Sustaining injuries in a car accident is a frightening experience regardless of whether you are the driver or the passenger. According to the CDC, someone dies in a drunk driving accident every 50 minutes in the U.S. Impaired driving accounts for 33% of all fatal crashes and leaves thousands of people injured and disabled per year.
If you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident as a passenger, you have a right to seek compensation from the driver. Explore your options as an injured passenger in an impaired driving accident by contacting the experienced South Carolina car crash lawyers at Joye Law Firm.
Your Rights to Compensation as an Injured Passenger
As a passenger in a car crash, you have a right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain, and mental and emotional distress caused by the negligent actions of a drunk driver. You may be able to file a claim with the insurance company of the driver of the vehicle you were in or the driver of the other vehicle’s insurance company, depending on who was at fault.
However, the insurance companies for each driver involved in a collision may argue that the other driver was completely, or at least partially, at fault. Therefore, each insurance company will claim that it is the other driver’s responsibility to compensate you.
Even if the driver of the car you were riding in was intoxicated, this may not mean they are completely at fault for causing the accident. Your claim will not be settled until the insurance companies involved agree on who is liable, and each driver’s percentage of fault.
To negotiate claims with multiple insurance companies, you need a qualified and knowledgeable attorney.
Factors that May Affect Your Compensation
Every drunk driving accident is different. Several factors affect your compensation, such as the details leading up to the collision and each person’s role.
South Carolina is a tort state, which means it uses a fault-based system for determining- liability in car accidents. Under a fault-based system, drunk drivers can be held liable for the costs others incur from crashes the drunk driver causes.
However, the circumstances of the accident are important in determining the comparative fault of each party. Comparative fault is the percentage of negligence or fault of each person involved in the collision.
Modified comparative fault states that you must not be more than 50% at fault for your injuries to receive compensation. If anything about your behavior contributed to the accident, your compensation is reduced by the percentage you were at fault.
While passengers are usually not at fault for a crash, the other side may argue that you might be partially responsible for your own injuries, because you got in a car with someone you knew was drunk, and thus who was more likely to get into a wreck. They may examine your ability to have taken different transportation. Furthermore, if you were not wearing a seatbelt or were behaving in a way that distracted the driver to the point that it may have contributed to them losing control of the vehicle, the other side will try to emphasize your contributions to the crash.
Carefully considering all aspects of the accident with an experienced lawyer can help you avoid pitfalls.
Importance of Obtaining Legal Counsel
A drunk driving accident can be complicated, and your right to be fully compensated can get lost in the process. If multiple parties are making claims, things can get even more complex.
Additionally, the three-year statute of limitations that applies in most cases means you will have to act promptly. The sooner you get legal counsel, the better you will be able to gather evidence and witness accounts.
Hire an Attorney Who Really Knows Drunk Driving Cases
There are many variables in an accident where the driver is drunk. If you are a passenger and sustain injuries, you deserve compensation from the driver’s insurance. Passengers are rarely at fault for a crash, but the other side can build an argument to support otherwise if you don’t have an equally savvy lawyer defending you.
Navigating a complicated case where multiple vehicles and multiple passengers are involved requires a highly qualified attorney that can reduce or eliminate your percentage of fault, and identify who is liable for your injuries and how much you’re owed. If you are looking for the best South Carolina drunk driving crash lawyers, contact Joye Law Firm today to receive a free consultation.