Now is not the time to discuss all of the ways Myrtle Beach drunk driving car accidents can be prevented. It's happened to you. You've been injured, or a drunk driver has killed your loved one, and you need to know what to do.
You do not have to take action alone. As you get help for your drunk driving accident injuries or grieve for your spouse, child, or parent, you have the right to contact an experienced Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer. The Myrtle Beach car accident attorneys at Derrick Law Firm will fight hard to help you get the compensation you deserve.
How a Myrtle Beach Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You After a Drunk Driving Accident
After a crash with a drunk driver, you want to focus on recovering from your injuries, not your personal injury claim.
Our Myrtle Beach car accident lawyers work to leave no stone unturned when investigating drunk driving accidents. If you were injured in an accident in Myrtle Beach, we will thoroughly investigate all evidence, including:
- Witness statements from anyone who saw the accident or had knowledge about the driver's drinking before the crash
- Police reports that show the other party was cited with a ticket or charged with a DUI
- Documents and medical records showing your injuries, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses
- The paper trail of receipts that shows how many drinks the driver paid for and when the drinks were purchased
- The results of any breathalyzer, blood, or urine test conducted after the accident.
- Video footage that shows the driver's intoxication or accident
- Expert witness testimony to provide accident reconstruction if necessary
Your Myrtle Beach car accident attorney will use the evidence to try and prove that the drunk driver caused your accident injuries. Regardless of what happens in a criminal drunk driving case, your personal injury lawyer must prove that:
- The driver who hit you owed you a duty of care
- The driver breached the duty of care by failing to act like a reasonable person
- The driver's actions caused your injuries
- You have a legal right to recover damages
In limited circumstances, you may be able to prove that the establishment that served the driver alcohol is also liable for your car accident injuries. Dram shop liability statutes make it illegal for a bar, restaurant, convenience store, or other business to sell alcohol to an intoxicated person or anyone under 21. When a violation of these criminal laws is proven, South Carolina courts will generally allow a civil suit based on dram shop liability to be brought against the drunk driver who has caused an accident and against any party who illegally served that driver alcohol before the wreck.
Similarly, a social host may be liable for a drunk driving accident caused by a minor if the social host served the minor alcohol.
A drunk driving accident may result in significant ongoing costs and potential damages. South Carolina personal injury law allows car accident victims to pursue a fair award as compensation for their economic damages, such as:
- Medical costs, including your ambulance ride, emergency room services, surgery, prescriptions, medically necessary travel costs, and other medical care expenses
- Property damage caused to your vehicle
- Lost wages during your recovery time
- Loss of earning potential stemming from permanent injuries caused by the collision
By working with an experienced South Carolina injury attorney, you may also be able to seek compensation for non-economic damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced overall quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Additionally, a drunk driving car accident claim can involve punitive damages rather than just compensation for negligence. A judge or jury awards punitive damages as a punishment for the drunk driver's conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future.
Your experienced car accident attorney will seek fair compensation from the drunk driver and any other defendants who contributed to the car accident.
Handling Difficult Communication, Settlement Negotiations, and Legal Proceedings
Emotions run high after a Myrtle Beach, SC, car accident, especially if a reckless and intoxicated driver caused the crash. To save yourself further grief and prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of you, a car accident lawyer can handle communication with the at-fault party's insurance provider and represent you in all other aspects of your car accident case.
An insurance adjuster may attempt to contact you after the car crash to discuss the accident and obtain a recorded statement. Their goal could be to get you to make statements that can be used against you later, including comments or remarks that will help the insurance company avoid paying compensation for your injuries. However, a car accident lawyer can manage all conversations with the adjusters on your behalf.
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.