Can Parents Be Held Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Their Teenage Child?

Learning to drive is practically a rite of passage for teenagers, but it also presents risks for those on the road around them. In some cases, negligent teenage drivers can cause serious injuries, property damage, and even death. This raises the question: who is financially responsible for the damage caused by teenage drivers?

Learn more about what state law says about this question. If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash caused by a teenage driver, call Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370 to schedule a consultation.

Parental Responsibility in South Carolina

South Carolina is one of many states that does hold parents responsible for the damage caused by their minor child in a car accident. This gives accident survivors and surviving family members a way to recoup some of the loss experienced in a crash. Victims can recover in a civil suit if the child lives with their parents and the minor’s actions were done in an intentional or malicious manner.

In most situations, a parent’s financial responsibility for their minor’s actions only extends to a maximum of $5,000. The minor can be held liable for the rest. This is often a dead end for victims, as minors are unlikely to have the assets needed to pay for excess damage.

Damage in Excess of $5,000

While a parent’s liability typically ends after the first $5,000 in damage, there are circumstances in which their liability goes beyond that. If the parents did something that could foreseeably lead to the accident, the parents may be held liable for damages beyond the initial $5,000. Under South Carolina’s family purpose doctrine, the head of a household who owns a vehicle for the use of the family is liable for negligence on the part of a family member who has permission to use the vehicle.

Insurance Coverage

The good news is that it often doesn’t come down to whether a victim can seek $5,000 or go for more directly from the parents. In most car accidents, the vehicle owner has insurance to cover the damage caused by covered drivers. Most parents include their minor children on their policy to avoid lawsuits and personal liability for damage. If a minor driver causes an accident with damages that are below the policy limits of the parent’s insurance policy, neither the driver nor the parent will have to pay out-of-pocket for the expenses incurred. The victim can recover compensation directly from the insurance company.

When Insurance Coverage is Not Enough

In most situations, the parent’s car insurance is enough to cover the losses suffered by the accident victim. This isn’t always the case, particularly if the parent has the bare minimum allowed under state and federal law. When this happens, the law goes back to the family purpose doctrine. If damage exceeds policy limits, the minor and their parents will be held liable for any damages that are not compensated by the insurance company.

Why You Need an Attorney

As you can see, car accidents involving teenage drivers can become complicated very quickly. Parents may try to avoid bringing insurance into the equation, as they know that their teen driver’s rates are likely to skyrocket if they report an accident. However, you need to do what is best for you, not what is best for the liable driver. That’s where a personal injury attorney can help.

Your attorney can investigate the crash, learn more about the other driver’s actions leading up to the crash, and create a strong link between your injuries and the other driver’s actions. From there, they can fight for full and fair compensation from the other party’s insurance company. They do this to ensure that you aren’t left suffering the financial consequences of someone else’s unsafe or negligent driving. If your main goal is a fair settlement, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

Discuss Your Case with Peake & Fowler

If you have been hurt in a car accident, it’s important to retain a trusted personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Insurance companies will do everything they can to keep you from getting the compensation you deserve. The team at Peake & Fowler is here to advocate for you and fight for full and fair compensation. Schedule a consultation now by connecting with us online or calling us at 803-788-4370.

What Happens If You Are Involved in a Crash with a Company Vehicle?

Car accidents are always stressful but being in a company vehicle takes the stress to an entirely new level. Not only do you have to worry about the injuries you may have suffered; you also have to wonder if you’ll be liable for the damage caused and if your job will be affected.

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and learn more about your options. To discuss your legal options after a collision in a company vehicle, call Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370.

It All Depends on Liability

Everything comes down to who is liable for the accident. This is determined in a number of ways. First, the police report for the accident should contain information about any citations given out at the scene of the accident. This may point to wrongdoing by one or both parties.

From there, both insurance companies do their own investigations to see who they think is liable for the collision. Your company may ask for evidence to help their insurance company make an informed decision.

You should be ready to tell them your account of events, what led up to the crash, what injuries you have suffered, and any other relevant information. You may also have to provide medical bills or records.

If You Are Liable

If it comes out that you caused the accident, everything will go through your company’s insurance. They will likely negotiate the terms of a settlement with the injured party directly, accounting for property damage, medical bills, and other expenses. While you may find out how it all ends from your company, many companies prefer to keep this information private.

When people find out that they are liable for an accident in a company vehicle, they often panic about what this means for their own finances. However, this is not something you should worry about. The employer’s insurance company will handle everything, just as your personal insurance company would if you caused an accident.

If the Other Driver is Liable

Everything can feel a little complicated if the other driver is liable for the accident. First, note that you may receive workers’ compensation if you were injured in a company vehicle. This is standard. However, if the other party was liable, you may also have a personal injury claim against them. You should consult an attorney and discuss your options.

If you do pursue a personal injury claim, know that everything paid to you by workers’ compensation will likely be paid back to them from your settlement. You cannot get paid twice for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs.

Many people think they can negotiate a fair settlement on their own in this type of situation. Please don’t make this mistake. The other driver’s insurance company has a vested interest in minimizing or denying your payment. Anything you tell them, no matter how truthful, can be used to lower your settlement offer. Speak with an attorney before having any contact with the other party’s insurance company.

How Your Job May Be Affected

While your company cannot force you to pay the expenses of an accident you caused, causing an accident can have an impact on your career. Much depends on the protocols of your company and how much leeway they give employees.

Some companies take these matters very seriously and terminate employees for causing a crash in a company vehicle. However, most companies are more understanding and don’t penalize employees unless they cause multiple crashes.

Of course, it’s a bit different if you could have avoided the accident. If you fell asleep behind the wheel or were chemically impaired at the time of the accident, for example, that may be a sign of poor judgment that your company considers a red flag. In these situations, you should be prepared to deal with severe consequences.

The Team at Peake & Fowler is Here for You

Figuring out what to do after a car crash in a company vehicle is difficult, but we are here to help. If you suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Find out your legal rights and options by scheduling a consultation with us now. Call us at 803-788-4370 or reach out online to get started.

Delayed Injuries from a Car Accident

Some injuries are immediately apparent. Broken bones and large abrasions are generally easy enough to identify and treat promptly. However, you also have to watch out for injuries that take longer to show up. Delayed symptoms may be indicative of serious and even life-threatening injuries, which is why it is so crucial to seek medical care after an accident.

If you have been injured in a car accident, don’t go through this alone. Turn to the team at Peake & Fowler for strong legal guidance. Call us at 803-788-4370 to schedule a consultation now.

Headache

A headache is normal after a car accident. After all, you’ve been through serious trauma and even without a traumatic brain injury you may experience a headache. It’s important, though, to pay attention to the severity and progress of the headache. If it worsens over time, isn’t touched by ibuprofen or other pain meds, or gets so bad that it causes nausea or vomiting, you need to get it checked out by a medical professional. You may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

Back and Neck Pain

Back and neck pain are common symptoms after an accident. When you brace for impact, your neck and back absorb most of the impact. But don’t write off back and neck pain; these symptoms are often indicative of injuries that require additional medical care. Again, look for pain that does not go away with ibuprofen or aspirin. Look for pain that is so intense that it keeps you from focusing on anything else, or pain that increases in severity over time. It could be indicative of spinal cord damage, spine injuries, or soft tissue damage.

Delayed Bruising

Deep bruises that appear days after your accident could be serious. Of course, bruising to some degree is normal after a crash. What you need to look out for is deep bruising around the abdomen. This could be indicative of soft tissue damage or internal bleeding. These injuries can be fatal if untreated, so get any bruising checked out immediately. It’s likely that it’s just normal bruising, but you have no way of knowing unless you get it checked out by a medical professional.

Numbness or Tingling

In the hours and days that pass after your accident, you may notice some changes in your extremities. If you find yourself constantly wiggling your fingers or toes to keep them awake and prevent the unpleasant tingling feeling, you should take note of that symptom and get checked out by a doctor. Car accidents can cause major damage to every part of your body, and in some cases, they result in pinched nerves. If you find yourself with more and more numbness or tingling as time passes, get to a doctor right away. The longer nerve damage is untreated, the less likely it is to be repairable.

Sudden Changes in Mood and Behavior

This is perhaps the most important symptom to watch out for in the wake of a car accident. Traumatic brain injuries range in severity and outcome, from minor concussions that heal without intervention to lifelong TBIs that keep you from living independently. The issue is that brain injuries are extremely diverse. The symptoms all depend on which part of the brain is impacted.

However, one symptom that often arises in people with moderate or severe brain injuries is a change in behavior or mood. This may indicate damage to the part of the brain that handles emotional regulation and decision-making. Look for sudden angry outbursts, unexpected crying spells, irrational decisions, and intense mood swings. You may also want to watch for memory loss or repeated questions. Similar symptoms include difficulty speaking or finding the right word for each sentence, intense sleepiness or fatigue, sudden depression, and difficulty with verbal or written communication.

Contact Peake & Fowler for Help with Your Personal Injury Claim

A car accident can change your life forever, and you need prompt medical care and legal assistance to help you find your new normal. That’s where our team shines. At Peake & Fowler, we fight for every client to get the full and fair compensation they deserve. To learn more and take the next step in your personal injury claim, call us at 803-788-4370 or get in touch with us online.

Who is Liable for a Merging Accident?

Merging into the flow of traffic can be one of the most stressful driving maneuvers that a motorist has to make. Whether you are attempting to merge onto a highway with vehicles coming at you at full speed or you are looking for an open spot in the middle of a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, traffic merges can often be tricky situations.

When two or more vehicles are merging into traffic and a crash occurs, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. It could be the merging driver, or it could be a driver whose car is already in the flow of traffic, or partial fault could be assigned to more than one driver.

As with every type of auto accident, determining liability always depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If you or someone close to you got injured in a merging accident, it is always best to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible, so you can ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

Assessing Liability in Merging Accidents

Crashes that involve merging vehicles may be caused by a number of different factors, among the most common include:

  • A vehicle that is speeding or moving too slowly as they merge into traffic.
  • A vehicle that hesitates while trying to merge into traffic.
  • A vehicle that changes lanes without using a turn signal.
  • A vehicle that crosses over multiple lanes while merging.
  • A vehicle that cuts off another vehicle in order to merge or change lanes.
  • A driver that fails to look for other cars before merging into traffic.

Oftentimes, fault for an accident will fall on the merging driver because they are supposed to yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are already in traffic. But this is just a general rule, and there are a number of possible exceptions.

Here are some examples of cases when a merging accident may not be the fault of the driver who is trying to merge into traffic:

  • The merging vehicle collides with a vehicle that is exceeding the speed limit and therefore is in violation of a traffic law.
  • As the merging vehicle turns into traffic, another vehicle turns from an inner lane into the outside lane without using their turn signal.
  • While the driver of a vehicle that is in an inner lane is sending a text message, their car weaves into the outer (merging) lane and crashes into the merging vehicle.

In some cases, two different vehicle drivers could be at fault for a merging accident. For example, if one vehicle is merging into the outer lane while another vehicle is simultaneously turning from the inner lane into the outer (merging) lane, then they might both be partially at fault for not exercising reasonable caution in looking out for other vehicles in their lane.

Merging Accidents and Comparative Negligence Laws

If someone is injured in an auto accident in South Carolina and they are partially at fault, they may still be able to recover compensation under the state’s modified comparative negligence standard. To be eligible, however, the fault of the plaintiff must not exceed the fault of the defendant. So, if both drivers are determined to be 50% at fault for the accident, then an injured party can still file a claim for damages. But if an injured individual is 51% or more at fault, then they are barred from recovering compensation.

It is also important to note that, although you can recover damages even when you are partially at fault for an accident, any damage award you receive would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share in the accident. For example, if you were 50% at fault for a merging accident and you sustained a total of $100,000 in losses, your damages would be reduced down to $50,000.

Injured in a Merging Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Legal Help

If you or a loved got hurt in any type of vehicle accident in South Carolina, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to get you the compensation you deserve. At Peake and Fowler, we have extensive experience with these types of cases, and we work closely with our clients to help ensure a favorable outcome.

To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370. We look forward to serving you!

Who is At Fault for a Multi-Car Accident?

Multi-vehicle crashes can be catastrophic events. When there are several cars involved in an accident, the damage to vehicles is extensive, and there is the potential for severe and often fatal injuries. With so many different drivers involved, multi-car accident cases tend to be far more complicated than a typical two vehicle collision, and it can be difficult to determine who might be at fault.

Every case is different, and there are always unique factors that need to be looked at in order to determine liability a multi-car accident. In some cases, there will be more than one driver at fault, and blame might also be assigned to outside parties who were not directly involved in the collision.

Liability for a Multi-Car Crash

With three or more vehicles involved in an accident, determining fault will come down to finding out who caused the crash to start. Here are a couple of scenarios to help illustrate how these cases will be looked at:

One of the more common types of multi-vehicle crashes is referred to as a “chain reaction” accident. This is a series of rear-end collisions that produce a domino effect in which the impact of each crash causes the car to crash into the vehicle in front of them. With a case like this, the first assumption is likely to be that the driver of the car that started the chain reaction is the one at fault. But others could share the blame as well, for example, if the driver that was rear-ended was texting on their phone at the time of the crash.

Another possible scenario is when a semi-truck jackknifes on the highway, blocking several lanes of traffic and causing a multi-car pileup. The first thought would be that the truck driver did something wrong – maybe he/she was speeding or driving faster than it was safe to under the current conditions. But upon further investigation, it might turn out that the truck jackknifed because it was unevenly loaded, or because a defective tire blew out – and in either case, this could be at least partially the fault of a third party.

Some of the factors that are examined in a multi-car crash include:

  • Whether or not any of the drivers was speeding at the time the crash.
  • Whether any of the drivers were tailgating or following the vehicle in front of them too closely.
  • Whether any of the vehicles had brake lights or taillights that were not functioning.
  • Whether any of the drivers were texting or engaged in any other type of distracted driving at the time the crash.
  • Whether any of the drivers were intoxicated when the crash occurred.
  • Whether there was proper road signage to indicate a sudden traffic slow down or stop.
  • Whether there was any debris or objects that may have helped trigger the crash.

Comparative Fault in South Carolina Multi-Vehicle Accidents

If more than one party is at fault for a multi-car crash in South Carolina, an injured party could still recover compensation as long as they are found to be no more than 50% liable for the accident. If they are partially responsible, however, their compensatory damages would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share. For example, if your total losses equaled $150,000 and you are found to be 30% at fault, your damage award would be reduced by $45,000.

Another issue that often comes up in multi-vehicle accidents is the potential for the combined losses of all the injured individuals to exceed vehicle insurance policy limits. If there are other parties that could be held liable – such as a truck driver’s employer or a defective product maker – this could provide other ways to recover full compensation, but these avenues are not available in all cases.

Whatever the unique circumstances of your case, it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident. Memories fade over time, and critical evidence has a tendency to disappear. The sooner you retain strong legal counsel, the better your chances of recovering full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Injured in a Multi-Car Crash in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Legal Help

If you or a loved got hurt in a vehicle accident in South Carolina, Peake and Fowler is ready to go to work for you. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-788-4370 or send us an online message.

Liability for Ridesharing Accidents in South Carolina: What you Need to Know

Ridesharing is becoming increasingly popular, especially in larger cities like Columbia and Charleston. Instead of taking taxi cabs, more and more people summon a ride through companies like Uber and Lyft using an app on their smart phone. This is a very convenient way to travel, but there are some risks involved as well.

For one thing, Uber and Lyft drivers work on their own with very little interaction with these companies, and for this reason, they are often not be as well-vetted as a typical employee or contractor. Another common issue is liability insurance in the event of an accident with injuries. This area is very confusing, because there are several scenarios under which an accident might occur, and the available insurance coverage will be different with each one.

Liability for South Carolina Rideshare Accidents

In order for someone to drive for Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing company, they are required to have their own auto insurance. The problem is that most drivers are not covered through their private insurance policies when they are driving for pay. And in fact, in some cases, an insurer will cancel a driver’s personal coverage if they learn that they are working for a rideshare company.

Uber and Lyft do provide insurance for their drivers, but their level of coverage is different depending on what the driver is doing at the time of the accident. There are three general statuses that a rideshare driver could be in at the time of an accident:

  • Driving App Off: If a rideshare driver does not have their driving app on, then the company presumes that they are not working and extends no coverage. In this type of case, an injured party would go to the driver’s personal auto insurance policy for liability coverage. Hopefully, the insurer would not deny coverage claiming that they were not aware that the driver was working for a rideshare company, but this is always a remote possibility.
  • Driving App on Without a Passenger: If the driver has their app on, they are considered in “driving mode”. But when they are in driving mode without a passenger in the vehicle, Uber and Lyft both provide only $50,000 in liability coverage for each injured person, $100,000 in total liability coverage per accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage. This happens to be the same as the South Carolina state minimum coverages.
  • Driving App on With a Passenger: When a rideshare driver is in driving mode and has a passenger in the car, Uber and Lyft extend their liability coverage up to $1 million total for the accident.

As you can see, there is a very significant difference in the type of coverage an Uber or Lyft driver will have depending on what they are doing at the time of the crash. For example, if a rideshare driver hits a pedestrian right before they drop off their passenger, then there would be a total of $1 million in liability coverage available for the pedestrian’s injuries. But if that same pedestrian were hit right after the driver dropped off the passenger, then the liability limit would only be $100,000 total for the accident.

Another wrinkle to be aware of with ridesharing accidents is that, while the rideshare companies provide liability coverage for passengers, other vehicle drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and others who are hurt in accidents, this same coverage generally does not extend to injuries suffered or property damage sustained by the rideshare driver. This situation would apply, for example, if a rideshare driver was injured by another driver who did not have auto insurance or did not have an adequate level of coverage. Uber or Lyft drivers would need to go through their own private auto insurer for this coverage.

Injured in a Ridesharing Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

There are an increasing number of accidents involving Uber or Lyft drivers, and these cases are more complicated because of the varying types of insurance coverages that might apply. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a ridesharing accident, it is important to work with an experienced vehicle accident lawyer who thoroughly understands this area of law and what legal options are available to you.

If your accident occurred in South Carolina, Peake and Fowler is here to help. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-788-4370 or send us a message online. We look forward to serving you!

Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

Each year, there are millions of vehicle crashes in the United States. These crashes result in tens of thousands of fatalities, and hundreds of thousands more become seriously injured. Sadly, most of these accidents are preventable and caused by some type of human error, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, driving recklessly, or some other type of driver negligence.

While driver negligence is very often the cause of a car accident, there are some cases in which a party that was not operating any of the vehicles involved was to blame. This is commonly referred to as third-party liability.

When another party (other than the drivers) is at fault for an accident, the case will almost certainly become more complicated than a standard car accident. In such cases, injured individuals are best off working with an attorney who is focused mostly or exclusively on personal injury law. A seasoned accident injury attorney will have dealt with a lot of cases like these before, and this gives them unique insights that only come through dealing directly with the complexities that you are likely to encounter.

Third Parties that May be Liable for a Car Accident

There are several parties other than the drivers who could share fault for an auto accident:

Vehicle Owners

If a person loans a vehicle to someone that they know, or should have known was unfit to drive it, it may be possible to hold the vehicle owner liable under the legal theory known as negligent entrustment. Examples of unfit drivers may include individuals who are intoxicated, underage and/or unlicensed, suffering from an illness (such as epilepsy) that makes them susceptible to seizures, or has a history of driving recklessly. Negligent entrustment could also extend to parents or grandparents that allow a child to drive even though they know the child is inexperienced, reckless, or incompetent.

Passengers

A passenger could be held liable for an auto accident in some cases. For example, it is common among teens to give in to peer pressure, such as a passenger who encourages a teen driver to blow through a stop sign or otherwise drive recklessly. Sometimes a passenger’s role is even more direct, like when they physically interfere with driving by grabbing the steering wheel.

Alcohol Providers

In some drunk driving accident cases, a bar or other type of liquor establishment could be held responsible for providing alcohol to the intoxicated driver who caused the crash. This is commonly referred to as a “dram shop” claim. Claims like these require a high burden of proof, however, and you would need to show clear and convincing evidence that the person who received the alcohol was “visibly intoxicated”.

Product Manufacturers

Some car accidents are caused by a defective vehicle or vehicle part that fails to perform. For example, a newly installed brake line that does not bring the vehicle to a stop to avoid a crash, or a brand-new tire that blows out while traveling 55 mph down the highway. When a vehicle defect contributes to an auto crash, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the product manufacturer, supplier, or distributor.

Employers

An employer that allows an employee to drive a company vehicle or to drive a personal vehicle during working hours while performing occupational duties can be held responsible if the employee causes an accident. And even if a company claims that the driver is an independent contractor, it might turn out that they actually meet the definition of an employee. This happens frequently in the trucking industry, and in recent years, there has also been a question over the employment relationship with regards to ridesharing companies and their drivers like those who drive for Uber and Lyft.

There are numerous other third parties that could be responsible or at least share some of the fault for an auto accident. For example, with truck accidents, there are several parties that could be on the hook; which may include the driver’s employer, the owner/lessor of the truck, the cargo/shipping company that may have overloaded or unevenly loaded the truck, the party responsible for maintaining the truck, or a faulty vehicle or vehicle part provider.

As we talked about earlier, it is very important to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience with these types of cases and the proven ability to hold all responsible parties fully accountable.

Injured in a Car Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Legal Help

If you or someone close to you got hurt in an auto accident, there may be more potential avenues to recovering compensation than you realize. For a free consultation and full case assessment, get in touch with the skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Peake and Fowler. Call our office today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to speak with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

What Happens when you are Injured by an Aggressive Driver?

Aggressive driving is very common in South Carolina and throughout the country. We have all had to deal with drivers who follow us too closely, zip back and forth between lanes, pass us when there is very little room to complete the pass safely, and make other dangerous maneuvers. If we are honest with ourselves, we might have done some of these things as well when we were in a hurry and/or running late for an important appointment or engagement.

With all the “busyness” going on in our lives, many people seem to be in a big hurry these days. This has resulted more people engaging in aggressive driving, which often escalates into reckless driving and road rage. Unfortunately, behaviors like these heighten the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding or driving too fast for conditions is the leading cause of fatal vehicle crashes. Other forms of aggressive driving such as failure to yield the right-of-way, failure to stay in the proper lane, failing to obey traffic laws, and driving the vehicle in a careless or reckless manner are all major causes of motor vehicle accidents as well.

What Happens When You Suffer Injury at the Hands of an Aggressive Driver?

When someone is injured or killed due to the actions of an aggressive driver, they (and their families) deserve to be fully compensated. Compensation in an aggressive driving accident may be available for a wide range of losses, which may include:

  • Property damage;
  • Hospitalization costs;
  • Costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment;
  • Rehabilitation expenses;
  • The cost of ongoing medical care (in the case of a long-term debilitating injury);
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of earning capacity;
  • Funeral and burial expenses (in the case of a wrongful death);
  • Physical pain-and-suffering;
  • Psychological distress;
  • Diminished quality of life;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Permanent injury;
  • Loss of Consortium;
  • Loss of comfort, care, guidance, and support.

In some limited cases, punitive damages may also be awarded when the actions of the aggressive driver who caused the accident were especially egregious. One common example of a case when punitive damages may be appropriate is when alcohol is involved. A motorist whose intoxication contributes to their driving behavior should be punished for their actions to help discourage similarly wrongful acts in the future.

It is important to note that being injured in an accident with an aggressive driver does not automatically guarantee that you will be able to recover damages. You must first prove that the individual’s aggressive driving behavior constitutes negligence, and thus amounts to a breach of this driver’s duty to act prudently and reasonably under the specific circumstances leading up to the accident. You must also prove that the driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the accident (i.e., the accident would not have occurred but for the driver’s negligent or reckless actions), and that the accident resulted in compensable losses (e.g., property damage, injuries, or death).

South Carolina applies a modified form of the comparative negligence doctrine to auto accidents and other personal injury cases. This means that a plaintiff can recover damages as long as they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. That said, any damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault the plaintiff shares in the accident.

When you are injured by an aggressive driver, there is no doubt that the driver’s insurance company will look for ways to pin at least some of the blame on you so they can minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay. They may also try to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you are making them out to be and/or that your injuries are the result of a pre-existing condition.

When someone gets hurt in an aggressive driving accident, it is generally not recommended that they handle the case themselves. Insurance adjusters are trained professionals whose interests are not aligned with yours. And with so much at stake, it is best to have a strong legal advocate in your corner who is looking out for your best interests.

Injured in an Aggressive Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

If you or someone close to you got injured because of the actions of an aggressive driver in South Carolina, Peake & Fowler is here to help. Call our office today at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office at your convenience.

Left Turn Accidents: Who is Liable?

Making a left turn in countries like the United States where we drive on the right side of the road is among the more dangerous driving maneuvers. In fact, UPS, one of the world’s largest transportation services, plans their routes so their drivers almost never make left turns. One major reason for doing this is to save fuel – one report shows that UPS saves millions of gallons of fuel each year and avoids emissions equivalent to over 20,000 passenger cars by avoiding left turns. The other major reason is driver safety.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), turning left is a factor in 61% of all crashes that occur while turning or crossing an intersection, while turning right is a factor in only 3.1% of these types of crashes. Overall, left turns are a contributor to 22.2% of all vehicle crashes, while right turns contribute to just 1.2%. It is numbers like these that drive a major shipping carrier like UPS to use longer routes in many cases just to avoid making a left turn.

There are several reasons why turning left can be hazardous, these include:

  • Turning left (in a country where you drive on the right side of the road) goes against the natural flow of traffic, which greatly increases the chances of encountering traffic that is coming the opposite way;
  • With many types of vehicles, the view is more obstructed when turning left, which means the driver does not get as clear a view of oncoming traffic;
  • Drivers who are turning left sometimes forget to use their turn signals, failing to alert other vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians of their intentions;
  • Increased vehicle acceleration is required to complete a left turn. This makes it is easy to misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle, which could result in a crash. This is especially true at intersections that the driver is less familiar with.

Who is Responsible for a Left-Turn Accident?

When there is a left-turn accident, it is often assumed that the driver who is turning left is the one at fault. This is not necessarily the case, however. Although left turn maneuvers have been shown to be dangerous, this does not automatically mean the driver doing so is at fault for any accident that may occur. There are numerous factors that need to be looked at, and liability in each case always depends on the specific circumstances.

Left turn crashes typically happen when one driver is turning left into oncoming traffic while another car is going straight through the intersection. When this occurs, the driver turning left is usually supposed to yield to the other vehicle, but this also depends on the intersection, the traffic laws in the area, and other factors.

Here are some instances when another driver (other than the left turn driver) may be at least partially at fault or a left turn accident:

  • The left turn driver had a green turn arrow and the other driver ran a red light;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was exceeding the speed limit;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was legally intoxicated;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was sending or receiving texts or other electronic messages on their cell phone;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was eating, grooming, reading a GPS navigation map, or otherwise distracted when the accident occurred.

South Carolina Modified Comparative Negligence

When someone is injured in a left-turn accident in South Carolina, they may be able to recover damages even if they are partially responsible for the crash under the state’s modified comparative negligence laws. This is true as long as the injured driver is less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident.

That said, the amount of compensation that can be recovered is reduced in proportion with the percentage of fault a driver shares in the accident. For example, if their total losses added up to $150,000 and they are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their damage award would be reduced by $30,000 (down to $120,000).

Injured in Left-Turn Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one got injured in a left-turn accident or any other type of traffic-related crash in South Carolina, there is a good chance that the others involved will try to pin at least some of the blame on you in order to mitigate their losses. For this reason, it is very important to retain strong legal counsel, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be preserved.

At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-788-4370.

Who is Responsible for a Parking Lot Accident?

When most people think of a car accident, they imagine a collision that occurs on the roads, streets or highways. But auto accidents can also occur in parking lots and parking garages. On a typical weekday, lots and garages (particularly in downtown areas) are full of vehicles. Then on the weekends, they fill up again when people come to shop, go out to restaurants and clubs, and attend popular events.

Parking lot accidents are far more common than most people realize. According to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and garages each year, resulting in 500 or more deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. As we approach the holiday season, this is the time of year when the risk of parking lot collisions is at its highest.

Why Do So Many Parking Lot Accidents Occur?

Parking lots and garages pose some unique risks that are not necessarily present on the roadways.  These are small and enclosed areas where there are vehicles circling around (and often moving in opposite directions) trying to find a parking spot. On top of that, you have numerous pedestrians walking back and forth to and from their vehicles. Throw in the stress of looking for a place to park in a lot that is filling up, trying to keep up with a busy schedule, manage children, etc. – and you can see why so many collisions occur.

There are other factors that also heighten the risk of parking lot accidents, such as:

  • Speeding/Reckless Driving: When people are in a hurry or rushing to find a parking spot, they do not always drive through the lot or garage at a safe speed. Another common move is not using proper lanes and cutting through empty spaces to get where they are going.
  • Distracted Driving: As people drive into and out of parking lots and garages, they are often talking or texting on their phone, checking their emails or social media messages, looking at their GPS, and trying to control unruly passengers. These and other distractions can cause drivers to miss important things that are happening around them, such as a pedestrian walking to their car.
  • Faulty Designs: Some lots and garages are poorly designed. They have lanes going in multiple directions and signs and arrows that are unclear and confusing. They may also have parking spots that are too small and compact for most vehicles to safely get into and out of.
  • Negligent Maintenance: Lots and garages develop wear and tear over time. This can create potholes and similar hazards. When these hazards are not remedied, it makes it more dangerous for those who try to park and walk through these areas.

Who is At Fault in a Parking Lot Collision?

Collisions in parking lots and garages typically occur at lower speeds than those that happen on the roadways, but even accidents that do minimal damage to a vehicle can still result in moderate to severe injuries. This is particularly true when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian.

With parking lot accidents, determining fault is not always clear cut. When two vehicles collide with each other in a lot or garage, many people presume that both drivers are equally at fault.  This may be true sometimes, but there are other instances in which the negligence of one of the drivers causes the accident. This could be because of one or more of the factors we mentioned earlier, such as speeding, reckless/careless driving, or distracted driving.

In the case of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the vehicle driver is usually the one at fault. However, there are times when the pedestrian is at least partially to blame, such as when they are looking down at their phone and not watching where they are going. Determining who is responsible for a parking lot accident in such cases will typically require a thorough investigation, which may include reviewing the official accident report, examining any available surveillance footage, interviewing witnesses, pulling cell phone records, and many other steps.

Finally, it may be possible that a third party is responsible for the parking lot collision. For example, if the lot or garage is poorly designed or negligently maintained, responsibility for the accident could be placed on the shoulders of the owner or manager of the facility, or even the party that designed it.

Injured in a Parking Lot Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auto Accident Attorney

If you are someone close to you suffered injury in a parking lot or parking garage accident, you may be entitled to compensation. These types of cases can be very complicated, however, and it is important to obtain experienced legal counsel, so you are in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.

If the accident occurred in South Carolina, call Peake & Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.