As the largest city in Horry County and the second-fastest growing metro area in the nation, Myrtle Beach has seen as many as 120,000 new residents over the last 10 years. With all this growth, the number of bars and liquor stores (more than 2,000) has skyrocketed. In fact, Myrtle Beach has more bars and liquor stores per capita than any other town in our state and has been called the “drunkest city” in South Carolina. Combine these factors, and you see how DUI accidents have become an increasingly dangerous problem for Myrtle Beach.
Our goal as South Carolina injury attorneys is to protect the rights of innocent people—especially those injured by drunk drivers—in Myrtle Beach and along the entire Grand Strand. For more information about your legal rights after being injured in a DUI accident, contact us today by calling (843) 427-2800 or by starting a live chat using the box below.
In the below article, I explain:
- Various Types of Drunk Driving Accidents in Myrtle Beach
- Steps You Should Consider After a DUI Crash
- How a Civil DUI Accident Case Works and What to Expect from Our Team, including:
- Building an Even Stronger Case
- Negotiating with the Insurance Companies
- Monitoring the Criminal Prosecution
- What to Do If You Were Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Drunk Driver
Drunk Drivers Are a Frequent Cause of Car Crashes in Myrtle Beach
When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel in Myrtle Beach, they frequently cause serious car accidents by:
- Driving erratically - Impaired drivers often weave across lanes, make unexpected maneuvers or turns, or fail to yield the right of way.
- Driving with their lights off - Not only will the intoxicated driver have reduced visibility without headlights, other drivers may not see the car until it is too late.
- Falling asleep at the wheel - An intoxicated driver may pass out, causing a potentially fatal accident for anybody on or around the roadway.
- Failing to respond to other cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians - Decreased reaction time and awareness results in drunk drivers not seeing or reacting to other people until it is too late.
- Rear-ending other vehicles - The delayed reflexes and poor spatial judgment caused by alcohol can cause violent rear-end collisions when drivers fail to stop.
- Ignoring stop signs or running red lights – These high speed accidents can cause catastrophic injuries—and even death.
- Driving in the opposite direction of travel and causing wrong-way accidents - Many of the worst accidents involve two cars colliding at full speed in a wrong-way crash.
Steps You Should Consider After a DUI Car Wreck in South Carolina
Immediately after a crash, the first priority is of course health and safety. Once the police arrive, they get the insurance and contact information for the other driver and provide you with an FR-10 Insurance Verification form, which must be completed and returned to the DMV within 15 days of the accident. Make a copy for your records. Once you are stable medically, you want to make sure all your legal rights are protected. To guard yourself against insurance tricks or evidence disappearing, we suggest you do the following:
1. Contact a DUI accident attorney
Find an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible and schedule a consultation to determine if you’ll need legal representation. Because of the consequences inflicted by drunk driving wrecks, as well as complicated “dram shop” laws, it makes sense to at least speak with a lawyer before pursuing any action on your own.
2. Contact your insurance company
Regardless of whether you ever have to pursue compensation from your own insurance carrier, you still need to notify them of the accident. Nonetheless, be cautious when speaking with them, as their goal often becomes paying you as little as possible the moment they learn of your collision. One advantage of hiring an attorney is avoiding the missteps that can come with recorded statements and insurance adjuster traps.
3. Refer all insurance questions and requests to your lawyer
The other driver’s insurance company is going to call you within a few days of the crash. You do not need to speak to them. Instead, you can politely refer them to your attorney for any questions and end the call.
Remember, the other driver’s insurance company is not working on your behalf. Insurance companies do not make money when they pay out claims, so the insurance adjuster may attempt to minimize your settlement amount as much as possible, or even deny it outright. So before you provide them with a statement or sign any medical forms or releases, we recommend you consult an attorney.
How a Civil DUI Accident Case Works and What to Expect from Our Team
When we represent the victim of a DUI wreck, one of our first priorities is to track down answers to the following questions:
- Who sold the driver alcohol?
- Where was the driver drinking?
- Who was he drinking with?
- How much alcohol did he consume?
All this information goes toward proving their degree of intoxication, in addition to whether they were served by a bar or restaurant who should have been on notice of their intoxication. If the impaired driver was overserved at an establishment in South Carolina, we may be able to hold the business accountable for violating South Carolina’s dram shop (i.e. alcohol service) laws.
During our investigation, we typically work with independent investigators to track down witnesses, video evidence, and any receipts. We may also hire a forensic toxicologist and alcohol service expert to strengthen our case against the overserving bar/restaurant.
Forensic toxicologists analyze the drunk driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and provide insight on how alcohol impairs a person physically and mentally. This information helps us prove that the server or bartender should have known their customer was unsafe to drive after being overserved.
An alcohol service expert is well-versed in the rules that bartenders must follow when serving the public. In South Carolina it really boils down to two laws: 1. You can’t serve alcohol to someone that is underage; and 2. You can’t serve alcohol to someone you know or should know is intoxicated. If a bartender breaks one of those laws, the establishment can be held accountable for any harm the impaired person causes.
Building an Even Stronger Case
Once we’ve established who is responsible for your injuries, our team works to ensure all damages are identified. The people who caused the harm, as well as their insurance companies, need to know every way in which your life has been impacted. Often times, that starts with your medical doctors and experts who can explain in detail not only the care you have received, but what you may require medically in the future.
Treating doctors, and if necessary medical experts, describe any procedures you were forced to endure after the wreck. We frequently use medical animations that demonstrate your exact injuries and the treatment you underwent as a result of the crash.
Additionally, we work with experts known as lifecare planners to establish what medical care you are more likely than not going to need over your lifetime as a result of the DUI accident. Lifecare planners and economists then address the cost of that ongoing or future care. In South Carolina, negligent parties are responsible for all damages, past and future, so the cost of future medical treatment must be considered when analyzing settlement or verdict value.
Negotiating with the Insurance Companies
By working to identify all responsible people and entities, then thoroughly addressing the full extent of your harm, we are in a position of strength once it’s time to negotiate. In fact, throughout the entirety of the case, we remain in contact with adjusters and their lawyers to guarantee they understand what they are facing. We want them to know about your medical care, any physical and emotional pain you’ve experienced, the wages you may have lost, and the overall effect the drunk driving wreck has exerted on your life.
If we are unable to reach a fair settlement, my team and I will take your case to trial and allow a jury to determine a just amount. In my experience, South Carolinians – and people in Myrtle Beach specifically – do not tolerate drunk driving. The people of this community believe that all responsible parties should be punished for the harm they cause and the danger they create along the Grand Strand.
Monitoring the Criminal Prosecution
After being hit by a drunk driver, most injured people and their families want to make sure the person is held criminally responsible. While our personal injury lawyers do not handle the criminal side of the case, we do our best to make sure the criminal case is fully prosecuted by staying in frequent contact with the Solicitor’s Office and victim’s advocate.
Not only do we keep the Solicitor updated on all our new discoveries, but we also want to make sure they keep us aware of any findings on their part. Any time new evidence is found on our side or theirs, our relationship with the Solicitor’s Office allows us to make certain everyone is kept in the loop. You should have a meaningful opportunity to be heard at bond and sentencing hearings if you choose.
Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Drunk Driver?
Drunk driving wrecks often leave innocent people burdened with thousands of dollars in medical bills. To make matters worse, intoxicated drivers may not have much, if any, insurance coverage. Even though South Carolina law requires drivers to carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage, that figure can be quickly exceeded by medical expenses alone. When an uninsured or underinsured DUI driver hits you, there may be a case against the bar that over served them. Additionally, your own insurance policy may be a source of recovery.
Using Uninsured Insurance After a Drunk Driving Accident
Nearly 1 in 10 people in South Carolina do not have auto insurance. The good news is that uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is included in all South Carolina insurance policies, and it helps to protect you against reckless drivers that don't have insurance.
When you hire an injury firm like ours, we communicate directly with your insurance carrier to ensure they properly honor their agreement to protect you. You have paid premiums, and in return they have agreed to pay your damages in the event of an accident. Our job is to make sure they keep their promise. Many people have concerns over the effect it could have on their insurance premium, but the truth is, an insurance claim arising from a wreck with an uninsured drunk driver will save you far more money than filing no claim at all.
What If the DUI Driver is Insured but Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Cover My Medical Bills?
Because DUI accidents cause such serious injuries, the driver may not have enough insurance coverage to pay all the costs associated with the wreck, especially if they only have minimum limits. That’s when you may need to rely on underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
If you have UIM coverage, we can file a claim with your insurance provider. For example, if you were hit by a drunk driver and have $50,000 in medical bills, but the driver only has a minimum limits insurance policy ($25,000 in South Carolina), your underinsured coverage should kick in to help fully cover your damages.
If you don’t have a UIM policy, it’s important to know that in South Carolina, insurance providers are required to ask if you would like to purchase UIM. If they cannot prove they made a meaningful offer to you, they may be on the hook to help cover your damages after a wreck with an underinsured drunk driver.
Filing an Insurance Claim Against All Responsible Parties
All too often, especially in Myrtle Beach, the drunk driver is not the only person or party responsible for the accident. As a reminder, under South Carolina’s dram shop laws, the bar or restaurant that overserved the person can also be held responsible, which means we can file a claim against their alcohol liability policy. These dram shop actions against establishments that profit from the sale of alcohol can be the difference between a full or minimal financial recovery for DUI accident victims.
Call a Myrtle Beach DUI Accident Lawyer Today
It is long overdue that drunk driving in South Carolina becomes a thing of the past. The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger are here to help you and your family begin the process of holding the lawbreakers civilly and financially responsible. Only through accountability will we be able to make a difference, and hopefully spare other people in Myrtle Beach and beyond from the harm inflicted by intoxicated driving.
Our experienced accident lawyers are conveniently located in Myrtle Beach. However, given the nature of the injuries caused by drunk driving collisions, we frequently meet clients at their homes or healthcare centers. Our law firm prides itself on treating clients like family, and that begins with the first meeting. To arrange a free consultation with us, call us by phone at 843-427-2800, use our online contact form, or click the live chat box on this page.