According to reporting from WBTW News 13, the Georgetown Bridge recently closed down for several hours after a four car accident blocked off multiple lanes. Following an investigation of the wreck, the South Carolina Highway Patrol announced that it was bringing criminal DUI charges against a 67 year old man who was believed to be at fault for the accident. The good news is that despite the seriousness of the crash, only minor injuries were sustained. This is a lucky result as drunk driving is extremely dangerous. Far too many people in Charleston and across the state of South Carolina are killed or maimed every year in DUI accidents. If you or a family member has been seriously injured by a drunk driver, please contact an experienced Charleston DUI accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Drunk Driving Is a Serious Problem in South Carolina
While drunk driving has been decreasing over the last few decades, it is still a major cause for concern in South Carolina. In fact, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), South Carolina may be the very worst state for drunk driving. South Carolina consistently ranks near the bottom in alcohol-related vehicle safety ratings. In a few categories the state actually ranks in last place. Consider the following statistics for South Carolina:
- Drunk driving fatalities per capita: Ranking 47th
- Drunk Driving fatalities per vehicle mile travelled: Ranking 50th
- Percentage of car accident fatalities involving a drunk driver: Ranking 50th
- Percentage of drivers who report having driven while intoxicated: Ranking 41st
- Percentage of the population who have been arrested for a DUI: Ranking 37th
By any metric, the data tells a clear story; drunk driving remains a serious safety threat in South Carolina. This is very troubling since the consequences for innocent victims of DUI accidents can be so severe. It is clear that the state needs to do more to address this problem.
Drunk Driving Accident Injury Claims: Four Things You Need to Know
- Seek medical treatment after an accident: You should always seek professional medical help after being involved in a South Carolina car accident. Even if you do not believe that medical assistance is necessary, it is still imperative that you get yourself checked out. Many car accident injuries present themselves with delayed symptoms. One reason for this is because being in an accident causes a spike in the production of adrenaline. This can obscure pain for quite some time. Another reason why you must see a doctor is that many common car accident injuries, such as: concussions, back damage and whiplash, are difficult to diagnose. You may not realize just how injured your really are until you see a doctor. Beyond protecting your own health, you also need to get yourself a medical exam in order to protect your legal claim. You deserve to be fairly compensated for the full extent of your DUI accident injuries. However, pursuing a fair settlement offer can quickly become challenging. You can only recover fair compensation with evidence that supports your claim. You will need official medical documentation. Without getting yourself professional treatment, you may have a hard time establishing your damages.
- Understand the difference between a criminal case and a civil case: The driver who was responsible for your DUI accident injuries will likely face serious criminal charges. While this is certainly an important part of the legal process, you will need to hire a car accident attorney who can help you take civil action against the responsible party. Ultimately, a civil case and a criminal case are two entirely separate actions. The standard of evidence in these cases is also different. In a criminal case, the state of South Carolina must prove guilt case beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, in a civil accident claim, plaintiffs must only meet the preponderance of evidence standard. While your civil car accident claim is a separate action, the results of any corresponding criminal case will still matter. Your attorney may be able to use the evidence from that case to help you prevail in civil court.
- Insurance companies are not on your side: If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you should always proceed with caution when dealing with an insurance company. It is important to remember that the company will not be looking out for your best interests. If they have an opportunity to settle your case for less than what it is worth, they will try do so. It is a best practice to let your attorney deal with the insurance company. Your attorney will ensure that there is a level playing field. This is especially important in South Carolina DUI accident injury cases because victims may be entitled to significant additional compensation.
- You may be entitled to punitive damages: Punitive damages are an additional form of compensation that is sometimes available to accident victims. You may only recover punitive damages in a very limited number of South Carolina personal injury cases. This is because punitive damages are only awarded when injuries are caused by the intentional or extremely reckless actions of another party. This is known as ‘gross negligence’. In South Carolina, drunk driving that causes serious injuries is often deemed to be gross negligence. The purpose of punitive damages is ultimately to punish the bad actions of the negligent party. As this will help further disincentive anyone else from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Still, punitive damages are still awarded to the victim in addition to all other available damages.
Contact an Aggressive Charleston DUI Accident Lawyer
At David Aylor Law Offices, our South Carolina car accident lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of drunk driving accident victims. If you have been injured in a DUI accident, our team is ready to help. We will help you recover the full and fair compensation that you deserve, including any available punitive damages. Please do not hesitate to contact us today to set up a free review of your case. Our firm represents victims in Charleston and throughout the surrounding region.