Getting into a car accident is bad enough, but things can seem even worse if you’ve gotten into an accident with an intoxicated driver. While you may be the victim of unfortunate circumstances, you do have options. Here’s some basic advice to take into consideration if you were hit by a drunk driver. If you’ve been hit in the South Carolina area, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident attorney at Harris & Graves, P.A. for legal council.
Filing a Civil Case Against the Drunk Driver
Because drunk driving is illegal, your local prosecutor or district attorney will likely file criminal charges. However, in order to receive compensation for your own personal loss, you will need to file civil charges against the driver.
You will likely be entitled to compensation for compensatory damages, which include special and general damages. Special damages are your specific, monetary expenses resulting from the accident like medical expenses, economic losses and lost income. General damages cover your intangible loss resulting from the accident like your physical and mental pain and suffering.
You may also be entitled to compensation for punitive damages. Punitive damages are placed on the drunk driver solely to punish them for their actions and to make an example of them to discourage such reckless behavior.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
If the driver has insurance, keep in mind that their insurance company is not working in your favor. They will likely attempt to settle the case as quickly as possible by offering you as little money as possible. While you may just want the whole ordeal to be over, avoid settling your case early or signing anything too soon. Remember that you have multiple options, and a car accident attorney with your interests at heart can help you choose the best one for your situation.
Even if the drunk driver does not have adequate insurance to compensate you for your losses, there is still hope. Check with your own insurance policy to see if yours includes uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If it does, you can try filing a claim with your own insurance for compensation.
Familiarize Yourself With Your State Laws
In addition to filing a claim against the driver’s insurance or your own insurance, you may also be entitled to pursue a claim against another person or business. These laws vary by state, and they depend on the other party’s involvement in causing the accident.
The state of South Carolina allows you to file a civil case against the private host who provided alcohol to an underage or obviously intoxicated guest. Certain states have these laws in order to discourage serving alcohol to already drunk guests and to hold them accountable if their intoxicated guests leave and cause an accident.
If the intoxicated driver hit you while driving a vehicle they did not own, you might be able to file a civil case for negligent entrustment against the owner of the vehicle. If the owner gave the drunk person the keys to their vehicle, it is likely that they were aware they were intoxicated and unable to drive. This makes them a liable party for the accident and your damages.
Finally, if you were hit by a driver while you were on the job, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation. In this case, rather than filing a civil claim against the drunk driver, you file a claim through workers’ compensation court or through your state’s industrial court.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
The best option if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver is to contact a car accident attorney. The attorneys at Harris & Graves, P.A. have been serving South Carolinians for over two decades and are here to help you through this difficult time.