Can You Sue After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver?

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If you or a loved one has suffered injury or damages after being hit by a drunk driver, you can file a civil lawsuit to get compensated for your damages.

As with any personal injury claim, it is in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney in Greenville who can assist you and guide you through the civil claims process.

If you or your loved one suffered injuries or your loved one died due to being hit by a drunk driver in the Greenville, SC area, Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC offers free consultations.

Suing a Drunk Driver For an Accident

After being hit by a drunk driver in South Carolina, you will need to negotiate compensation through the insurance company of the drunk driver. Insurance companies work on behalf of their client and they work to reduce the amount of compensation the insurance company will have to pay.

Insurance adjusters are shrewd negotiators and they often attempt low-ball settlement offers. If no settlement can be reached, you will need to pursue your claim in civil court.

The burden of proof

To be convicted of criminal charges the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil court, the defendant must be proven guilty by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it must be more likely than not that the driver was drunk and negligently caused injuries.

The standard of proof is much lower in a civil claim than in a criminal proceeding, however, a criminal conviction can be used as evidence in a civil claim.

Types of Compensation for Being Hit by a Drunk Driver

A South Carolina personal injury lawyer can offer assistance with valuing your civil claim for compensation for being hit by a drunk driver. South Carolina’s laws allow for economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages also if the facts of the accident meet the requirements.

Economic damages

The actual financial cost of the accident is considered economic damages. The total of economic damages can be easily calculated and it includes past and future medical costs, lost wages from missed work, vehicle repair, and the loss of future wages due to your inability to work.

Noneconomic damages

The hard-to-quantify costs of the accident are called noneconomic damages. The total noneconomic damages may include physical pain and suffering experienced, mental anguish, damaged reputation, and the loss of life enjoyment you may be experiencing due to being hit by a drunk driver

Punitive damages

Less commonly awarded, punitive damages are imposed in cases where the drunk driver was extremely drunk, grossly negligent, and in cases where the injuries or losses were especially devastating. Punitive damages are not requested in the claim but are added after the claim amount has been awarded by the court.

The additional sum of punitive damages is added to the judgment by the court as a punishment to the drunk driver and as a warning to future potential offenders. In South Carolina, there is no legal limit for the punitive damages the court can impose if the claim is against a drunk driver.

Dram Shop Laws

A dram shop is an establishment that serves alcohol by the dram, or small measure such as a shot. Some states impose dram shop laws that allow victims hit by a drunk driver to file a claim against the establishment that knowingly provided excessive amounts of alcohol and enabled the accident that resulted in injuries or death.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has authorized dram shop laws if:

  • The drunk driver was under 21
  • If the establishment continued to serve alcohol to someone who was over 21 but visibly very intoxicated

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver

If you or your loved one was injured or died as a result of being hit by a drunk driver, a personal injury lawyer can assist you with filing a civil claim for compensation in a number of ways.

Some of the things a personal injury lawyer can do to assist you include:

  • Guide you through the claims filing process
  • Help you place a value on your damages
  • Conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf
  • Locate and interview witnesses
  • Advocate on your behalf
  • Negotiate with insurance adjusters

The list of things that a personal injury lawyer can assist you with after being hit by a drunk driver go on and on.

Hit By a Drunk Driver? Contact Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC

Located in Greenville, South Carolina, Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC will consult with you about your claim after being hit by a drunk driver free of charge. We also represent clients on a contingency basis so we do not get paid unless you receive the compensation you are seeking.

Contact us today to begin your case.

DUI Accident FAQs

How long do I have to file a civil claim after being injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina?

The statute of limitations for your civil claim in South Carolina is three years. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim.

Can you sue a social host who served alcohol under dram shop laws?

A social host is only held liable in South Carolina under dram shop laws if they served guests alcohol who were underage and who then drove drunk, leading to the accident and injuries.

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