After a fun afternoon enjoying the beach, you pull onto Carolina Bays Parkway, just outside of Myrtle Beach, to head home. Suddenly you encounter another vehicle flying by you going in the wrong direction of the divided highway. This scenario may sound farfetched, but it actually occurs far more often than you might think. Drivers going the wrong-way on a one-way highway is a serious problem. These drivers, who are often heavily intoxicated, cause a tremendous number of very serious accidents. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong-way DUI accident, please contact an experienced Myrtle Beach car accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Wrong-Way Accidents: Alcohol is Often a Factor
In 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) put together a special investigative report, which examined the prevalence and causes of wrong-way accidents. While the report made it clear that these types of accidents are relatively uncommon, it also emphasized that they are especially dangerous when they do occur. This is no surprise. When a fast moving vehicle suddenly collides with an object, it puts a great deal of destructive force on the bodies of the occupants. When the vehicle collides with a separate fast moving vehicle, that is travelling in the opposite direction, that force is multiplied. The NTSB report also noted that many serious wrong-way accidents are tied to alcohol. Specifically, the report found almost two-thirds of all deadly wrong-way accidents were caused by a drunk driver. This is especially concerning for drivers in the Myrtle Beach area, because South Carolina is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to drunk driving. In 2014, South Carolina had the fourth most drunk driving deaths per capita in the entire country. Further, the state actually had the most drunk driving deaths per vehicle mile travelled. It is clear that the state of South Carolina needs to do more to reduce the risks caused by drunk drivers.
Drunk Driving is a Criminal Offense, But You Need to Take Civil Action
The driver who is at-fault for a wrong-way DUI accident in Myrtle Beach will almost certainly face criminal charges. Those charges can come with severe penalties. There is no doubt that this criminal case is an important part of bringing justice for the victims. However, a criminal trial will not be able to help an injured victim recover the accident compensation that they deserve. Civil action will also be necessary. In South Carolina, a civil case and a criminal case are two distinct proceedings. They even have different standards of proof involved. Most people are familiar with the fact that a court must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ in a criminal trial. In a civil case, the victim only has to meet the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard. This lower threshold can be thought of as a ‘more likely than not’ standard. Following an accident, Myrtle Beach DUI accident victims should hire an aggressive car accident attorney who can help them take civil action. Ultimately, victims will only obtain the fair compensation that they deserve through a civil case and the corresponding settlement negotiations.
Compensation Available for Victims of a Wrong-Way DUI Accident
Injured car accident victims are entitled to compensation for the full extent of their losses. Further, in a wrong-way DUI accident, victims may also be entitled to an additional form of compensation known as punitive damages. More specifically, victims may seek compensation for:
- Economic damages: This category of damages includes all quantifiable monetary costs. A victim may seek recovery for all property damage, the full extent of their medical expenses, any rehabilitation-related expenses, and lost income. Ultimately, an injured victim should receive a settlement offer that covers all of the economic losses that are related to the accident. While some economic losses are relatively simple to calculate, such as the cost of medical bill, others are far more complicated. For example, if you require long-term medical care due to your injury, you can be sure that it will be challenging to calculate. It is critical that these damages are fairly valued.
- Non-economic damages: Victims are also entitled to recovery for the full extent of their non-economic damages. This includes pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of life enjoyment and disfigurement. By their very nature, non-economic damages are difficult to quantify. How do you put a precise dollar figure on the pain and suffering associated with a life-altering leg injury? There is not an easy answer to that question and South Carolina does not offer a definitive formula that you can apply to every single case. Due to the complexity, insurance companies often attempt to severely underestimate the true value of pain and suffering damages. If you have sustained any pain and suffering due to your Myrtle Beach car accident, you need to speak to an attorney immediately. Your attorney can help you keep the insurance company honest.
- Punitive damages: Finally, wrong-way DUI accidents are unique because punitive damages are often available. Unlike other types of damages, punitive damages are not tied to the victim’s losses. Instead, they are simply meant to punish the bad actions of the party who caused the accident. That being said, they are still awarded to the victim. In the majority of South Carolina car accident injury cases, victims will not be able to recover punitive damages. These damages are only available in a small number of cases in which the defendant has caused an injury intentionally or has willfully engaged in an extremely reckless behavior. In South Carolina, a major wrong-way DUI accident may be considered good cause to seek punitive damages.
Were You Injured by a Drunk Driver?
Far too many wrong-way collisions occur as the result of drunk drivers. These accidents are especially dangerous and the at-fault drivers must be held accountable. At Joye Law Firm, our aggressive South Carolina car accident attorneys have helped many victims recover the full and fair compensation that they deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, please contact our Myrtle Beach office today to set up your free legal consultation.