When a drunk or otherwise impaired driver gets behind the wheel, that person is making the selfish decision to drive intoxicated and endanger the safety and well-being of everyone on the road. Families and victims of drunk driving collisions experience sudden and overwhelming loss, injuries, anger and physical and mental stress – all of which is almost always preventable.
In 2020, 11,654 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the United States. On average, someone died every 45 minutes because of a drunk driver. Every day, about 32 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes, according to the NHTSA.
DANGERS OF DRUNK DRIVING
Although organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have worked tirelessly in the last several decades to increase public awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence, over 10,000 people die each year in DUI car accidents in the United Sates. On average:
- Drunk driving causes a personal injury in a crash every two minutes.
- Approximately one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident during their lifetime.
- Of the estimated 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each day, an average of less than 3,000 drivers are arrested.
- A drunk driver will drive drunk an estimated 80 times before being arrested.
WHAT IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A DRUNK DRIVER?
The first step after any car accident is to get the medical help you need. Then you should talk to an experienced injury attorney about your case. Auto insurance companies may pressure you to settle your case before you have received all the medical care you need and for less than your injury claim is actually worth.
At Eadon Law, we can help you understand your rights and ensure that you are being offered fair and adequate compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been involved in a serious car crash caused by a drunk driver, our experienced attorneys can fight on your behalf to build the most effective case possible for maximizing any compensation you receive.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO IF INJURED BY A DRUNK DRIVER?
As a drunk-driving accident victim, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of wages and earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of companionship and loved one’s financial contributions, in the case of a fatal or catastrophic injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical expenses
- Future pain and suffering
- Property damages
- Punitive damages
WHAT DOES DRAM SHOP MEAN?
Dram Shop Laws holds bars and restaurants responsible for over-serving visibly drunk patrons who get behind the wheel and put our roadways and community at risk.
South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop statute like some other states. Instead, our state courts have allowed injured victims to pursue recovery from alcohol-related accidents by referring to our state’s criminal statutes concerning the sale of alcohol. For example, S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580(1) prohibits the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21, and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(2) prohibits the sale of the sale alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Using alcohol-related criminal statutes and South Carolina’s common laws of negligence, our courts have held restaurants, bars, social hosts, and others responsible for the injuries caused by an overserved driver (or boat operator). For example, in one of the first cases involving a dram shop claim (Jamison v. The Pantry, Inc.), the Pantry convenience store sold an underage driver a case of beer. About an hour later, the young driver, whose blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit, wrecked into another car causing death and serious injuries. Our Supreme Court allowed the injured persons to bring a dram shop claim against The Pantry stating:
“It was reasonably foreseeable that a nineteen-year-old who was sold a case of beer by a convenience store in violation of statutes would consume a portion of the beer, would become intoxicated, would drive an automobile, would collide with another vehicle, and would injure or kill someone.”
In another case (Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge and Grill, Inc.), South Carolina’s Supreme Court extended dram shop claims for injuries resulting from any business, such as a bar, that violates the statute against serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated adult or someone they should have known was intoxicated. Overall, our courts consistently give legal protection to persons who have suffered injuries caused by a driver under the influence.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE A LAWYER?
South Carolina courts offer legal protection for injuries caused by drunk drivers, but unfortunately these drivers oftentimes don’t have any insurance or enough insurance coverage to pay for a victim’s injuries. Specifically, in South Carolina, many drivers have the minimum coverage limit of $25,000.00. However, South Carolina now requires a person licensed or permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption after 5 p.m. to maintain liability insurance in an amount not less than $1,000,000 (S.C. Code Ann. §61-2-145). Because of the differences in insurance coverage, in drunk driving collision claims, Eadon Law will investigate whether there is another party responsible for the accident such as a bar or restaurant that may have overserved the driver. It is very important to begin this investigation immediately after a drunk driver causes the collision, to begin the process of gathering evidence before it is lost or destroyed.
We recommend that you contact an experienced attorney who has handled many cases for victims of drunk drivers and the establishments that overserved them in the past. Please call Eadon Law at (803) 760-7444 for a free consultation.