While we all recognize the immense danger associated with drinking and driving, far too many motorists fail to let this danger stop them from getting behind the wheel when over the limit. If you’ve lost a loved one to a drunk driver, no amount of compensation can resolve the anguish you experience.
Just compensation, however, can help you successfully navigate the journey toward recovery. If you find yourself in this difficult position, it’s time to consult with an experienced Greenville wrongful death attorney. Call Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm to request a free case evaluation.
The Prevalence of DUIs With Death
Drunk driving is exceptionally dangerous, and the statistics bear this out, including the following eye-openers forwarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- In 2020, drunk drivers took 11,654 lives, which represents a 14 percent increase over the number of lives lost to drunk drivers in 2019.
- Every day in the United States, 32 people succumb to the injuries they sustain in drunk driving accidents.
- In this country, there is a death related to drunk driving every 45 minutes.
Finally, NHTSA reminds all of us that these deaths are completely preventable.
Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for an Accident That Results in Death?
If your loved one was killed in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you could seek compensation for the losses you experience in a wrongful death claim, which is a civil claim. The drunk driver will also very likely face criminal charges for the fatal accident they caused as a result of choosing to get behind the wheel while under the influence.
The driver’s criminal charge and conviction can bolster your own civil case by helping to prove that the motorist’s negligence – in the form of impairment – caused the fatal accident that killed your loved one.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Drunk Driver
In South Carolina, the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate must file the wrongful death claim. The decedent refers to your lost loved one, and if they did not name an administrator in their will – or if they don’t have a will – the court will appoint someone to the position. This administrator will file the wrongful death claim on behalf of you and any other survivors, which refers to those who are eligible to recover on their losses.
In South Carolina, those eligible include the following (in order of eligibility):
- The surviving spouse and children of the decedent
- The surviving parents of the decedent
- The heirs of the decedent – in accordance with the state’s laws of inheritance
Often wrongful death claims are settled out of court, but if the insurance company involved fails to negotiate fairly, your trusted wrongful death attorney would likely advise you to move forward by filing a lawsuit against the insurance provider.
In a South Carolina wrongful death claim, you can seek compensation for your losses – or legal damages – in all the following categories:
- The income that your loved one would have continued to earn had they lived and that you would have logically and reasonably benefitted from
- Your mental pain and suffering, wounded feelings, grief, and sorrow
- Your loss of companionship and the loss of your loved one’s society, which includes the experience, knowledge, and judgment they had to impart
- The cost of your loved one’s final medical expenses – related to the accident that ultimately proved fatal – and funeral and burial costs
In wrongful death cases that involve a drunk driver – unlike most wrongful death claims – you can also seek punitive damages, which are designed not to compensate you but to punish the drunk driver and deter other motorists from engaging in such practices.
Factors Affecting Your Wrongful Death DUI Claim
To bring your strongest claim, you’ll need to prove that the other driver was, indeed, over the legal limit in terms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and was responsible for causing the car accident that killed your loved one. The criminal case against the motorist who was under the influence can go a long way toward helping you build your strongest wrongful death claim.
One of the most important steps you can take if you’ve lost a loved one to a drunk driver is working closely with a seasoned wrongful death attorney from the outset.
Discuss Your Claim with an Experienced Greenville Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If a driver who is under the influence of alcohol causes the death of your loved one, obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled can be critical to your family’s ability to heal. Motorists recognize that drunk driving is not only exceptionally dangerous but is also against the law, but too many continue drinking and driving.
At Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, we recognize the gravity of your plight and are well prepared to advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution skillfully. Your claim is important. Contact us online or call us at 864-280-7660 for more information today.
DUI Wrongful Death FAQs
How much do wrongful death attorneys charge?
Wrongful death attorneys recognize that clients like you are experiencing immense emotional and financial losses, and as a result, they work on contingency, which means their pay is based upon the compensation that claimants receive. If your claim settles or leads to a court award, a prearranged percentage will go to your wrongful death attorney.
Who files the wrongful death claim?
The executor of your lost loved one’s estate will file the wrongful death claim. If your loved one did not name an executor in their will or don’t have a will, the court will appoint someone to do the filing.
How long do I have to file my wrongful death case?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases refers to the amount of time that claimants have to file their lawsuits against the involved insurance company, and in South Carolina, the time limit is three years from the date that the decedent succumbed to their fatal injuries.