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.