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DUI/ Drunk Driving Auto Accidents in SC

Why do we have DUI laws in SC?

The short answer is because, when people drive drunk, they can cause carnage on the highways. Alcohol and other drugs delay a person's reaction time and can cause a person to drive more recklessly and at higher speeds. A drunk driver is more likely to collide with another vehicle or a pedestrian and, when they do have an accident, it is more likely to be severe because they are less likely to take evasive action or hit the brakes quickly.

Our DUI defense attorneys at Axelrod and Associates represent persons who are charged with DUI. Our Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyers also aggressively represent persons who have been hurt by drunk drivers and we work hard to get maximum compensation for victims of drunk drivers.

SC Drunk Driving Accidents are Different Than Other Wreck Cases

A car wreck caused by a drunk driver is different than most other SC auto accidents in both nature and degree. The drunk driver is more likely to be at fault than a sober driver, and your potential recovery is likely to be higher. Why?

Insurance companies know that a drunk driver is possibly the least sympathetic defendant to jurors in an auto accident trial. Unless the accident was clearly the fault of the other driver, the fact that a driver was intoxicated is pretty strong evidence that they were the at-fault party.

The insurance company knows that they are going to be on the hook for the victim's medical expenses, future medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other damages that are available under SC law. What else does the insurance company know? There is a good chance they will also be on the hook for punitive damages if the case makes it to a jury...

Any time a person is hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, there is also the possibility for a "dram shop action." If you can prove that the drunk driver was served alcohol by a bar or other establishment after the person was visibly intoxicated, you may also have a cause of action against the bar.

Punitive Damages in SC DUI Accident Cases

An auto accident plaintiff in SC must prove that the defendant's conduct was willful, wanton, or reckless before jurors can award punitive damages at trial. It must be proven by "clear and convincing" evidence - a slightly higher standard of proof than what is required to prove liability and damages (preponderance of the evidence) and a slightly lower standard of proof than is required to prove guilt in the criminal case (beyond any reasonable doubt).

If a SC DUI defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty in their criminal case, the fact that they were DUI is now established for the civil case as well - remember, the standard of proof is lower in the civil case than it was in the criminal prosecution.

Even if a drunk driver is acquitted in criminal court, the victim can still relitigate the issue in the civil case - again, because the standard of proof is lower in the civil court. What if the drunk driver pleads guilty to the lesser offense of reckless driving? Remember, recklessness is what must be proven before the jurors can award punitive damages...

SC Caps on Punitive Damages Don't Apply to DUI Accidents

South Carolina limits punitive damages awards to three times the compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

But, there is an exception for drunk driving cases: there is no cap on punitive damages where the defendant was convicted of a felony charge arising from the auto accident -or- when the defendant was driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.

Injured by a Drunk Driver in SC?

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash with a drunk driver, we want to help. Schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.

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Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
4701 Oleander Drive, Suite A
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Phone: 843-353-3449
Fax: 843.916.9311
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Rock Hill, SC 29730

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Axelrod & Associates, P.A.
3700 Golf Colony Ln
Little River, SC 29566

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