There is an extra layer of involvement in the legal process by a person who is involved in an accident with a drunk driver and that will particularly play out if the drunk driver does not plead guilty to the charge or to a lesser charge in some cases and there is a trial. If there is a criminal trial, the victim or the plaintiff in the civil case will play a fairly major role at the criminal trial.
Conceivably, a victim of a drunk driver in an automobile accident could potentially testify in two separate cases, one in the criminal trial and one in the civil trial if that is not settled. However, insurance companies are usually eager to settle a drunk driving case and are less likely to push it to trial. When considering the various dynamics in a civil or criminal drunk driving case in Charleston, a skilled auto accident attorney‘s help will be essential.
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
It is not the decision of the injured driver whether or not to press charges in a criminal case, it is the state of South Carolina versus the drunk driver and not the injured party. In a criminal case, the injured party is simply a witness, in addition to being a victim, and the decision of whether to bring charges, whether to a criminal trial, whether to negotiate a criminal plea is solely within the discretion of the solicitor in South Carolina. In other states, solicitors are called DAs or district attorneys.
It is the solicitor’s sole discretion on how they wish to handle and whether to try a drunk driving case, as with all criminal cases. More often than not, the solicitor will give more to the victim’s preferences.
Injury and DUI Cases
Injury cases and DUI cases tend to be woven together when dealing with the complicated dynamics of Charleston drunk driving cases. In the civil context, civil lawsuits, the injury case, and the DUI case are intertwined and inseparable, and therefore the DUI charge is part of the injury case and the injury case is part of the DUI. There would not be any separate proceedings regarding that.
With respect to the criminal side, the DUI with great bodily injury is a separate charge and so if there is a serious injury in a DUI on the criminal side, the charges can be increased to driving under the influence with serious injury. The penalties can increase their likelihood of going to jail over and beyond the one night in jail after the arrest goes up incrementally.
In any automobile accident, there is a potential for both drivers to be assigned some percentage of negligence in causing the wreck. When negotiating a drunk driving accident in Charleston settlement, often, it is the job of the adjuster and the lawyer to find some middle ground on how to assign that. If they cannot agree, then they will try the case and a jury will decide the percentages of negligence in causing an automobile accident.
In, South Carolina, there is comparative negligence, and a plaintiff injured driver can be up to 50% responsible in causing their own injuries and still make a recovery. For example, if a person is injured and the damages, for purposes of this discussion, is an even $10,000 and the plaintiff was 50% at fault causing their own injuries, then the $10,000 in damages will be reduced to $5,000 (50%). If a driver is deemed to be 51% or more in causing an automobile accident, then that driver will get zero damages. A skilled attorney can help keep these important dynamics of Charleston drunk driving accidents in consideration while their client focuses on their recovery following an accident.