An unfortunate reality is that there are far too many drunk drivers on South Carolina’s roads each year. In fact, recently South Carolina has had the worst number of drunken driving deaths. While there are criminal charges that accompany the arrests of drunk drivers, families are often left feeling incomplete, especially if they lost a loved one.
How DUIs lead to Wrongful Death Cases
When an individual has died in an accident involving a drunk driver, it is possible that the deceased individual’s family can bring a wrongful death action. This wrongful death action may come against the drunk driver, but it also may come against any establishment that may have served the drunk driver too much to drink. If a driver is convicted of driving drunk, their conviction may or may not be admissible in a civil case. However, even if someone was not convicted criminally for driving under the influence, the family of a deceased individual may still recover in a civil case. The criminal case is intended to punish the drunk driver, but a civil case for surviving family members is intended to compensate them for their loss.
What Compensation can a family get in a Wrongful Death Case Caused by a Drunk Driver?
There is no amount of money that can fill the whole of a lost family member. However, with the help of an experienced lawyer, it is possible for family members to recover compensation they deserve. Damages for wrongful death cases include medical costs up until the death of the individual in the accident, funeral expenses, and a value of future lost income for the victim’s life, damages for emotional distress suffered by the victim’s family and punitive damages. Unlike a traditional car accident, when one driver is drunk, there may be a higher chance that a court will award punitive damages.
Why are punitive damages awarded in Drunk Driving accidents?
The law in South Carolina allows a deceased individual’s family to recover punitive damages when the at-fault party was reckless, willful or wanton when causing harm. This typically means the at-fault driver was doing something wrong (for example being drunk behind the wheel of the car). Like a criminal conviction, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. It also serves a larger public purpose of hoping to discourage other drivers from the same type of behavior. In some cases there is a cap or limit on the amount of punitive damages an individual or family can recover, but South Carolina has lifted this cap if the wrongdoer is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Have you been in an accident with a drunk driver?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you work through the process of making a claim and getting the compensation you deserve if you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver. The personal injury attorneys at the Solomon Law Group can help you develop a personal injury case and can help you seek the recovery that you deserve.