An innocent man died and a woman suffered serious injuries when their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver who ran a red light in Orangeburg, South Carolina (SC), on the night of November 18, 2017. Local police received the call about the two-car collision at Ellis Avenue and Boulevard Street at 10:40 pm. They found the at-fault driver smelling strongly of alcohol, unconscious and unresponsive. After being taken to the hospital for the treatment of minor injuries and blood alcohol tests, the driver started a physical fight with sheriff’s deputies.
According to crash scene investigators, the driver who they later charged with multiple drunk driving offenses ran a red light before striking the victims’ vehicle. It is unclear if he was conscious as he approached the intersection. The passenger in his car suffered injuries, and a woman in the struck vehicle required life-saving treatment for a lacerated kidney and other severe injuries.
The 23-year-old man behind the wheel of the other vehicle died after being taken to a hospital He was identified as a graduate of nearby Claflin University who had returned to Orangeburg for the school’s homecoming weekend.
The person who caused the deadly wreck at the intersection of Ellis and Boulevard faces preliminary charges of driving under the influence with great bodily injury and DUI causing death, For the purposes of the first charge, a great bodily injury is defined as one that “creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
The two women injured by the drunk driver should have storing grounds for filing personal injury insurance claims to recover medical expenses, wages lost from being unable to work while recovering and other money they have had to spend as a result of falling victim to the impaired driver. Likewise, the family of the man who lost his life could benefit from consulting with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney to learn about their legal options.
One possibility could be pursuing punitive damages. These are noncriminal fines that drivers who showed reckless disregard for other people’s safety and lives can be ordered to pay in addition to any compensation and other noneconomic damages owed to crash victims. Taking the wheel while you are so intoxicated that you pass out and run a red light could meet that legal standard. Speaking with a plaintiff’s attorney will help the grieving family understand if asking for punitive damages is warranted.