Accident With a Drunk Driver? Know Your Legal Options

By Stewart Law Offices
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Driving Drunk in Car

If you were recently involved in a car accident in South Carolina caused by a drunk driver, you are probably confused about your rights and next steps.  An experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyer can explain your options for seeking justice when you call for a free case review.

Types of Expenses that Need Covering

Drunk driving accidents often leave victims with severe injuries that have wide-ranging consequences. Many accident victims incur considerable expenses for the following types of medical care:

  • Ambulance rides and other emergency response services
  • Inpatient and outpatient visits to hospitals and urgent care clinics
  • Follow-up visits with general practitioners or specialists
  • Physical therapy sessions and mental health counseling
  • Surgeries, diagnostic tests, and other specialized procedures
  • Prescription drugs and over-the-counter (OTC) medications
  • Durable medical equipment (DME), like wheelchairs and walkers

Additionally, accident victims can pursue compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle, lost wages, and their pain and suffering.

Short and Long-Term Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents

The initial damage of a drunk driving accident is often due to blunt force trauma or penetrating wounds. Additionally, many victims experience intense bending, twisting, and crushing forces that can cause additional injuries. Common short- and long-term injuries from alcohol-related car accidents include:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Facial and dental injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Back and shoulder injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCIs), including partial or total paralysis
  • Abdominal and internal injuries
  • Arm, elbow, wrist, and hand injuries
  • Dislocated or broken bones
  • Seatbelt and airbag injuries
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement
  • Amputation
  • Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
  • Leg, knee, ankle, and foot injuries
  • “Road rash” and other burn injuries
  • Emotional and psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Legal Options Following an Accident with a Drunk Driver

As you can expect with common injuries like those listed above, the medical expenses stemming from a drunk driving accident can be significant. You may have various legal options to try to cover these expenses depending on the circumstances and the insurance coverage available. Some of your options may include the following:

  • Filing a claim with your own insurer – If you have MedPay and collision insurance, you might choose to file a claim with your own insurer for your medical expenses and vehicle repairs, respectively. If the drunk driver did not have insurance or enough insurance to cover your damages, you could make a claim with your uninsured (UI) or underinsured (UIM) coverage.
  • Filing a claim with the drunk driver’s insurer – If a drunk driver was responsible for the crash that injured you, filing a claim with their insurance provider is probably the most straightforward way of recovering compensation for the injuries you have suffered. An experienced drunk driving accident lawyer can help negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
  • Filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver – If you cannot resolve your claim through an out-of-court settlement, you could file a lawsuit against the drunk driver. If your damages exceed the amount of the drunk driver’s insurance coverage, you would have to try to recover compensation directly from the impaired driver.
  • Filing a claim against a third party – There are times when a third party may be held responsible for an accident caused by a drunk driver, such as if a bar or social host served alcohol to an impaired driver or minor.

Your personal injury lawyer can help you determine the options that are available in your case.

Evidence Needed to Prove Fault

South Carolina follows a fault-based system for auto insurance, which means you have the right to file an insurance claim against the driver responsible for causing the accident, including a drunk driver that crashes into you. However, before you can collect compensation for your claim, you must prove the drunk driver was at fault for the collision by presenting evidence such as:

  • Photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage
  • Video footage of the collision from nearby security or traffic cameras
  • Statements from witnesses who saw the crash
  • Official accident reports prepared by the police
  • Breathalyzer tests and toxicology reports
  • Testimony from experts like medical professionals and crash reconstruction experts

Statute of Limitations

South Carolina’s statute of limitations gives you three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. A knowledgeable South Carolina drunk driving car accident lawyer can help you avoid any issues with the statute of limitations by timely filing your claim and aggressively pursuing compensation during negotiations.

Should I Contact Legal Help?

Yes. If you sustained injuries in a drunk driving accident, you should contact a South Carolina car accident lawyer for legal help as soon as possible. Much is at stake. You shouldn’t be left paying for your crash-related losses out of pocket.

You can count on Stewart Law Offices to thoroughly investigate your claim and identify all possible sources of compensation. Contact our law firm to discuss the details of your South Carolina car accident case in a free initial consultation session with a drunk driving accident lawyer.

Getting in any kind of accident can change your life. We understand the stress, the medical bills, the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with serious injuries. That is why our dedicated personal injury lawyers in the Carolinas are here to help you move forward.