goings Law Firm is truly a team of trial attorney who are not scared to go to court! We refuse to take the “low-ball quick check” approach to representing victims. We go to court when necessary. We have found that if the insurance company knows your attorney is willing to take your case to trial before a judge or a jury, then the defendant or insurance company is more likely willing to resolve the case more fairly and with higher compensation. On the other hand, if the defendant or insurance company knows that the attorney has a reputation of never taking the case to trial, then the the defendant or insurance company has no real incentive to fairly compensate you. The Goings Law Firm has made its reputation in the courtroom with verdict after verdict in favor of our clients.
5. Hire an Attorney that Other Attorneys Would Hire.
- Lawyers in the community typically know which lawyers are the best to hire. Asking a lawyer who they would recommend is often a good way to find a lawyer for your case. The Goings Law Firm represents many clients on the recommendation of other attorneys. In fact, attorneys often times refer clients to the Goings Law Firm in situations where a lawsuit is required to be brought in order to get fair compensation. The Goings Law Firm is a firm that other attorneys hire to assist in representing their clients in complex litigation matter involving personal injury, wrongful death, and on the job workers compensation injuries. In fact, Robert F. Goings was named in the Midlands of South Carolina as the Top Voted attorney in the field of Personal Injury in the 2019 Columbia Business Monthly’s Legal Elite of the Midlands. His honor was based on receiving the top number of votes by other attorneys in the Columbia and Midlands area of South Carolina. We believe that you should hire an attorney that other attorney would hire!
As you enjoy the last day of 2019, make sure you’re being safe this is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year in South Carolina and throughout the nation. In fact, South Carolina ranks as the third most dangerous state based on highest crash rates based on the number of licensed drivers.
According to nationwide statistics from AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the odds of getting in a car accident on New Year’s Eve skyrockets because there are more drunk drivers on the road. New Year’s driving statistics from SafeAuto.com show that between 2008 and 2012, January 1st had the highest percentage of alcohol related deaths when compared to other days and holidays. During the holidays, more drivers are alcohol impaired because so many people are going to holiday parties, and drinking alcohol in excessive amounts.
Here are some statistics to keep this New Year’s Eve:
- The five states with the highest crash rates (most dangerous states) were: (1) Mississippi; (2) Oklahoma; (3) South Carolina; (4) Wyoming; (5) Texas
- During the Christmas and New Year’s period last year, there were 285 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in the United States.
- January 1st is the day of the year with the highest percent of deaths related to alcohol from 2008-12.
- Across the country, 36 people, on average, were killed every day in crashes involving alcohol between 2001 and 2005.
- DUI arrests peak between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
- Between Christmas and New Year’s, 40 percent of deadly crashes involve drunk drivers.
- More pedestrians are killed on New Year’s Day than any other day of the year.
- The hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. are the most dangerous during the New Year’s holiday.
Five Years of Fatal Crashes on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in South Carolina
The reported crash rates in South Carolina for the last 5 years on New Years Eve and New Year’s Day is 1.25 crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers. The statistics are as follows:
- 50 Motor Vehicle Collisions in South Carolina that involve fatalities.
- 19 Motor Vehicle Collisions in South Carolina that involve fatalities caused by drunk drivers.
Have you been injured due to a Drunk Driver on New Year’s Day?
If you or a member of your family has been injured as a result of the reckless or drunk driving of someone on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, please contact the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Goings Law Firm today to learn about your rights to financial compensation. We have the experience to fight against drunk drivers to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation. We vigorously pursue legal action against the impaired drivers, and the bars, restaurants, and party hosts that over serve them. Call or text us today at (803) 350-9230 for a free, no obligation consultation.
DISCLAIMER: We are not “BILLBOARD LAWYERS” or “TV LAWYERS”. We are real lawyers that go to court to fight for truth and justice!
A high percentage of serious roadway collisions and fatalities in South Carolina occur on the Interstates. The old saying from the South Carolina Department of Transportation is that roads “can be highways or dieways, the choice is yours.” The only way to prevent collisions and fatalities is to should enforce traffic laws, engineer safer roads and educate drivers of their duties and responsibility behind the wheel.
Several major Interstate roads run through South Carolina, including I-85, I-20, I-95, and I-26. The reason that a high number of serious injuries and fatalities occur on these Interstate highways is due to a combination of heavily traveled and congested roadways, large commercial trucks, and multiple lanes and and motorists are traveling at high speeds. To make matters worse, many of the Interstate highways and bridges in South Carolina are poorly maintained and need immediate repairs. The deteriorating conditions of the roadways are simply not safe for many drivers. The roads and highways of our neighboring states, North Carolina and Georgia, are much safer. Fortunately, in the last several years, the the State of South Carolina has begun much needed road construction to these Interstates. While construction efforts are ongoing, this also leads to more collisions due to the inherit dangerous of driving through construction zones.
Traffic Collision Statistics in South Carolina
141,00o+ traffic collisions in South Carolina in 2017
Greenville and Charleston Counties had the highest amount of traffic collisions in 2017, totaling 34,000 collisions
About 39,000 collisions resulted in injuries
About 925 results in fatalities
On average 1 traffic collision every 3 minutes
Most collisions occur between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Most fatal collision occur between 9:00 pm and midnight
1 person injured every 8.7 minutes
1 fatality every 9.5 hours
One person killed in a DUI .08+ Collision every 28 hours
One Unrestrained Vehicle Occupant killed every 27.5 hours
One Bicyclist killed every 21.5 days
One Motorcyclist killed every 3.1 days
One Pedestrian killed every 2.3 days
One Child Under 6 seriously injured or killed every 9.4 days
Traffic collisions cost South Carolina citizens more than $4.5 billion in economic loss
Primary Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents in South Carolina:
Failure to yield right of way
Improper lane usage
Failure to maintain distance from other vehicles
Driving Impaired or Intoxicated
We Help Injured Drivers in South Carolina
The Goings Law Firm is a South Carolina law firm dedicated to helping people who were injured in motor vehicle collisions caused by the negligence and reckless driving of others on the roadway. Don’t confuse us with as one of those advertising lawyers on TV. You will not find us on TV. We are Real Lawyers who work hard to obtain Real Results. Instead of making cartoons on TV, we are in court working hard to get the best possible financial outcome for our clients.
The Goings Law Firm is a highly-rated law firm featured in publications such as Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. Robert Goings was recently named the Top Personal Injury trial attorney in the Midlands of South Carolina in a recent best attorney review publication. Many of the cases we handle involve large commercial trucks and eighteen wheelers that cause large collisions on the Interstate. We aggressively fight against the trucking industry from allowing unsafe drivers to violate federal and state motor carrier safety laws. Because of our track record of success obtaining large settlements and verdicts for our clients, we are often called to handle cases throughout the entire state in cases involving major collisions that result in serious injury and death.
If you were injured or family member or loved one has suffered a fatality from a car accident or truck accident in South Carolina, contact the Goings Law Firm today at (803) 572-4337 to find out about your legal rights. We are aggressive, yet compassionate. We will ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve though a personal injury or wrongful death legal action.
What are the Alcohol Liability and Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina?
The alcohol liability and dram shop laws in South Carolina can protect victims of alcohol related injury or death. Alcohol has proven to be a lead factor in the cause of injuries and deaths on the highways of South Carolina. South Carolina currently ranks 2nd for the most DUI fatalities per capita in the United States. In recovering for our clients, we do not stop with the drunk driver. We pursue those that cause and enable the drunk driver.
The Goings Law Firm regularly sues restaurants and bar owners, social clubs, and individuals in cases arising from accidents involving the service of alcohol to intoxicated persons and minors. Dram Shop laws are intended to prevent restaurants, bars, and clubs from serving alcohol to minors and serving alcohol to intoxicated persons. If a restaurant, bar, or club violates such Dram Shop laws and someone is injured as a result, the establishment can be held responsible for the injuries. Our attorneys are well versed in these laws and experienced in representing both injured victims involving the sale and service of alcohol.
South Carolina has specific statutory and common law that governs the liability of restaurants, bars, social clubs and even individual people (social hosts) with respect to the service of alcohol under certain situations. These laws govern what is known as dram shop liability, tavern owner liability, liquor liability and social host liability, and they may allow an injured party to hold a restaurant, bar, club, or individual responsible for injuries or death caused by the service of alcohol.
While South Carolina does not have a “Dram Shop Act,” it is illegal in South Carolina to “knowingly” serve alcohol to any person who is intoxicated. To pursue a Dram Shop action, the injured party must apply the criminal statutes governing alcohol control (S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580) and demonstrate that an establishment knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated person. If the injured party can establish that a restaurant or a bar knew or should have known that it was serving an intoxicated person, whether by signs of visible intoxication or based upon the type, number and time period over which the customer consumed alcoholic drinks, that restaurant or bar is liable for the resulting injuries and damages proximately caused by the drunk driver. Additionally, if a restaurant or bar knew or should have known an alcohol purchaser is under 21 years of age, then that restaurant or bar could be liable if the purchaser’s intoxication caused an injury. Similarly, an adult social host who knowingly serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other persons for damages proximately resulting from the host’s service of alcohol.
In a recent case, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a $10 million verdict against The Getaway Lounge & Grill and its owners. See Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge & Grill, Inc., 388 S.C. 407 (2010). The case involved a customer who spent a night visiting a number of bars, including The Getaway, before getting into a motor vehicle collision, which killed the customer and seriously injured the driver of the other vehicle. One of the owners of The Getaway testified that the customer did not appear intoxicated while he was there. Fluid samples taken from the customer’s body indicated that his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) was .212. At trial, a forensic chemistry expert, using a method known as “retrograde extrapolation,” estimated that his BAC when he left The Getaway must have been between .18 and .20 and that, therefore, “he would have been grossly intoxicated and exhibiting symptoms of intoxication.” The Court stated that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the forensic chemist’s expert testimony. Notably, the Court also held that a customer need not be “visibly intoxicated” for the imposition of dram shop liability; rather, “knowledge” of intoxication may be acquired through different mediums. The complexities of the Getaway case demonstrate that it is critical to retain an attorney with experience and knowledge in the area of dram shop litigation.
Dram shop liability is a specialized area of law, both from a practical and a legal perspective. Dram shop cases are often fact-intensive and require extensive resources and experts to prove the elements of the case. Dram shop cases often turn on the issue of liability, making the timely collection and analysis of police reports, receipts, video, social media, and eye witness statements crucial. Dram shop claims involve unique aspects of the law as well. For example, South Carolina’s modified joint and several liability system does not apply to conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol. This has significant consequences in multi-defendant litigation, resulting in the ability to collect 100% of the damages awarded from a restaurant or bar that is found just 1% liable. Also, there is no cap on punitive damages under for negligence based on alcohol liability. Thus, having an attorney experienced in dram shop litigation is crucial to both bringing and defending these claims.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver and you believe a bar or restaurant may be responsible, call us today at 803-350-9230 or contact us online for a free consultation today,
If you are involved in a car and truck accident in South Carolina in which alcohol was involved, multiple parties may be held liable for the damages and injuries that were caused in the alcohol related collision. The obvious liable party is the intoxicated driver, as the at-fault for the accident. In South Carolina however, the injured party may also have a claim against the establishment (bar, restaurant, tavern, convenience store, etc.) that served the driver alcohol prior to the accident under a theory called “dram shop” law.
Although not recognized by statute in South Carolina, dram shop claims have evolved throughout the years by South Carolina Supreme Court decisions. In particular, the Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled in, that a bar can be held liable for injuries an intoxicated patron causes if the bar violated South Carolina state law by over serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer . A “visibly intoxicated” adult is one who a reasonable person knew or should have known the adult was intoxicated, often in light of the person’s behaviors or a blood-alcohol test.
While South Carolina courts recognize the liability of establishments who over-serve their patrons, there previously had been no requirement for establishments to insure themselves for alcohol-related incidents. Due to this lack of mandated risk mitigation, injured persons were often left without proper means to recover expenses incurred from injuries caused by intoxicated individuals, such as medical bills or lost wages. Essentially, bars and restaurants were allowed to over-serve patrons without adequately insuring themselves in the event any of their intoxicated patrons drove drunk or assaulted someone.
One of the problems is purusing a lawsuit against a bar has been the lack of ability to meaningfully recover against the establishment. However, in 2017, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a new law requiring establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption after 5:00 P.M. to maintain liquor liability insurance of at least $1 million. The law, which takes effect on July 1, 2017, applies to both new applicants for liquor permits and licenses, as well as those renewing permits or licenses. This law creates an avenue for an injured person to recover from a bar or restaurant that allows a patron to get drunk or overly intoxicated.
The Goings Law Firm has many years of experience holding these alcohol permit holders legally responsible when allow a patron to get drunk and then drive on our roads endangering innocent lives. We are Real Lawyers who know how to get Real Results for DUI related injuries and deaths. Contact an experienced dram shop and alcohol liability attorney at the Goings Law Firm today at 803-350-9230.
We often are asked by clients if they can sue a bar, restaurant, or business for over-serving a person that caused a drunk driving related accident.
The answer is “YES”.
South Carolina does not have a statutory law known as a “dram stop statute” like many states have enacted governing civil liability for alcohol sales. Rather, through common law, the South Carolina Supreme Court has established legal precedent that allows injured victims to pursue recovery from alcohol-related accidents by creating a duty of care based on statutory laws that govern the sale of alcohol. For example, S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580(1) prohibits the sale of alcohol persons under the age of 21 and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(2) prohibits the sale of the sale alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Most lawsuits filed against bars, taverns, and restaurants assert a theory of negligence that relate to selling alcohol to intoxicated persons. These lawsuits are based on the fact that it is illegal to sell alcohol to a patron if a server knows, or should have known, that the patron is intoxicated. Likewise, a convenience store may be liable if it sells beer to someone underage, and that underage person gets behind the wheel after drinking, causing a serious collision resulting in injury or death.
While South Carolina does not have a specific “dram shop” statute, in July 2017, a new law came into effect in that requires all bars and restaurants that serve alcohol past 5:00 p.m. to carry at least $1 million ($1,000,000) in liquor liability insurance. This statute amends current state alcohol licensing and permit laws by noting that businesses seeking a new permit or to renew an existing one will be affected by the law. The important consideration of this new law is to allow victims to recover due to liability caused by the wrongful serving, consumption, or use of alcoholic beverages. This is especially true because many drunk drivers do not have enough insurance coverage or personal assets that are collectable to pay for the serious harm. Often times, the only way to fully recover for the harm of a drunk driver is to bring a legal claim against the businesses that profit and promote this illegal behavior.
Attorneys that Sue Bars and Drinking Establishments in South Carolina
The Goings Law Firm is known in the legal community for successfully winning lawsuits against bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and drinking establishments. We seek justice against the businesses that profit and promote intoxicated behavior. If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident, call us to explore a legal action against the businesses that enabled that wrongful conduct. Contacting us today is important so that we can begin our investigation and gather critical evidence to help establish liability before it gets lost or destroyed. Contact the attorneys at the Goings Law Firm by calling us at (803) 350-9230 or through our contact page immediately for a FREE consultation.
Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of traffic collisions. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality every 48 minutes in 2017. Based on the legal definition of impaired driving, alcohol-impaired crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above.
According to NHTSA 10,874 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2017. Alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all crash fatalities. Unfortunately, the DUI arrest rate is much lower. Statistics show that with nearly a million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence compared to the 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving that same year.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a DUI crash, you may be wondering what legal action you can take. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
Wrongful death laws allow survivors to pursue monetary compensation for those whose negligence or intentional act of harm caused a loved one’s death. Each state has its own wrongful death statute which governs how a wrongful death action is brought, the types of civil damages that are recoverable, and which family members are allowed to receive compensation. In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except the estate of the deceased person steps in to seek compensation on their behalf. The wrongful death action can only be brought by a person that is determined by the court to be the “personal representative.” So, not just any family members of the deceased to file the claim.
HOW STATE LAWS AFFECT DAMAGES
Though many DUI crashes result in criminal charges, some do not. If your loved one was killed in a drug or alcohol related collision, and the driver was not charged by the police, you still may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court.
South Carolina law also affect how damages are handled. Because a wrongful death case is a civil claim, liability comes in the form of damages, rather than punishment by imprisonment or other penalties that can be decided in a criminal case. South Carolina law the recovery of “compensatory damages, which includes the following:
- Pecuniary Loss – the loss of the deceased’s ability to earn money in which the beneficiary might logically and reasonable have been expected to share, such as money for the care and protection of the deceased’s spouse and children and for the education and training of the deceased’s children. Where the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child exists, pecuniary loss will be presumed.
- Mental Shock and Suffering.
- Wounded Feelings.
- Grief and Sorrow.
- Loss of Companionship.
- Loss of the use and comfort of the deceased’s society, including the loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, and judgment in managing the affairs of the deceased and his or her beneficiaries.
- medical and funeral expenses
In cases involving a drunk or impaired driver, South Carolina law may also permit punitive damages, which are designed the punish a defendant who’s found negligent and deter similar negligent actions in future.
WHEN TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
When a loved one dies in an alcohol-related crash, family members are often left stunned and unsure where to turn for help. Seeking legal advice immediately following the accident is advised, as evidence can be collected and eyewitnesses can be contacted. Memories get fuzzy, damages get repaired and the chance of video or photographic evidence being deleted or lost rises as time passes. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure as much evidence as possible is collected. You should never delay in determining your legal rights.
It is important to know that each state has a unique statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the legal principle that sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In South Carolina, a case generally must be filed within three (3) years of the date of the collision. In certain situations, this statute of limitations may be shortened to two (2) years if for some reason the case is governed by the S.C. Tort Claims Act. It is important to understand that if you fail to bring the case within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will forfeit your rights to assert any action.
LEGAL HELP FOR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have about your case.
The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC have represented many families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our team understands the importance of working quickly to gather evidence that can be used to help us fight for the justice you deserve. We have extensive experience representing the families of victims and other wrongful death claims in Alabama.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone getting behind the wheel when they were intoxicated or otherwise acting irresponsibly, call (803) 350-9230 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.
South Carolina Ranks #2 Worst Drivers in United States as a Result of Drunk Driving Statistics
Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the US and were expected to cause around 40,000 deaths by the end of 2018.
To put it plainly, America’s roads are dangerous. Texting behind the wheel is a major reason for many traffic fatalities, and it’s only getting worse. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving. Plus, cheap gas and a strong economy means America’s 222 million licensed drivers are driving more than ever. More people on the road leads to more accidents and citations.
South Carolina was ranked No. 2 on QuoteWizard’s list for “Best and Worst Drivers” across the United States. Last year, the State of South Carolina came in at No. 4, but an increase in DUIs brought it up in the rankings. Nearly half of all fatal crashes in South Carolina are because of drunk driving, according to the study. Drivers can blame an increase in DUIs for the jump from last year’s rank as the fourth worst drivers to the second worst drivers this year.
However, South Carolina didn’t nab the top spot when it comes to bad drivers — that was Maine; with Nebraska, California and North Dakota rounding out the Top 5.
Rankings for this study by QuoteWizard was determined by accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations and fatalities in each state throughout the year.
The Goings Law Firm is committed to fighting drunk drivers in Court for the harm their cause to innocent people on the roads. We have been awarded large verdicts and settlements for our clients against drunk drivers, and if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call us today at (803) 350-9230 for a Free Consultation to see if we can help you.
South Carolina ranks as the 2nd worst in DUI related fatalities in the nation based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Drunk drivers kill innocent people, or result in serious injuries that have devastating effects on families. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. In fact, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have by law set a threshold making it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. In 2017 there were 10,874 people killed in alcohol-impaired- driving crashes, an average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes. These alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States in 2017. Of the 10,874 people who died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2017, there were 6,618 drivers (61%) who had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 3,075 motor vehicle occupants (28%) and 1,181 nonoccupants (11%).
- In 2017 there were 10,874 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. This totaled 29 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year. (Note: It is illegal in every State to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher.)
- An average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2017.
- The estimated economic cost of all alcohol-impaired crashes (involving alcohol-impaired drivers or alcohol- impaired nonoccupants) in the United States in 2010 (the most recent year for which cost data is available) was $44 billion.
- Of the traffic fatalities in 2017 among chil- dren 14 and younger, 19 percent occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
- The 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage (27%) of drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher in fatal crashes compared to other age groups in 2017.
- The percentage of drivers with BACs
of .08 g/dL or higher in fatal crashes in 2017 was highest for fatalities involving motorcycle riders (27%), comparedto passenger cars (21%), light trucks (20%), and large trucks (3%).
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 was 3.6 times higher at night than during the day.
- In 2017 among the 10,874 alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities, 68 percent (7,368) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher.
There is some good new too — Fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased by 1.1 percent (10,996 to 10,874 fatalities) from 2016 to 2017. Alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities in the past 10 years have declined by 7 percent from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,874 in 2017. The national rate of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 was 0.34 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), down from 0.35 in 2016. The alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate in the past 10 years has declined by 13 percent, from 0.39 in 2008 to 0.34 in 2017. At the Goings Law Firm, we believe that one DUI related fatality is one too many. Drinking and driving have consequences, and it’s our mission to make sure at the drunk driver pays for the injuries and harm they inflict on the innocent. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driver related motor vehicle crash, call us today for a free, no obligation, consultation– the number is 803-350-9230.
Source: National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2018, November). Alcohol- impaired driving: 2017 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 630). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.