If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver in South Carolina, you need to take the necessary steps to protect your legal rights and see that justice is served. Following an accident, the first thing you should do is call 911 to request assistance from law enforcement and other first responders. Law enforcement will investigate the accident and prepare an incident report that will assist you with pursuing any related claims. It is also important to seek medical attention immediately after the accident, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, but delaying medical evaluation and treatment could adversely affect your health and your legal claim.
While waiting for the authorities to arrive, keep a sharp eye out for signs of impairment on the part of the other driver. Intoxication manifests itself through a number of physical and behavioral changes, including slurred speech, watery eyes, unsteadiness, and the smell of alcohol on the breath. If the other driver appears impaired, it is best to stay away from them. If it is safe to do so, use your smartphone to record video or take photos.
Many impaired drivers will try to dispose of evidence such as drug paraphernalia or open containers of alcohol before law enforcement arrives. If you are observant, you might be able to point out to law enforcement where the other driver attempted to dispose of evidence.
If a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, roadside sobriety tests will be administered by law enforcement. If the results of those tests give the officer probable cause, the driver will likely be arrested and charged criminally. After arrest, law enforcement may administer a breathalyzer test or other testing for evidence of impairment. You will likely be contacted by a victim’s advocate who will make you aware of court proceedings related to the criminal charges and your right to participate in the criminal proceedings.
In addition to the state filing criminal charges, you have the option of filing a civil claim against the drunk driver to seek compensation for your damages. By filing a claim, victims can seek monetary damages for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Because the burden of proof is higher in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt) than in a civil case (by a preponderance of the evidence, or clear and convincing evidence if punitive damages are sought), the result in the criminal case may impact the resolution of your civil case. Evidence of driving under the influence can support an award of punitive damages in your civil case which increases the value of your claim and may make the insurance company more motivated to settle the claim.
When it comes to protecting yourself, one of the most important things you can do is discuss your case with an attorney. This will ensure that you take all the necessary steps to assert your rights and interests. An experienced attorney can also help you understand the laws that apply to your situation, help gather and preserve evidence, and advise you during each step in the claims or litigation process.
David Proffitt and Ron Cox have served the Columbia, South Carolina community for decades, helping countless drivers get back on the road after devastating accidents interrupted their lives. They’ve fought drunk drivers and aggressive insurance companies to obtain fair compensation for their clients’ injuries or lost loved ones. To set up a free consultation in cases involving an injury, reach out to our office today.
If you suffered an injury from a serious auto accident, you may be facing significant medical bills. You may also be struggling to pay for your expenses because of an inability to work while you recover from your injuries. However, help is available to those who suffered injuries due to the negligence of others as well as for the families of fatal accident victims.
For years, our Columbia injury lawyers have worked on behalf of the people of South Carolina to gain them compensation for their motor vehicle accident injuries. We may be able to provide personal and effective legal support for you as well. Call the attorneys at Proffitt & Cox, LLP today at 803-834-7097 for a free consultation. You can also call the firm toll free at (877) 276-0533 or by filling out the contact form on our site.
We offer free initial consultations for all injury cases. We handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis which means that our fees are a percentage of what we recover for you. You will not owe us any attorney’s fees in such cases unless we are successful in obtaining compensation on your behalf.
Our South Carolina accident attorneys have recovered over $30 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. These claims involved automobile accidents, trucking accidents, harmful prescription drugs, medical malpractice, product liability, slip and fall accidents and class action cases. Review our representative cases to see some of our past successes and review our client testimonials to see what some of our clients have to say about us.