South Carolina does not go easy on drunk drivers. This was the message strongly sent recently when the state sentenced a 19-year-old driver to a 25-year prison term after the teen pled guilty to two felony charges of driving under the influence resulting in the death of two individuals. The two counts stem from the events of one night this spring when the teen crossed the center lane of a Cherokee County highway and hit an oncoming vehicle, killing the driver and one passenger, and critically injuring two others. Alcohol was not the only factor, as, in addition to half a pint of rum and 32 – 48 ounces of beer, the driver admitted to being under the influence of the horse tranquilizer klonopin, marijuana, and mushrooms as well. Unsurprisingly, the two survivors asked the judge presiding over the case to dole out the maximum prison sentence to the teen driver. Besides the punishment delivered by the criminal justice system, the family of those killed and critically injured in the accident may have wrongful death and personal injury claims against the teen driver.
Injuries Caused By A Drunk Driver Are A Basis For Auto Accident Claims
Every single person who gets behind the wheel of a car or truck and enters South Carolina’s streets and highways is under a legal duty to obey the rules and regulations of the road. Obviously, part of this duty is to refrain from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving under the influence is met with such condemnation in the eyes of the law that it will result in criminal penalties even in the absence of damages to persons or property. When drinking and driving results in injuries, fatalities, or property damage, the penalties are even more severe. This is only logical, as victims may be faced with past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, and even mental anguish as a result of an intoxicated driver’s deliberate recklessness. For South Carolinians in this unfortunate position, an experienced personal injury attorney will be invaluable in working to obtain the maximum compensation for these damages.
Fatalities Caused By A Drunk Driver Are A Basis For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The worst part of drunk driving is that this selfish act all-too-often claims innocent people’s lives. When this tragedy happens, South Carolina law allows certain loved ones of an accident victim to bring a wrongful death claim. These claims are available where a person’s death was the result of the neglect, misconduct or wrongful act of another person or entity. Returning to the case of the Spartanburg teen, it seems that clear his decision to drive under the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana, mushrooms, and tranquilizers wrongfully caused the deaths of two persons. As such, the family members of these victims may be able to recover damages for medical treatment expenses for the deceased, funeral and burial costs, pain and suffering, loss of support and services, as well as punitive damages if the defendant is found to have been reckless or malicious in causing the deaths. In bringing a wrongful death claim to recover such damages and compensation for loss, the services of a dedicated and sympathetic South Carolina wrongful death lawyer will prove invaluable.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.