Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Columbia, SC
If you have been injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina, you should not have to bear any financial burdens that have resulted from the drunk driver’s behavior. The effects of a drunk driving accident are often severe and can include serious injuries, costly medical bills, and lost wages from time off work. If you’ve suffered these and other losses and someone else is to blame, they should be held responsible for compensating you.
A Columbia drunk driving accident lawyer from the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis can advocate for your rights while you heal after a traumatic drunk driving accident. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to giving injury victims the personalized legal representation they deserve and fighting for maximum compensation for their injuries and other losses. This dedication is evidenced by our firm’s many 5-star reviews on Google, the satisfied clients who have recommended our services to family and friends, and the awards and accolades we’ve received from organizations like the National Trial Lawyers Association, which has named Chris Davis to its “Top 40 Under 40” list for several consecutive years.
Don’t wait to demand the money and the justice you’re owed. Reach out to us today for a free consultation with a Columbia drunk driving accident lawyer and find out what the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis can do for you.
What Are the Drunk Driving Laws in Columbia, SC?
In South Carolina, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a crime. Registering a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 percent is illegal per se, meaning that a sufficiently elevated BAC alone is evidence of criminal wrongdoing. However, a driver may also be charged with DUI even if their BAC is under the legal limit if their driving is obviously impaired. A first-time conviction for DUI may carry a penalty of fines and suspension of driving privileges, while subsequent convictions usually result in jail or prison time, confiscation of the driver’s vehicle, and permanent revocation of their driver’s license.
A drunk driver may be charged with a felony offense if they cause an accident while under the influence that results in serious injury or death to another person.
Under South Carolina law, every driver has consented to breath testing, urine testing, or blood testing for alcohol or drugs simply by getting behind the wheel of a car. As a result of this implied consent, refusing to submit to testing results in an automatic suspension of driving privileges.
If an intoxicated driver causes an accident that results in injury to another person or property damage, they may be liable for financial compensation in civil court.
What Qualifies as Drunk Driving?
A driver in South Carolina is presumed to be drunk driving if they have a blood alcohol content of:
- 0.08 percent for drivers 21 and older who are operating non-commercial vehicles
- 0.04 percent for drivers 21 and older who are operating commercial vehicles
- 0.02 percent for drivers under 21
Even if a driver has a BAC below these limits, they can be charged with drunk driving or be held liable in a civil case if they had alcohol in their system and other evidence demonstrates that they were impaired to the point they could not safely operate their vehicle at the time that they caused harm to others.
What Are South Carolina’s Dram Shop Liability Laws?
In addition to drunk drivers, other parties may also be held liable in a drunk driving accident case under South Carolina’s dram shop law. The dram shop law states that a bar, club, or restaurant may be held liable if they serve alcohol to a patron under 21 or a visibly intoxicated patron, and that patron later causes a motor vehicle accident while they are drunk.
The dram shop law also imposes social host liability on private individuals who serve alcohol in a private residence or at a private party or gathering to an attendee under 21 if the attendee leaves the gathering and causes an accident while driving drunk.
Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for a Crash?
You might be entitled to sue a drunk driver if they were at fault for an accident in which you were injured. You may also be entitled to pursue compensation from the owner of the vehicle involved in the collision if the vehicle is owned by someone other than the drunk driver. This is called a claim of negligent entrustment. A negligent entrustment case arising from a drunk driving accident requires proof that the owner of the vehicle allowed the intoxicated driver to operate the owner’s car while the owner knew or should have known that the driver was drunk or had a substantial risk of driving the vehicle while intoxicated.
Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault in Columbia, SC?
It is often easier for victims of drunk driving accidents to pursue compensation for their injuries than victims of other kinds of motor vehicle accidents. In any auto accident case, the injured party must demonstrate that another party was at fault for the crash and is therefore liable for compensating that injured party for their losses. However, in a drunk driving accident case, an injured victim can generally prove that the intoxicated driver bears liability for the crash under the legal theory of negligence per se. This theory allows the party injured in a drunk driving crash to argue that the other driver bears liability for the accident and resulting injuries because they were breaking the law by driving drunk at the time of the accident.
Therefore, rather than having to prove that a driver’s error caused the accident, the victim of a drunk driving accident can argue that the intoxicated driver is liable because they were breaking the law (by driving drunk) at the time of the accident.
Arguing a case under the theory of negligence per se does mean that a drunk driver will automatically be found at fault for an accident. If the evidence shows that someone other than the intoxicated driver bears a greater share of fault for the accident – for example, if a third driver involved in a crash ran a red light and caused the accident that happened to involve a drunk driver and caused injuries to the victim – that third party may be held partially or solely at fault for the accident.
What Damages Can You Seek as a Columbia Drunk Driving Accident Victim?
If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you likely have the right to pursue compensation for both monetary losses – such as medical expenses related to your injuries – as well as personal losses – such as pain and suffering – that you incurred due to the accident. This compensation could include money for:
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs or medical equipment, as well as home healthcare services if you suffered permanent disabilities due to the accident
- Loss of wages or income and employment benefits if you cannot return to work due to the injuries you suffered in the accident
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life because of scarring/disfigurement or permanent physical disability caused by your injuries
In rare cases, you may also be entitled to an award of punitive damages in a drunk driving accident lawsuit. To secure these damages, you must prove that the driver’s behavior was particularly egregious, perhaps because of their extreme intoxication or their extensive history of drunk driving. You should speak with an experienced DUI accident lawyer at our firm to learn more about whether these damages may be applicable to your case.
How Can Our Columbia Drunk Driving Lawyer Help You with Your Case?
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you deserve to hold that driver accountable for the harm you have suffered. At the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis, we strive to offer compassionate and aggressive legal representation to drunk driving accident victims. Our Columbia drunk driving accident lawyer can help you with your case by:
- Offering you personalized service, which includes working directly with attorney Chris Davis rather than having to go through an assistant or paralegal
- Respecting your time and energy by promptly responding to your calls and emails and explaining every step of the legal process
- Conducting an in-depth investigation into the accident to gather all necessary evidence and then building a solid case designed to hold the intoxicated driver liable for compensating you for your injuries
- Thoroughly documenting your injuries and personal losses, which includes estimating the costs of future medical expenses or care, lost income or wages due to an inability to work, and pain and suffering
- Identifying all liable parties, such as other drivers involved in the crash or the bar, restaurant, or a social host that served the intoxicated driver
- Aggressively pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf, whether by negotiating a settlement with at-fault parties and insurance companies or by taking your case to trial if a settlement offer does not get you the money you deserve
Contact Us Now to Discuss Your Legal Options
If you have been injured in an accident in South Carolina that was caused by a drunk driver, you have a right to seek justice and pursue compensation for your injuries. A Columbia drunk driving accident lawyer with the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis can build a solid case to hold the at-fault party accountable and seek maximum compensation for your injuries and personal losses. Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about our compassionate approach to advocating for the rights of accident victims. We look forward to speaking with you.