When a person chooses to consume alcohol prior to operating a motor vehicle, they pose a risk not only to themselves, but also to anyone else on the road at the same time. What’s more, when a drunk driver causes a crash, it is often times the other driver, not the drunk driver, who sustains the most severe of injuries.
While a drunk driver may face criminal penalties when they cause an injury to another person as a result of their intoxicated operation of a motor vehicle, the victim of the crash also has the right to bring civil charges against the drunk driver as well.
At Joye Law Firm, our Charleston injury attorneys should be your first call after you or a loved one is injured in a drunk driving accident in South Carolina.
Drunk driving crashes can be terrible; when a person is impaired to a point where they cannot safely control their vehicle, a crash may be worse than it would be had two sober drivers been involved, both of whom could take corrective actions as the accident was occurring. For example, not only may a drunk driver be speeding, but they may also be traveling at night without their headlights on, and traveling in the wrong direction – straight into oncoming traffic. While a sober driver would swerve into the appropriate lane if they realized a head-on collision was imminent, a drunk driver may not have the faculties to do such a thing, resulting in a head-on collision while traveling at a high speed. This is just one example of a dangerous and deadly thing that can occur when a drunk person operates a vehicle. Needless to say, drunk driving crashes are often destructive and tragic. Some common injuries caused in drunk driving accidents include:
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It is important to note, as briefly mentioned above, that a drunk driver may face both criminal charges and civil charges. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is high: a defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that there can be no doubt that the defendant committed the crime of drunk driving, and that if there is doubt, they cannot be convicted.
In a civil case, on the other hand, the burden of proof is merely a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a much lower standard. This means that the plaintiff (injured party) must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In fact, the plaintiff need not even prove that the defendant was intoxicated beyond the legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content; instead, they must merely prove that the defendant committed an act of negligence, and that this negligent act was the direct cause of the accident. The fact that the defendant’s blood or breath results show that the defendant was intoxicated is merely an important – and likely very convincing – piece of evidence, but it is not the only piece of evidence, nor is it the crux of the civil action. A completely sober driver could also be held liable in civil court if a plaintiff can establish that the driver did something to violate the reasonable standard of care, such as speeding or driving in the wrong direction.
You have the right to be compensated for your injuries after a drunk driver has hit you. This is true whether you were acting as a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or another driver at the time of crash. This is also true even if you contributed to the accident in some way, assuming that the drunk driver was mostly at fault (see South Carolina’s comparative fault laws).
At Joye Law Firm, we want to help you hold a drunk driver liable for the injuries they have caused. Not only will we work hard to obtain evidence that is key to your lawsuit, including the results of the driver’s blood or breath alcohol test, but we will also build a case, negotiate with an insurance adjuster, and represent you in court if it comes to that.
If you are a victim of a drunk driving collision, do not wait to pick up the phone and call our competent Charleston drunk driving accident attorney today.
Milton Stratos II
Brent H. Arant
Randell Croft Stoney III
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