The holiday season is a dangerous time of year for South Carolina drivers. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) show that drunk driving-related accidents increase significantly during the holiday season, and last year The State reported that South Carolina police ramped up their DUI enforcement efforts during the holidays in an attempt to reduce the Palmetto State’s extremely high rate of drunk driving accidents and fatalities.
However, even the most-aggressive anti-drunk driving campaigns are incapable of entirely preventing drunk drivers from hitting the roads. Whether they simply ignore the risks of driving while impaired or they get too drunk to make a smart decision and get a ride home, some people are going to drive drunk. While a DUI conviction can teach a lesson, it does nothing to compensate the victims of a drunk driver’s mistake.
Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident During the Holidays in South Carolina
If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina during the holidays, or if you have lost a loved one in a DUI-involved accident, you will need to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim in order to recover your losses. Here are some important considerations for protecting your family’s legal rights from the attorneys at Lewis Law Firm:
1. Understanding Your Family’s Legal Rights
First, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of your family’s legal rights. In South Carolina, auto insurance policies provide fault-based coverage for accidents caused by drunk drivers; and, by law, accident victims are entitled to full compensation for their accident-related losses. As we discuss below, you still need to prove fault in order to recover your family’s losses; but, the basic legal principle that applies in drunk driving cases is that at-fault drivers are legally and financially responsible for all harm that they cause.
2. Collecting Evidence of Fault
At the scene of the accident, it may have been fairly obvious that the driver who hit you or your loved one was drunk. Maybe he or she was stumbling around, and maybe he or she even admitted to having too much to drink before getting behind the wheel. But, while this may be the case, proving fault within the context of your insurance claim may still present a number of challenges.
For this reason, after a drunk driving accident, it is important to conduct an investigation promptly. The focus of the investigation should be not only on proving that the other driver was drunk, but also that he or she caused the accident. Even if the other driver was clearly drunk, his or her insurance company may still try to argue that other factors were to blame for the collision.
3. Collecting Evidence of Your Losses
In addition to proving fault, in order to recover just compensation, you also need to prove the extent of your family’s losses. This includes financial and non-financial losses, and covers everything from medical expenses and lost wages to emotional trauma and loss of enjoyment of life. There are various ways to prove your financial and non-financial losses, and collecting as much evidence as possible will be key to maximizing your financial recovery. This includes evidence such as:
- Medical bills
- Receipts for prescriptions, medical supplies, and other accident-related expenses
- Employment records
- Your medical records and your doctor’s long-term treatment recommendations
- Your daily calendar or pain journal
4. Dealing with Out-of-State and Other Insurance Issues
If you were visiting family in South Carolina and you are from out of state, dealing with the insurance companies might present some unique challenges. The same is true if the drunk driver is not a South Carolina resident.
Other insurance-related issues can complicate the process of recovering just compensation as well – for example, if the drunk driver is uninsured or underinsured, or if the drunk driver’s insurance company attempts to deny your claim in bad faith. While you have the option to handle your insurance claim on your own, due to the number and complexity of the potential issues involved, it is generally advisable to hire an attorney to handle your claim on your behalf.
5. Understanding Common Myths and Avoiding Common Mistakes
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to seeking financial compensation after a drunk driving accident. If you rely on this misinformation or make other all-too-common mistakes, you could potentially jeopardize your financial recovery. For some tips on avoiding these mistakes, you can read:
- 10 Myths about Insurance Claims in South Carolina
- The Mistakes a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Avoid
6. Hiring a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawyer
When dealing with a DUI-involved accident, there is simply no substitute for experienced legal representation. You need to make smart decisions based on sound legal advice, and you need to know that you have a skilled and committed advocate fighting to help you recover just compensation. Generally, if your accident happened in South Carolina, you will want to hire a South Carolina personal injury lawyer or wrongful death lawyer to represent you. For some tips on choosing an attorney, you can read:
7. Focusing on Your Recovery
Finally, while dealing with the consequences of a drunk driving accident can be overwhelming, it is important to make sure that you take care of yourself and your family. Focus on your physical and emotional recovery, and take the time rest, cope, and grieve. At Lewis Law Firm, we handle our clients’ insurance claims from start to finish. We will work diligently while you take the time to recover, and we will keep you fully informed so that you can make informed decisions when necessary.
Speak with a Rock Hill, SC Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
If you would like more information about our attorneys’ legal representation for victims of drunk driving accidents in South Carolina, please call 803-327-1103 or contact us online. We provide free initial consultations, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just com