Charleston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Every time you drive on the roads and highways of South Carolina, there is a chance that you might get into an automobile accident. If and when you do, hopefully it is just a small fender bender and no one was injured. However, sometimes, people are seriously injured in car crashes by the negligence of other drivers. The worst kind of negligent drivers who cause accidents are those that are driving drunk or are impaired on other drug or substance. These drivers get drunk and purposely risk taking their lives and the lives of South Carolinians every time they get into a car.
Even though most people in South Carolina think that there is a small risk of getting hit by a drunk driver, this belief would be incorrect. Drunk or impaired driving is a much bigger problem in the state than most people realize. South Carolina consistently ranks as one of the worst states in DUI arrests, accidents and DUI related deaths. In 2017, South Carolina was the 5th worst state in DUI related auto accidents, injuries and deaths. Moreover, there were 16,272 DUI related arrests in South Carolina in 2016. The DUI related deaths have reached over 10,000 people in the past several years.
A good chance exists that you will be hit by a drunk driver in your lifetime. And it does not matter how well, safely or defensively you drive, sometimes there is no avoiding a drunk driver that is driving way too fast and swerving all over the road. Something you do not even see them coming and you have no time to avoid the crash. So, if and when this happens, you need to know what to do in order to protect your rights and to get the compensation for your injuries that you deserve.
Four Things to Do When You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver
When you are involved in any type of car crash it can be a surprising, scary and painful thing. But being in a car crash that was caused by a drunk driver is usually much worse. Often the drunk driver is speeding and driving erratically and can cause more serious crashes; thus causing more damage and harm than a regular car crash. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself and protect your rights if and when you were hit by a drunk driver. These things will ensure that you get the benefits and compensation that you deserve.
1. Assess the situation and try to get out of harm’s way, if necessary.
If you are injured try to assess the injuries as quickly as possible to see if you can move or if there is bleeding or some other condition that needs immediate care. If you are able to move and get out of your vehicle, then try to help other injured people get out of their vehicles. You do not want to be in your vehicle if you can help it due to the risk of a secondary crash caused by passerby vehicles.
3. Try to notice things about the at-fault drier to spot any signs of intoxication.
Is the other driver stumbling or falling over? Do you smell alcohol on the other driver? Is the other driver slurring their words or talking incoherently? Is the other driver attempting to hide evidence of drinking such as throwing away beer cans? Did you witness the other driver switch seats with a passenger in order to claim that they were not driving at the time of the crash. If you have a smart phone on you, remember that you can also take pictures or videos of the driver demonstrating any intoxication or any evidence of intoxication.
2. Call 911 and report the crash.
Do this as fast as possible once everyone is safe from extra harm so that First Responders can arrive at the accident scene as quickly as possible. The sooner EMTs and ambulances get the scene the sooner seriously injured can receive the treatment. Saving someone’s life can mean calling for an ambulance just a few minutes sooner. Also, you want the police to get there to investigate the collision, interview witnesses and direct traffic to prevent any subsequent collisions. The police can also determine if the at-fault driver was intoxicated when the crash occurred. Police are trained experts at determining sobriety and administering field sobriety tests. The police can also secure any physical evidence of intoxication such as open or empty alcohol containers in the vehicle, breathalyzer results or urine/blood samples. Further, the sooner the police arrive the sooner they can make sure the drunk driver does not leave the scene of the accident. Many drunk drivers flee the scenes of crashes that they caused because they believe that they can sober up before the police catch them.
4. Contact a lawyer who is experienced in South Carolina DUI crashes.
An attorney who has handled hundreds of these types of personal injury claims will be able to protect your rights and win compensation for your injuries and losses.
What Can a Charleston DUI Accident Lawyer Do For You?
Most DUI accidents are complicated because the crashes can be violent and cause serious injuries. An experienced DUI accident lawyer is responsible for doing everything possible to be able to recreate the collision in order to prove that the inebriated driver was negligent and caused the crash and the injuries. That is why it is important to get us involved as soon as possible. The sooner we are able to collect evidence the better we can represent your interests and get the fair compensation for your injuries. Trust us, the drunk driver’s insurance company will have a team of adjusters, lawyers and investigators on their side. You should have a dedicated, experienced team on your side protecting your rights. These are some of the things lawyers and staff will accomplish when you hire the Steinberg Law Firm to handle your DUI accident claim:
Take the following steps
- Take detailed photographs and measurements at the scene of the crash, noting the lengths of any skid marks and locations of the vehicles.
Track down all witnesses and get their recorded statements as soon as possible so that the information provided is the most accurate and no one forgets important facts and impressions of the truck crash.
Acquire the police accident investigation reports and any documentation, photos or measurements taken by the police while investigating the crash.
Obtain any criminal records related to the defendant’s drunk or impaired driving charges and convictions including the amount of their BAC (blood alcohol content) levels.
Collect and maintain any evidence at the scene of the accident that might be relevant and make sure the “chain of custody” of the evidence so that it can be used in court without claims of evidence tampering. Some types of physical evidence could be pieces of the various vehicles involved as well as dash camera footage.
Obtain the vehicle’s “black box” and pull the data off it to preserve it. Just like with airplanes, many modern vehicles have a black box that records various data about the vehicle in real time, including speed, direction and breaking action just before the accident. This is a wealth of information that an accident reconstruction expert can use to determine what occurred minutes or even hours before the crash.
If necessary, hire our own accident reconstruction expert to look at all the evidence and the data from the black box and give an expert opinion on what caused the collision, what factors were involved and how the injuries were sustained.
WE HAVE RECOVERED OVER $500 MILLION FOR CLIENTS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS, INCLUDING:
$1,450,000 in a fatal automobile collision.
Types of Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers
Drunk drivers or drivers that are impaired due to taking drugs can cause many types of accidents. It does not take much alcohol, for most people, to make them legally impaired and unable to driver a vehicle. Most people are arrested at much higher amounts than the legal limit in South Carolina. Given this, drunk drivers or impaired drivers can cause many types of crashes. Here are a few of the most common:
Often intoxicated or impaired drivers can become drowsy while driving. When a driver in this condition dozes off, they can suddenly veer into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision. These types of accidents are so sudden and violent that the innocent drivers and passengers in the other vehicle have no time to respond or take evasive action.
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to drunk drivers. Given the erratic driving of most drunk drivers, even people walking on sidewalks are unsafe. However, people walking along the side of a road or attempting to cross an intersection are in particular in harm’s way, especially at night, given the drunk driver’s impaired senses of vision and reaction time. Further, the injuries suffered by pedestrians that are struck by drunk drivers are usually much more severe than regular crashes. The person walking along the side of the road has absolutely no protection from the several ton vehicle that just struck them.
Being intoxicated impairs a person’s abilities and senses. They cannot properly judge speed, distance and their reaction time is significantly reduced. Also, their vision is impaired causing them to unable to see traffic control devices, stop lights or other conditions of the roadway. Because of this, there is a greater likelihood of rear-end crashes. Because a drunk driver’s reaction time is slower due to the alcohol or drugs, if a driver in front of them stops quickly, the drunk driver cannot stop in time.
Due to their impaired state, many drunk drivers are so intoxicated that they do not know where they are going and can driver the wrong way, thus causing serious risk to other vehicles and drivers on the road.
Common DUI Accident Injuries
Like most car crashes, the injuries that are caused by a DUI accident can be, on average, much more severe than in regular car accidents. Due to the erratic driving of the DUI vehicle and the greater speed, these types of crashes can cause severe and even deadly types of injuries. Here are some of the common injuries that can be expected in DUI related crashes:
Brain injuries: A brain injury resulting from a car crash at great speed is very common. And although newer vehicles are equipped with more and better airbags (for example side airbags), there is still a high chance of brain injury caused by a driver who is under the influence.
Spinal cord injuries: Injuries to the spine are common in many types of accidents with all types of vehicles. However, due to the speed that many drunk drivers travel, these accidents are just more violent, causing more spinal cord injuries.
Fatal DUI crashes: As stated above, the death rate caused by DUI accidents in South Carolina is staggering. And it does not seem that this death rate is going to decrease, despite the attempts of law enforcement and the legislature to enact new laws.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover If I Was Injured by a Drunk Driver?
If you were injured in an automobile crash in South Carolina that was caused by the negligence of a drunk driver, then you can recover damages for you injuries. Even though the drunk driver was taken away from the scene of the accident in handcuffs, you can still file a lawsuit against them and the insurance company, despite the fact that the drunk driver was arrested. It does not matter that there may also be a criminal case.
You should not rely upon the criminal justice system to be compensated for the economic losses and the non-economic damages that you face. You should contact an attorney that has a lot of experience handling DUI accident cases so that, if necessary, a civil lawsuit can be filed against the driver and their insurance company.
The economic damages that can be recovered are fairly easy to calculate. These types of damages are the following:
- Property damage to your car and any items you may have had in the vehicle
- Unpaid medical bills and expenses related to your treatment and recovery
- Future lost wages due to a long term disability affecting your future earning capacity.
- Lost wages due to an inability to work while healing from your injuries
The non-economic damages that you would be able to recover are a more difficult to discern because your lawyer is not just adding up numbers. Non-economic damages are for what the injuries did to your life, including:
- Humiliation and damage to your reputation
- Pain and suffering from your injuries
- Emotional distress, post traumatic stress disorder and mental suffering
GETTING RESULTS FOR CLIENTS
The staff at Steinberg Lawfirm was amazing. This was my first experience needing legal assistance; my anxiety levels were high. They were patient and informative as they walked me through my process. Thank you for making one of the most scariest and stressful situations of my life a little easier and less intimidating.
Unlike a regular car or truck crash, DUI crashes offer an ability to seek money from the drunk driver that are called punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded to the injured plaintiff not to compensate the plaintiff for any injuries, but to punish the drunk driver. Punitive damages are not allowed in every case.
How Much Are My Injuries Worth?
This a complicated questions and the answer is affected by many variables. But only one thing is true: You will not be able to the full amount of damages that you deserve without first contacting an experienced South Carolina DUI car crash attorney. Only with a lawyer fighting for your rights will you be as successful as possible.
Do not believe if you contact the defendant’s insurance company yourself you will get a fair deal. The defendant’s insurance company has an army of adjusters, lawyers and investigators working day and night to make sure you do not get fairly compensated for your injuries. They will not treat you fairly. You need legal experts on your side, fighting for your rights. Let our team of DUI accident lawyers fight for you. The variables that will affect how much money you can expect to recover are the following:
- The amount of medical bills — this includes past medical bills as well as medical bills that you might incur in the future that are related to your car crash injuries
- The amount of lost wages — just like with medical bills, this number counts both past lost wages as well as future loss wages due a lower earning power caused by an ongoing disability
- The amount of pain and suffering that you have endured — this category of damages is called non-economic damages and can be difficult to put a number on it because there is no formula that can be used. The only way to determine this number is to hire an experienced lawyer who has handled hundreds of South Caroline car accident cases
- How much insurance coverage are you able to get access to — this issue involves the insurance policy limits on the at-fault driver's insurance. The at-fault driver has to cover your injuries. Also, do you have underinsurance or uninsurance if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance. You may have suffered injuries that an average person would agree should be worth millions of dollars. However, you will only receive the policy limits of the various insurance policies that are in play
- There seriousness of your injuries and length of your treatment — will there be any aspect of your injury that is permanent such as scarring or will there be a full and complete recovery.
WE HAVE RECOVERED OVER $500 MILLION FOR CLIENTS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS, INCLUDING:
$2,750,000 in a product defect case, scissor lift malfunction.
What Is the Time Limit to File a DUI Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Every state in America has rules on how long a plaintiff has to file a civil lawsuit for personal injuries. These time limits are called “statute of limitations” and are set by each states’ legislature. The time limit in each state can vary with different types of lawsuits having different time limits. In South Carolina, a lawsuit seeking compensation for personal injuries caused by a drunk driver is three (3) years from the date of the crash. Also, if the plaintiff was killed by the negligence of the drunk driver, then the deceased family would also have three (3) years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver and their insurance company.
The purpose of statute of limitations is two-fold. First, it protects the rights of the accused to be able to face evidence against them that is not stale. One can imagine that as time passes from the date of a car crash, certain types of evidence made disappear, witnesses may die or their memories may fade. Second, a time limit on filing a lawsuit will also allow a potential defendant to not be subject to possible litigation for the rest of their life.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Steinberg Law Firm at (843) 780-2800. Let us help you through these trying times. Being injured by a drunk driver can be a horrible experience. We can answer your questions and help you recover the damages to compensate you for your injuries. The initial consultation is free.