Any car accident is devastating, but when alcohol is involved, the outcome can be even more grim. In fact, alcohol is the leading cause of traffic fatalities, making up more than 30% of fatal car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Not only are drunk driving accidents more likely to be fatal, but they can have other serious consequences as well.
Drunk Driving Statistics
There were more than 11,600 deaths due to drunk driving in 2020, according to the NHTSA. That is a 14% increase from 2019. One person dies every 45 minutes in a drunk driving crash. That’s about 32 people per day throughout the United States.
Statistics in South Carolina aren’t better than those nationally. There are nearly 300 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities annually in South Carolina, according to Responsibility.org. That’s more than 28% of the total car accident fatalities in the state. The majority (73.1%) of the drunk driving accidents in South Carolina involve high blood alcohol contents above .15%. Additionally, many of the crashes occurred due to repeat offenders.
How Are Drunk Driving Claims Different?
Unlike some crashes that involve the weather or other factors, drunk driving accidents are preventable. The intoxicated driver should not have gotten behind the wheel. Because of this, liability is much easier to prove in drunk driving cases than in typical car accident claims.
Proving Liability in a Drunk Driving Crash
To show that the drunk driver is liable for your damages, you must prove negligence, reckless, or wrongful actions. In an alcohol related car accident, you have all those elements. Specifically, the elements of drunk driving negligence include:
- The driver owed you a duty to drive sober
- The driver breached that duty and drove drunk
- The breach of duty caused the car accident
- You suffered damages as a result of the car accident
In a drunk driving case, you can use the police officer and blood alcohol testing to prove that the drunk driver violated the law. They had a duty to drive sober and they breached that duty when they drove while intoxicated.
You need to be able to prove that the drunk driver’s actions caused the car accident. You might use physical evidence on the roadway, video from a traffic camera or dash cam, or eyewitness statements to prove the drunk driver caused the crash. Often, the police report will make it obvious that the drunk driver was responsible for the crash.
The final element of drunk driving crashes is the same as any other personal injury claim. You must prove you suffered damages. This can be done through medical bills, proof of lost wages, evidence of pain and suffering, and other documentation about your losses.
Insurance Coverage for Drunk Driving Accidents
Even if a car accident occurs while a driver is breaking the law, their liability insurance will still cover your damages. That means that if they intentionally drank alcohol and caused a crash with their vehicle, their insurance will pay you.
Can I Get Punitive Damages for a Drunk Driving Accident
In some cases, you may be able to get punitive damages awarded in a drunk driving accident. Since the drunk driver was reckless in driving while intoxicated, a judge or jury may award you punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for losses. Instead, they punish the individual for particularly wrongful actions – like drinking and driving. This is meant to prevent such actions in the future.
How Can a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Help Me?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a drunk driving accident in South Carolina, it’s essential that you contact a drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Your attorney can help you:
- Get the police report
- Obtain blood alcohol tests, field sobriety tests, and roadside breath test results
- Collect statements from eyewitnesses
- Gather evidence from the scene of the accident
- Determine how much your case is worth
- Draft and file legal documents
- File a drunk driving accident claim with the insurance company
- Send a demand for compensation to the insurance company
- Negotiate with other parties for a fair settlement
- Take your case to trial, if necessary
The drunk driver will have an attorney on their side, and so should you. Don’t try to risk it alone. They will take advantage of you and may even deny your claim altogether.
Call Attorney Venus Poe After a Drunk Driving Accident
Drunk driving accidents are somewhat different from normal auto crashes. They can be even more devastating, often resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities. You need someone on your side who knows South Carolina drunk driving and personal injury laws to help you get the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Attorney Venus Poe is an experienced and tough drunk driving lawyer who has helped countless clients just like you. Call today at 864-754-0823 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney.