Drunk Driving Injuries

North Charleston Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer

Like all major cities, North Charleston struggles with the high rate of drunk driving. In North Charleston, drunk driving accidents make up over 30 percent of the city’s total number of traffic-related deaths.

Recovering compensation after any South Carolina car accident is challenging. However, being involved in a drunk driving accident adds a certain element of frustration. Every drunk driving accident entirely preventable. 

At the Steinberg Law Firm, we assembled a dedicated team of North Charleston car accident lawyers who focus on helping drunk driving victims. After an accident, you will likely have questions. What can I do to hold the drunk driver responsible? How am I going to pay my medical bills? When can I get back to work to support my family? We can help put your mind at ease by explaining the recovery process in understandable terms. If you choose to allow us to work on your case, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

North Charleston Drunk Driving Accident Statistics:

Each day in the United States, more than 30 people die from drunk driving accidents. This amounts to one fatality every 30 minutes. Over the past ten years, there have been more than 10,000 lives lost due to drunk driving. According to experts, fatalities from drunk driving cost more than $44 billion per year.

North Charleston is a large city, extending into Charleston County, Dorchester County and Berkeley County. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety keeps track of all drunk driving accidents across the state. Below is the data for drunk driving fatalities in which the at-fault driver’s blood-alcohol content was .08 or more:

• Charleston County
◦ 2014: 24 fatalities
◦ 2015: 15 fatalities
◦ 2016: 19 fatalities
◦ 2017: 18 fatalities
◦ 2018: 28 fatalities
• Dorchester County
◦ 2014: 5 fatalities
◦ 2015: 11 fatalities
◦ 2016: 7 fatalities
◦ 2017: 7 fatalities
◦ 2018: 2 fatalities
• Berkeley County
◦ 2014: 14 fatalities
◦ 2015: 10 fatalities
◦ 2016: 13 fatalities
◦ 2017: 12 fatalities
◦ 2018: 13 fatalities

Nationwide, there were 10,511 DUI fatalities in 2018. That year, 29 percent of all fatal traffic accidents were due to drunk driving. That same year, there were 291 South Carolina DUI fatalities, representing 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in South Carolina. That means South Carolina is on par with the national average regarding the rate of drunk driving deaths.  

The majority of North Charleston drunk driving accidents do not result in a fatality. Below is the annual data for non-fatal DUI accident cases in the North Charleston area:

• Charleston County
◦ 2014: 303 DUI accidents
◦ 2015: 303 DUI accidents
◦ 2016: 342 DUI accidents
◦ 2017: 347 DUI accidents
◦ 2018: 374 DUI accidents
• Dorchester County
◦ 2014: 115 DUI accidents
◦ 2015: 109 DUI accidents
◦ 2016: 114 DUI accidents
◦ 2017: 115 DUI accidents
◦ 2018: 111 DUI accidents
• Berkeley County
◦ 2014: 175 DUI accidents
◦ 2015: 157 DUI accidents
◦ 2016: 150 DUI accidents
◦ 2017: 191 DUI accidents
◦ 2018: 177 DUI accidents

Most South Carolina drunk driving accidents occur over the weekend:

• 15.41 percent of all non-fatal accidents
• 14.94 percent of all fatal accidents
• 23 percent of all non-fatal accidents
• 29.07 percent of all fatal accidents
• 18.76 percent of all non-fatal accidents
• 16.7 percent of all fatal accidents

Weekend drunk driving accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, make up about 57 percent of all non-fatal accidents and 60 percent of all fatal accidents.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving:

• On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives.
• Drugs other than alcohol are involved in about 18 percent of all fatal traffic accidents.
• Almost seven percent of those killed in traffic accidents had marijuana in their system.
• Each day, nearly 800 people are injured in drunk driving accidents.

The Effects of Alcohol on a Driver

Alcohol affects a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. The more alcohol a driver consumes, the more significant these impairments become. The amount of alcohol in a driver’s system is measured in terms of blood-alcohol content (BAC). According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drivers experience the following symptoms at different BAC limits:

BAC Expected Effects on a Driver
.02 Some loss of judgment likely resulting in reduced attention and compromised ability to multitask.
.05 Exaggerated behavior, loss of focus and impaired judgment likely resulting in reduced coordination and difficulty reacting to road hazards.
.08 Reduced coordination, memory, judgment and reasoning, likely in poor concentration, short-term memory loss and impaired perception.
.10 Slower thinking and a marked reduction in reaction time typically result in a driver being unable to stay in their lane and apply the brakes.
.15 Loss of balance and muscle control potentially causing a driver to vomit or blackout and significantly impair control of the vehicle.

In South Carolina, it is against the law to drive with a BAC of .08 or more. However, even a motorist with a BAC of less than .08 can presents a major hazard to others on the road. Regardless of a driver’s BAC, if their ability to drive is affected by alcohol, they are driving drunk.

In many North Charleston drunk driving accidents, the drunk driver is arrested and charged with the crime of driving under the influence. These criminal charges are filed against the driver based on the violation of South Carolina’s drunk driving laws. If convicted, the driver may face probation or incarceration and be ordered to pay court costs and fines. A DUI conviction does little to help an accident victim because these cases are focused on punishing the drunk driver for their actions rather than providing compensation to the victim of the drunk driver’s conduct.

However, North Charleston drunk driving accident victims can pursue a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit that, unlike criminal cases, is focused on making an accident victim “whole” again. Civil suits must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if a drunk driver is not convicted or enters a diversionary program, an accident victim can still pursue a personal injury claim against them. An accident victim can even pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver when the drunk driver was never arrested or charged with a DUI.

Bringing a North Charleston Drunk Driving Lawsuit 

Every DUI accident is preventable, and those who choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink can be held legally and financially responsible for their actions. To succeed in a North Charleston drunk driving lawsuit, an accident victim must prove that the other driver was negligent. In South Carolina, a negligence claim has four elements:

1. Duty of care: Accident victims must prove that the defendant named in the lawsuit owed them a duty of care. In North Charleston DUI accident cases, this is typically not an issue because all motorists owe others on the road a duty to drive safely and responsibly.
2. Breach of the duty: The next step is to prove that the defendant breached the duty owed to the accident victim. In the case of a drunk driving accident, this is not often contested because drunk driving is against the law.
3. Causation: To succeed in a North Charleston drunk driving lawsuit, the accident victim must prove that the defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries. Drunk drivers may claim that the accident victim, or another motorist, was partially responsible for the accident.
4. Damages: The final element of a drunk driving claim requires accident victims to prove their injuries and damages. 

While it may seem as though liability would be straightforward in a North Charleston DUI accident claim, that is not always the case. For example, an experienced North Charleston personal injury lawyer can help accident victims prepare their case by refuting the defendant’s claims that the accident victim shares blame for causing the accident. An attorney can identify how the accident impacted the victim’s life, increasing their potential damages award.

Third-Party Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident

One of the most important aspects of a North Charleston drunk driving case is identifying all potentially liable parties. In some cases, accident victims can pursue a claim against the drunk driver and other parties. The two most common examples of third-party liability include the party who served the drunk driver alcohol and the drunk driver’s employer.

Under the South Carolina dram shop law, an accident victim can pursue a claim against the bar or restaurant that overserved the drunk driver to the point of intoxication. While South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop statute, courts have allowed these claims where the accident victim can show that a bar or restaurant served a minor or a visibly intoxicated adult.

Accident victims can also file a claim against a “social host” who serves a guest to the point where they are intoxicated. A social host is not running a business selling alcohol but serves someone alcohol in a social setting like a party. 

However, under South Carolina law, these social host claims only exist if the person whom the social host served was a minor. Thus, if someone serves alcohol to an adult, who then leaves and causes a drunk driving accident, the accident victim will only be able to pursue a claim against the drunk driver. However, if the guest was a minor, the accident victim could name both the driver and the social host as defendants.

Accident victims can also hold employers responsible for an employee who causes a drunk driving accident. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers are liable for employees’ negligent acts, provided the acts occurred during the course and scope of their employment. For example, if a delivery driver for a furniture store drinks at lunch and then causes a drunk driving accident, anyone injured in that accident may be able to pursue a claim against the drunk driver as well as the furniture company.

While third parties can be liable for a drunk driver’s actions, these claims are much more complex and require an experienced North Charleston personal injury attorney’s assistance.

Contact the North Charleston Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm Today

If you were recently injured in a drunk driving accident, contact the North Charleston car accident attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm. Our aggressive team of personal injury attorneys has been helping accident victims and their families hold drunk drivers accountable for more than 95 years. We understand that recovering from a serious accident presents many challenges, and we are here for you. When you give us a call to discuss your case, we will begin by getting to know you, taking special care to understand how the accident impacted your life fully. We will then describe the personal injury process, answering any questions you have but never pressuring you to make any decision. If you choose to allow us to file a claim on your behalf, we will strategically pursue the maximum possible compensation for your losses.

At the Steinberg Law Firm, we have recovered more than $500 million on behalf of our clients over the past ten years, and we look forward to seeing how we can help you with your case. To learn more and schedule a free consultation today, call us at 843-720-2800 to speak with one of our experienced team members. You can also reach us through our online form.

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