Our firm holds drunk drivers accountable!! On September 10, 2021, Robert F. Goings and Jessica L. Gooding of the Goings Law Firm, LLC won a jury verdict in the amount of $12,500,000.00 for a client involved a car collision in Columbia involving a drunk driver. The verdict comprised of $3,500,000.00 in actual damages and $9,000,000.00 in punitive damages, reflecting the egregious conduct of a drunk and intoxicated driver endangering the public. This verdict is considered the largest jury verdict in Richland County history in a non-fatality automobile collision. The client sustained $380,000 in medical bills for treatment to his right shoulder, neck, and low back caused in a rear end collision on I-77 in a work zone, including being out of work for approximately two years following the collision. Our firm has a reputation for getting results in the courtroom, and this verdict is another testament of our ability to hold drunk drivers accountable for their reckless and illegal conduct. If you or your loved ones have been injury or killed in a collision caused by a drunk driver, please call or text our law firm today at 803-350-9230 for a free, no obligation consultation.
This case was featured on the front page of The State Newspaper in South Carolina. Here is the article:
Richland County jury awards $12.5M to man in DUI crash
By: John Monk
COLUMBIA, SC: A Richland County jury awarded $12.5 million in damages to a highway worker who was severely injured on Interstate 77 in 2018 by a car driven by a man characterized during his trial as a “habitual drunken driver.”
The jury was out less than three hours and returned a verdict late Friday, said Columbia attorney Robert Goings, who represented the injured worker, Keith Bookman before State Judge Grace Knie.The $12.5 million verdict includes $3.5 million in actual damages and $9 million in punitive damages, according to court records.
In 2018, Columbia-area attorney Jason Buffkin crashed his Honda into the rear of Bookman’s truck, which was in the northbound lane of I-77 near the Garners Ferry Road exit. At the time of the crash, Bookman, 51, was part of a road crew and the truck he was driving was traveling north on the interstate at the end of a small caravan of trucks sweeping the interstate of debris from roadside construction.
The flashing message on the back of Bookman’s truck said, “Right Lane Closed,” with an arrow pointing to the left lane, Goings said.
Evidence at the four-day trial last week showed that Bookman’s medical expenses related to the crash were approximately $380,000 for surgeries to his shoulder, neck and lower back, said Goings, who tried the case with partner Jessica Gooding.
The evidence before the jury also showed that Buffkin had a blood alcohol content of .148 some four hours after the crash, Goings said.
In his final argument to jurors, Goings said he told them, “You need to return a verdict that is big enough to make it in the newspaper, to send a message to any drunk driver that is out there that drunk driving is not tolerated in Richland County — that our lives, our families’ lives are worth more than to be endangered by a reckless, careless drunk driver.”
Buffkin could not be reached for comment.
Buffkin’s attorney, Deidre Smallwood of Columbia, told The State Monday, “I am no longer involved with that” and had no further comment.
A lawsuit in the case said that between 2001-2018, Buffkin was charged with three DUIs, twice in South Carolina and once in Virginia.
In his answer to the allegations about previous DUI arrests, Buffkin’s lawsuit argued that those DUI charges “lack relevance,” were inadmissible in the trial and “not appropriate facts to be included in” this trial.
“The jury did get to hear that evidence, which showed the duration of his conduct,” Goings said Tuesday.
Steven Burritt, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, in South Carolina, said in his experience that size of a verdict is “unprecedented.”
“I can’t recall hearing anything that large in a DUI case,” Burritt said.
“That jury took the opportunity to express just how serious this crime is, and how frustrating it is to see this kind of behavior, which puts all of us at risk.” Burritt said. “The jurors said, ‘Here’s something we can do — we can send a message.’”
Collecting a sizable judgment is always uncertain and it remains uncertain how much of the $12.5 million verdict will be received.
But, Goings said, “We plan to exhaust all avenues to collect on the verdict.”
One of the types of cases the Goings Law Firm handles the most involves drunk driving car collisions. We are offended by drunk drivers, and we fight hard to make sure those intoxicated drivers stay off the road. We demand that drunk drivers pay our clients a lot of money for the harm they cause.
Injuries caused by drunk driving are often times result in civil lawsuits. Drunk drivers can face serious criminal charges, with penalties including suspend licenses, fines, and jail time, but in order for you to be compensated for your injuries or the death of a family member, you will need to bring a civil claim. Because of the egregious nature of alcohol related collision, juries can award large verdicts to punish and deter the drunk driver from doing this again to others. Because of this, the most important thing you can do if you were hit by an intoxicated drive is call an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney. In order to be fully compensated from a DUI collision, an aggressive team of attorneys with the Goings Law Firm will answer all of your questions.
Our firm take an aggressive approach to prosecuting the drunk driver in civil court for the needless harm that they cause our clients. In the legal profession, our firm is best known for fighting against drunk drivers. Drunk drivers kill. Every day, almost 30 people in the United States are killed in drunk-driving crashes—that’s one person every 48 minutes. South Carolina ranks as the 2nd worst in DUI related fatalities in the nation based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drunk drivers also cause serious bodily injury. We understand the devastating effects that drunk drivers can cause and that is why we are one of South Carolina’s leading litigation firms aimed at protecting injury victims that result from DUIs or other alcohol related collision. Because the actions of the drunk driver are illegal and reckless, we believe that you should be paid much more. We fight drunk driving cases hard so you receive the best results in not only fully recovering all for your medical expenses, disability, pain and suffering, but also “punitive damages” design to punish and deter this reckless conduct.
The Case Against the Drunk Driver
The legal claims against the drunk driver is based on negligence and violations of statutory laws that prohibit impaired or intoxicated driving. In South Carolina, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Often times the drunk driver will refuse to take a breathalyzer test or provide a blood sample to legally establish blood alcohol content when they are arrested. The failure to administer these tests does not prevent our firm from proving the driver was drunk. Even in these cases, we have the tools to find the evidence to prove that the drunk driver was intoxicated through assembling strong fact and expert witnesses to testify against the driver. Also, under the rules of civil discovery, we routinely subpoena phone records, bank records, medical records, and other relevant documents of the at-fault driver that would aid in proving that the driver was drunk. We will also put the driver under oath in a deposition or a court proceeding. If the driver pleas the Fifth Amendment in the deposition, we ask the court to give an ‘adverse inference’ that if the driver did answer the question he would admit that he was intoxicated. We will fight to ensure that you get the full amount of recovery against the drunk driver.
The Case Against Who Illegally Served Alcohol to the Drunk Driver
The efforts of our firm to collect money for our clients does not stop with the intoxicated driver. We investigate thoroughly to determine who served alcohol to the driver or those that enabled the illegal conduct prior to the driver getting behind the wheel. The State of South Carolina allows you to file a civil case against the private host who provided alcohol to an underage or obviously intoxicated guest. This state has laws in order to discourage serving alcohol to already drunk guests and to hold party hosts accountable if their intoxicated guests leave and cause an accident. We pursue claims against the party host, and regularly bring legal claims against the convenient stores, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and businesses that may have illegally served alcohol to them as permitted under South Carolina’s dram shop and alcohol liability laws.
The Case Against the Owner of the Vehicle
Additionally, we will explore if a “negligent entrustment” claim exists against the owner of the vehicle. If the drunk driver is operating a vehicle he does not own, you may have the option to sue the vehicle owner for negligent entrustment. In the past, we often successfully argued that if the owner gave the drunk person the keys to their vehicle, it is likely that they were aware of the intoxication and unable to drive. If a negligent entrustment claim is successfully proven, the vehicle’s owner is also liable for the vehicle accident.
Workers Compensation Claim if the Drunk Driver Hits You On the Job
Another consideration is whether workers’ compensation applies. If you were hit by a drunk driver while working or on the job, then you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Many of the DUI related collisions that we handle involve a workers’ compensation claim because the collision occurred while driving for work. The workers’ compensation carrier would have a “lien” on any civil court recovery but it is important to handle these cases through an experienced attorney so that you do not waive any rights to recovery. Because the Goings Law Firm handles both workers compensation and civil litigation claims, so we have the knowledge and expertise to successfully manage both cases in order to maximize your total recovery.
Contact an Highly Rated Drunk Driving Injury Attorney in South Carolina
The best advice is to contact today a highly-rated law firm that handles DUI injury and wrongful deaths to request a free consultation. Our proven track record of success in South Carolina against drunk drivers is what we are known for. The Goings Law Firm has the reputation of representing victims of serious injuries or deaths throughout South Carolina, and is ready to help you get the answers you deserve and the compensation you are entitled to receive. It is important to contact our firm before you speak with an insurance company or provide a statement to an insurance adjuster. Even if the insurance company representative tells you that you that your claim will be processed, it is our experience that you may not get the benefits that you are entitled to receive without the best legal representation. In order to be fully compensated from a DUI collision, contact an aggressive team of attorneys with the Goings Law Firm, LLC will help you today. Call us at (803) 350-9230 for a free, no obligation, consultation.
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.
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.
On Tuesday, July 21, a deadly accident on South Carolina Highway 17 in Myrtle Beach has left two people dead and six people in the hospital. The crash happened when the driver of a black Mercedes collided with a red Dodge minivan while the van was making a left turn at an intersection.
According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the driver of the Mercedes that caused the auto accident has been charged with two counts of reckless homicide. The driver has also been charged for driving with an open container. The minivan was carrying a family from North Carolina, and the driver of the Mercedes was from Louisiana. On July 23rd, a South Carolina court denied bond for the Louisiana man causing the accident. For further developments in the story, click here.
At the Goings Law Firm, LLC, we believe that reckless drivers and people who drive under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. While the law in South Carolina affords criminal penalties in cases like this one, victims and their families may also be able to seek civil penalties against reckless drivers for the damage that they have caused. Like in this case, when a tragic wrongful death occurs as the result drunk driving, we seek punitive damages to punish and deter further wrongful conduct in the state of South Carolina. If you or a loved one has been the victim of this or a similar accident, then contact the experienced legal team at the Goings Law Firm, LLC today for a free case consultation. Contact us by clicking here, or calling (803) 350-9230.