A new study from researchers at Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health shows that one in three teens and young adults admits to riding with impaired drivers. See ABC report here.
As reported, the research was based on surveys provided by over 2,000 teens and young adults. Among the many questions the surveys asked about whether the respondent had, in the previous year, been a passenger in a car when the driver was drinking alcohol or using marijuana and/or on illegal drugs like ecstasy or cocaine. The surveys showed that one in three teens/young adults admitted to being a passenger of such an impaired driver at least once in the previous year. The report breaks it down further:
- 23 percent of the drivers were marijuana-impaired
- 20 percent were alcohol-impaired
- 6 percent were illicit drug-impaired
This is bad news for both the drivers and their passengers. According to the researchers, teen drivers are 17 times more likely than adults to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. See here.
If you are injured while in your own car by an impaired teen/young adult driver, you are entitled to sue and recover money damages for your injuries. If you are injured as a passenger, you are also entitled to sue. However, if you knew the driver was impaired, there may be issues regarding comparative negligence. Here is some further information.
Impaired Drivers and Personal Injury Law in South Carolina
If you have been injured in a wreck caused by a drunk or drug-impaired driver, you can sue under the legal theory of negligence. To win your case, you must prove four elements: duty, breach, causation and injury. Under South Carolina law, every driver has certain duties required by statute. See S.C. Code § 56-5-1210, et seq. Among those duties are the duty not to drive while impaired. Furthermore, South Carolina law makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. See S.C. Code §§ 56-5-2930 and -2933 (link above). If the teen/young adult driver was impaired, then he or she has breached his or her duties under the law and it is likely that he or she will be held liable.
Comparative Negligence in South Carolina
Since many of the teens and young adults in the survey admitted to KNOWING they were a passenger with an impaired driver, issues of comparative fault and comparative negligence might arise. South Carolina follows what is generally termed a modified comparative negligence regime.
Under this legal doctrine, fault is apportioned among the various possible individuals who might be at fault. As long as the injured plaintiff 50 percent at fault or less, then the plaintiff can still recover. The money damages recovered will be reduced by the amount of the plaintiff’s fault. Thus, for example, if the victim was — say — 25 percent at fault, then his/her recovery amount is reduced by 25 percent. For the comparative fault statute, see S.C. Code § 15-38-15.
If you are the passenger of driver you knew as impaired, it is likely that some amount of fault will be assessed against you. If you know the driver is drunk or high, you should not get in the car with them. But, at the same time, the driver is also at fault, so you may still be able to recover.
Call a Greenville SC Auto Accident Attorney Today
If you are injured in a collision or wreck as a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was impaired on drugs or alcohol, call the experienced auto accident attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. We know South Carolina law and we can offer advice and counsel. Call us immediately since there are time deadlines and it is important to preserve evidence. We will fight aggressively to make sure you are properly and fully compensated. Contact our office today via email for a consultation.
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.