Being involved in a collision can be problematic enough, but being hit by someone who decided to drink and drive can be downright annoying. If you were hit by a drunk driver, by acting appropriately following the collision you can properly protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Below is some important basic information to be aware of if you are hit by an individual who decided to drive drunk or intoxicated. However, if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver in the State of South Carolina, please do not hesitate to contact a car accident attorney for advice before you make any legal decisions.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
If the intoxicated driver who hit you has insurance, keep in mind that their insurance company is not working in your favor. More likely than not they will attempt to settle the case as quickly as possible by offering you a quick settlement so you can “put this behind you” or “move on.” While you may just want the whole ordeal to be over, it is typically in your best interest to avoid settling your case way to early or signing anything without having it reviewed by an attorney. Remember that you have multiple options, and a Charleston car accident attorney working for your interests can typically guide you to choose the best option for you and your family.
Additionally, just because the drunk driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t carry adequate insurance to compensate you for your losses, there are other routes to make sure that you are made whole. Most importantly, check with your own insurance policy to see if yours includes uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If you carry this type of coverage (which should be in most policies), you can try filing a claim with your own insurance for compensation.
Familiarize Yourself with Your State Laws
In addition to filing a claim against the driver’s insurance or your own policy, you may have a route to recovery by pursing another associated party under certain statutes. While this type of recovery is very situation specific, if another party (person or business) significantly contributed to the factors that lead to the driver being intoxicated there is another avenue to allow for the appropriate compensation you deserve.
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 individual. Certain states have these laws in order to discourage serving alcohol to already drunk guests and to hold them accountable if their intoxicated guests leave and cause an accident.
If the intoxicated driver hit you while driving a vehicle they did not own, you might be able to file a negligent entrustment claim against the owner of the vehicle. Specifically, if the owner of the vehicle knowingly gave a drunk person the keys to their vehicle and allowed them to drive, they knew or should have known that the intoxicated individual had a substantial likelihood of causing an accident. This makes them a liable party for the accident and your damages.
Filing a Civil Case Against the Drunk Driver
Because drunk driving is illegal, your local prosecutor or solicitor will likely file criminal charges. However, in order to receive compensation for your own personal loss (if the insurance company does not pay the claim), you will need to file civil charges against the driver.
You will likely be entitled to compensation for compensatory damages, which include special and general damages. Special damages are your specific, monetary expenses resulting from the accident like medical expenses and lost wages. Meanwhile, general damages cover your intangible loss resulting from the accident; commonly thought of or referred to as “pain and suffering.”
You may also be entitled to compensation for punitive damages. Punitive damages are placed on the drunk driver solely to punish them for their actions and to make an example of them to discourage such reckless behavior.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver, do not hesitate to reach out to Attorney Trey Harrell because he and his team will do everything in their power to hold the drunk driver accountable for their extremely reckless conduct on your behalf. Simply call our office at 843.636.TREY or fill out this simple form to schedule a FREE consultation to have your rights thoroughly explained to better allow you to figure out the next steps.
Disclaimer: Information in this blog is intended for informative purposes only and not legal advice. Please consult with a licensed attorney before you make any decisions on legal matters. Further, viewing of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney. Matters will be handled by an attorney who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 2000 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. Charleston, SC 29407. Robert W. “Trey” Harrell, III is the attorney responsible for this posting.