The Process of Settling a Drunk Driving Accident Case With a Myrtle Beach Car Accident Lawyer

There are several steps drunk driving car accident claims must go through before a settlement or court judgment occurs and before you recover compensation.

Filing a Claim

If the at-fault drunk driver is the only defendant in your case, you'll file a claim against that driver's insurance company for your damages, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

In a drunk driving case, however, there might be more than one defendant. South Carolina dram shop liability laws allow you to file additional claims against a bar, restaurant, or social host that served alcohol to the driver shortly before your accident. Filing multiple claims takes longer and is best handled by an experienced auto accident lawyer who can file damage claims more quickly and efficiently than you can on your own. 

Investigating Your Auto Accident

The police report and the insurance company's investigation report of your wreck could contain inaccuracies or omit essential factors in the crash. In such a case, your car accident attorney can call an independent investigator or an accident reconstructionist to establish the drunk driver's liability for your damages. Your lawyer can also obtain results of the driver's field sobriety tests to prove intoxication.

Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

The severity of your injuries will determine how long it takes you to reach MMI. Until you do, your doctors and lawyer won't know how high your future medical costs will be. If you file and settle a claim before reaching MMI, you might not receive enough compensation to cover your medical expenses. You're most likely to get fair compensation by waiting until your doctors feel you've recovered to the extent that you're going to, no matter how long it takes.

Evaluation of Your Claim and Demand Letter

Once you've reached MMI, your attorney will organize and present your medical bills, calculate your lost income, put a dollar amount on your present and future pain and suffering, and send a demand letter to the appropriate insurance companies for a reasonable amount of compensation.

Negotiating With Insurers

The drunk driver's insurance company is likely to counter with a lower offer than the one demanded. At this point, your attorney will begin negotiations with the insurance company's lawyers. This process could require medical testimony from doctors and other expert witnesses, so the time required for a successful settlement negotiation is hard to predict.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the insurance company does not offer a reasonable award after negotiation, your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit and take your case to court to be settled according to South Carolina law. Once the suit is filed, the insurer might finally offer a reasonable award, or the case could go to trial, so there's no way to know exactly how long this procedure might take.

However, our experienced Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyers will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve after a drunk driving accident.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.