Unless you are subpoenaed, you are not required to be in court during the adverse driver’s hearing or trial. However, you should cooperate with the solicitor’s office. They are the prosecutors. Your cooperation may help with the conviction of the drunk driver for the criminal portion of the case.
Your civil car accident case for damages against the defendant is a separate case, and you have the right to pursue a settlement from the drunk driver’s auto insurance company or the driver himself. Consult a South Carolina car accident lawyer to learn more.
How You Can Avoid Trial
After the trauma of your drunk driving accident, going to trial may be the last thing you want to do. There are several ways you may be able to demand justice without ever having to step foot inside a courtroom.
First, you may be able to avoid going to court if the drunk driver is charged criminally. Although the district attorney’s case will be stronger with you as a witness, they may be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt using forensics and other valuable evidence.
Another way you can avoid going to trial after being hit by a drunk driver is by filing a claim with the insurance company. Since South Carolina follows fault insurance laws, if the drunk driver has insurance coverage, you could file a claim against their auto insurance policy. However, unless the insurance company is willing to compensate you for every single loss, you still may need to pursue a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver or other at-fault parties.
Your Car Accident Attorney Can Advocate for You
One of the top benefits of having an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer working on your case is the ability to avoid going to trial. Even if settling with the insurance company is not enough to meet your needs, that does not necessarily mean you have to go to court.
Instead, your car accident attorney can appear before the judge and jury on your behalf. You may be able to sit in on a video conference or provide your testimony virtually if your injuries prevent you from being able to come to the courthouse. If the emotional trauma of the accident is too much, your lawyer can advocate for your rights without you ever having to leave the comfort of your home or hospital room.
When to File a Lawsuit After a Drunk Driving Accident
Although you may have hoped to avoid going to trial, the reality is that filing a personal injury case in court is often the best way to ensure drunk drivers and other liable parties are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. If you go to court to testify as a witness in a criminal drunk driving case, there is usually a better chance that the jury will return a guilty verdict.
Even if you file a claim with the insurance company, it may not be enough to cover your damages in full. Furthermore, the insurance company is likely to fight back to reduce their profit loss.
It is almost always in your best interests to file a civil claim against irresponsible drunk drivers. This way, you can increase your chances of being compensated for every single way you have been affected by the accident and your resulting injuries.
Common Damages Covered by Insurance
When you are hit by a drunk driver, one of the most common ways to recover compensation is by seeking an insurance settlement. As previously mentioned, South Carolina follows fault laws for car accidents, so the liable party’s insurance policy should be a source of compensation. However, if the driver that hit you was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the insurance company may push back when you file your claim.
Even if the liable party has purchased auto insurance coverage as required by South Carolina law, that does not mean the insurance company is going to pay out on your claim without a fight.
Despite the fact that insurance coverage is designed to compensate you for your vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and perhaps a portion of your lost income, if the driver who hit you was drunk, the insurance company may argue the drunk driver’s policy is negated. If this is the case, and the insurance company’s arguments are successful, recovering compensation through your insurance claim may not be possible.
Damages You Can Recover Through a Car Accident Lawsuit
Although insurance can be a good source of compensation for your damages, it rarely, if ever, reimburses car accident victims for every loss. When your life has been turned upside down by a drunk driver, the last thing you should have to deal with is being taken advantage of by money-hungry insurance companies.
Thankfully, the South Carolina civil courts offer you the right to be made whole. This means your award at trial should reimburse you for every way you have been impacted by the drunk driving accident. Some examples of damages you could recover in court include:
- The diminished value of your vehicle
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of employee benefits, future potential earnings, and wages
- Medical bills, healthcare devices, and medical equipment
- Loss of consortium
- Embarrassing disfigurement and skin scarring
- Rental car expenses or rideshare service costs
It is also possible the court system could award you punitive damages. We see this more often in cases where drunk drivers are habitual offenders or victims suffer severe bodily injury or death.
Connect with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
You do not always have to go to court when you are struck by a drunk driver. However, going to trial often makes criminal and civil cases more powerful. If you decide not to go to court, the amount of compensation you can recover for your damages may be limited.
However, it is not impossible to receive fair compensation without going to trial. Discuss your options further when you connect with an experienced car accident lawyer at Shelly Leeke Law Firm. Fill out our online contact form or call us to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.