Injured by a drunk driver?
Drunk driving deaths per year
About one-third of all traffic fatalities in South Carolina involve a drunk driver. This is one of the highest rates in the nation. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a drunk driver’s negligence, you might be eligible for compensation for your medical bills and other costs. Learn more about the problem of drunk driving and how to proceed with a drunk-driving related auto accident claim below.
Why is drunk driving dangerous?
Alcohol impairs both your decision-making skills and your physical coordination and reflexes. This is the case even if you’re below the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two alcoholic drinks can cause decreased visual function, problems multi-tasking, and poor judgment.
Blood Alcohol Concentration
If you’re a male of average height and weight, drinking about three alcoholic drinks in an hour will give you a BAC of 0.05. 0.05 is below the legal BAC limit. However, a 0.05 BAC is still enough to impair coordination, decrease your visual tracking abilities, and slow your reaction time by about a tenth of a second.
This might sound minor. But if you’re driving at 70 mph with a 0.05 BAC, it means you’ll travel about one extra car length before responding to a hazard. Based on this information, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested in 2013 that the U.S. impose a 0.05 BAC limit instead of the current 0.08.
Studies have also shown that drivers who have a 0.08 BAC have relatively poor concentration, difficulties with perception and self-control, decreased motor skills, and blurred vision. They also typically struggle to control the speed of their car and to make good driving decisions.
Now, imagine a drunk driver on vacation. They’re trying to follow directions in an unfamiliar location, perhaps fiddling with the maps app on their phone, and they also can’t properly steer, see, or make decisions. Under these circumstances, one error can easily lead to catastrophic results for a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.
Types of Lawsuits
If you’ve been hit and injured by a drunk driver, you might have multiple lawsuits and claims depending on the circumstances surrounding your crash. These claims could include:
Liability claims against the driver: There’s a good chance you have a claim against the at-fault driver (or drivers) who caused the crash and their insurance companies.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist claims: Your personal uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage might cover some of your losses if the drunk driver doesn’t have insurance or if they have minimal insurance coverage.
Personal injury protection (PIP) claims: If you have a PIP policy, it might help cover some of your lost wages and medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
Dram shop claims against a bar, restaurant, or liquor store: If a bar or restaurant overserved the drunk driver or sold alcohol to a minor driver, you might have a negligence claim against the business.
“The term dram shop is used to describe a tavern, bar, restaurant, or other commercial establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. It was used to refer to establishments where spirits were sold by the spoonful or a dram, a unit of liquid measurement.” (alcohol.org)
What is a dram shop case?
Dram shop laws originated in the United States during the 19th century.
A “dram shop case occurs when the intoxicated person causes injury or” death to a third party after the dram shop has sold beer or wine to them under one of the following conditions: the person was under the age of twenty-one, or was already intoxicated. That third party may then bring a lawsuit against not only the intoxicated person, but also against the commercial establishment that sold the alcohol to the intoxicated person or minor.
Although there is no specific dram shop statute in the Palmetto State, the state does recognize dram shop claims. SC law Section 61-4-580 states: “No holder of a permit authorizing the sale of beer or wine or a servant, agent, or employee of the permittee may knowingly commit any of the following acts upon the licensed premises covered by the holder’s permit: sell beer or wine to a person under twenty-one years of age; sell beer or wine to an intoxicated person.” (scstatehouse.gov)
Proving a dram shop claim can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to contact a lawyer who can help. You must prove that the restaurant or bar KNOWINGLY served alcohol to a minor or someone who was already visibly intoxicated, AND that your injuries were a direct cause of that patron’s intoxication.
What is the statute of limitations for a dram shop case?
Like other personal injury cases in SC, the statute of limitations on a dram shop case is usually three years. This means you have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a case.
In SC, businesses who sell on premises drinking alcohol are required by law to have a $1,000,000 liability policy.
Every drunk driving claim is unique. So it’s impossible to generalize about your case without knowing all of the facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your potential claims, call us at (843) 491-6025.
Injured by a drunk driver? Steps to take:
In the aftermath of a drunk driving wreck, it’s understandably hard to think clearly. Your focus is on your safety, getting medical attention, and calling law enforcement. If you didn’t think to take pictures or identify witnesses, don’t panic. An experienced SC car accident and personal injury lawyer can investigate the crash that injured you and help collect evidence for your claim.
After the accident, you’ll typically have to file a series of insurance claims. The insurance adjuster might want to interview you alone and might discourage you from hiring a personal injury lawyer. It’s not in your best interest to make statements or negotiate a settlement without help from an attorney. Instead, you should contact an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer right away for help.
Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney David L. Hood: Fighting for Victims of Drunk Driving and Personal Injury in South Carolina
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a serious drunk driving crash or other type of auto accident in South Carolina, contact The Law Office of David L. Hood for help right away. We have served South Carolina accident victims for over 30 years by standing up to insurance companies, demanding fair compensation, and helping our clients rebuild their lives. Contact us online or call us at (843) 491-6025 to schedule your free, no-risk initial consultation with David L. Hood today.
Other online references used in this article:
*The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.