If you’re injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina, you might be able to file claims against more than one party, depending on the circumstances and details surrounding your wreck.
The Effects of Alcohol Upon Motorists
Drunk driving causes so many accidents because alcohol affects drivers in ways that make it dangerous for them to be on the road:
- Limited vision
- Longer than normal reaction times
- Bad decision-making due to intoxication
A motorist under the influence of alcohol is more likely than a sober driver to cause a wreck by:
- Driving distractedly
- Using lights or signals improperly
- Swinging wide on turns
- Drifting out of the lane or overcorrecting
- Following other cars too closely
- Slowing down erratically
Compensation for Damages
If you’re injured in a wreck caused by the negligence of any other driver, drunk or sober, you’re entitled to file a claim against that driver’s auto insurer for damages you suffer due to the crash:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
In some cases, though, if the at-fault driver has only the minimum liability coverage limits required by South Carolina law, there might not be enough insurance money to cover all the expenses listed above. Even if your claim is successful, you could be left owing medical and other bills. In such a case, you might be able to:
- File a claim for your outstanding expenses with your own insurer, which could dispute your claim to save money for the company
- Sue the at-fault driver personally, but even if you prevail, you cannot collect assets the defendant doesn’t have
The services of a car accident attorney are recommended in either of the above circumstances.
Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop laws regulate and control the sale of alcohol. If the at-fault driver who hit you was under the influence of alcohol, dram shop liability laws might enable you to sue more than one party for your damages—thus increasing the probability that all your expenses will be covered.
If any of the parties listed below overserved the driver (or served any alcohol to a driver under 21) who then caused an accident that injured you, that party is partially liable for your damages:
- A liquor or convenience store
- A bar, restaurant, tavern, or nightclub
- A social host
Every liquor license holder in South Carolina carries one million dollars worth of dram shop liability insurance, so the resources to compensate you for damages are there if you can prove your claim.
Proving Dram Shop Liability
To collect compensation from the party who overserved the at-fault driver, you must prove the intoxication of the at-fault driver was the proximate cause of the accident that damaged you. You'll need evidence showing the alcohol provider breached its duty to:
- Verify every customer’s legal age before serving alcohol
- Recognize symptoms/evidence of intoxication
- Refuse alcohol to any intoxicated or underage customer
- Assist intoxicated customers in finding safe transportation
Evidence of intoxication that should be noticed by alcohol servers includes:
- Staggering, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, or confusion
- The server’s awareness of the types and number of alcoholic beverages served to the at-fault driver, as well as the time period within which those beverages were consumed
If you can prove an alcohol provider is even 1% responsible for your accident, you can receive 100% of the damages awarded by the court.
The Need for an Attorney
Proving the elements of liability above, however, can be a difficult and complicated task. An experienced lawyer can take this responsibility off your shoulders by obtaining, organizing, and presenting your evidence:
- Results of sobriety/BAC tests
- Accident report
- Witnesses’ accounts of the crash or defendant’s drinking before the crash
- Video footage from nearby cameras
- Medical records of your:
- Present and future treatments and expenses
- Prognosis of recovery
- Total or partial disability
Your attorney will also know how to:
- Evaluate your case to demand fair settlements from multiple insurers
- File suits against multiple defendants and fight for you in court if your case goes to trial
- Make sure you observe the statute of limitations and all other procedural requirements for a successful claim/lawsuit
Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you should speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.