In August, a 66-year-old South Carolina orthopedic surgeon and survivor of the Boston marathon bombing was killed on Hilton Head in a bicycle accident by a hit-and-run driver. The Island Packet reported the physician was struck by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle eastbound on the right shoulder at around 6 p.m. The driver of that truck, later identified as a 64-year-old resident of the community, allegedly did not stop. Authorities later found him and arrested him on charges of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. Investigators believe the driver ran onto the shoulder and struck the doctor.
The defendant was released on $50,000 bond. But none of this apparently stopped him from once again getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while drunk, according to local news reports. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office reportedly responded to a report of a swerving vehicle on U.S. 278. A deputy initiated the stop shortly after 5 p.m. It was the same driver reportedly involved in the earlier fatal bicycle accident. He was once again arrested and charged with DUI. A state prosecutor has expressed his intention to request a revocation of bond from the judge. That would mean the decedent would remain in jail until trial.
The doctor leaves behind a wife, two children, and grandchildren. There is no word at this point whether his survivors have any plans to initiate civil claims against the driver. Should they choose to do so, they may have a few different options under South Carolina law.
It’s important to explore each of these options, since the allegedly negligent driver may not have the personal means to assist them in recovering any kind of meaningful compensation for this bicycle accident.
The first option, of course, is to pursue a claim against the defendant for negligence and wrongful death. If the defendant has auto insurance (which is not a given, despite the fact that it’s a legal requirement), the insurance company will be responsible for paying damages if its insured is found liable. However, in many cases, drivers either don’t have any insurance or lack enough insurance to cover the full cost of the damages.
In those instances, a victim’s own insurer may step in to provide coverage in the form of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. These claims still require a finding that the other driver was liable, so filing a claim against him may still be necessary. These damages do apply in cases in which the decedent/victim was on a bicycle and was struck by a motor vehicle.
The third option might be to explore dram shop liability. That won’t be an option in every situation, but in some cases, bars and restaurants can be liable when their customers drink at their establishments and then leave and cause a DUI-related crash that results in injuries or death to third parties. There is no actual “dram shop law” in South Carolina, as there is in North Carolina. However, courts in South Carolina do recognize an injured third party’s right to pursue a seller of alcohol for damages caused by the acts of an intoxicated adult patron. Specifically, if a permit holder, as defined in S.C. Code Ann. 61-4-580, knowingly sells alcohol to an intoxicated person, that establishment may be held liable for injuries that result if that impaired customer drives drunk.
If you or a loved one have been harmed in a drunk driving accident in North Carolina or South Carolina, we can help.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Man accused in death of bicyclist arrested again for DUI, Sept. 28, 2016, By Caitlin Turner, Island Packet
More Blog Entries:
North Carolina DOT Sets Goal of Halving Traffic Accident Deaths in 15 Years, Oct. 12, 2016, Rock Hill Accident Lawyer Blog