Despite years of public awareness campaigns by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, drunk drivers are still a leading cause of serious accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and deaths on our state roads and highways.
For most people, getting injured in a DUI accident is something they have never had to face before. The rules for recovering compensation from the insurance company are complicated. Here are the steps you should take to make sure you receive the just compensation you are entitled to.
Your first decisions are the most important
Immediately following the accident, you are likely to feel frustrated, as you face medical treatment, possibly the loss of wages while out of work, and figuring out how to get your life back in order without a car. It is no wonder the insurance company of the DUI driver will be quick to offer you a financial settlement. Most people are ready to move on with their lives. But it is important to step back and regroup. Hiring the right attorney is a critical first step.
The steps you should take, with guidance by an experienced lawyer
Get all the medical care you need: You may not want to go through the frustration of medical appointments, but getting medical complete medical attention and following the prescribed treatment plan is critical to your physical recovery, as well as your legal claim for full and fair financial compensation.
You will be able to seek damages for:
- All medical bills, emergency room costs, ongoing treatment
- Loss of wages and earnings when unable to work
- In a wrongful death claim, loss of companionship and financial contributions
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain and suffering
Don't expect a quick settlement
Your claim for damages will take time and for good reason. Your lawyer will not know the full extent of financial damages until your doctor has signed off on Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). For serious injuries, this can take months or more than a year. In most cases, your personal injury attorney will work with your medical provider to cover the ongoing cost of treatment. Your final medical bills will be paid out of your settlement or trial award if your case goes to court.
Throughout your case, follow your doctor's orders to the letter, including prescription medications and physical or occupational therapy sessions. Submit all reports, medical records, and bills to your attorney. Your lawyer will need to keep up with developments, including times you may miss an appointment, setbacks in your medical recovery, and new doctors and specialists you may be seeing. Do not leave your lawyer with any surprises.
Payment for punitive damages
Under South Carolina law, victims of drunk drivers have the right to seek punitive damages, as well. The goal of punitive damages is to serve as a costly deterrent against driving drunk in the future. Your lawyer will know the rules for helping you recover these damages. Be prepared for a serious investigation into whether your own actions behind the wheel may have contributed to the accident or the extent of injuries.
Too many DUI drivers don't carry insurance
One of the first things people often discover after suffering an injury in a DUI accident is that the drunk driver was also not responsible enough to carry car insurance. Fighting for monetary damages for medical bills lost earnings and pain and suffering may mean filing a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. No matter how long you have been paying premiums or how few times you may have filed a claim, you can expect your claim to be investigated and possibly reduced or denied. The right personal injury lawyer will have experience successfully handling UIM claims.
Why the Rick Hall Law Firm is your best choice
Rick Hall has almost 35 years of experience in representing victims of DUI accidents and in handling the negotiations of settlements with insurance companies. You should act quickly, however, because evidence can get lost and each case must be investigated carefully.