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.

How Common is Drowsy Driving?

The short answer is – drowsy driving is far more common than most people believe. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), driving while drowsy or fatigued is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and more than 40,000 injuries each year. That said, drivers who are involved in vehicle crashes are often reluctant to admit to drowsiness, which means that the actual numbers which show up on a police report are most likely vastly underreported. The CDC believes that drowsy driving may actually be responsible for up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year.

Drowsy Driving Statistics

Although drowsy driving does not receive nearly the amount of attention as other poor driving behaviors such as drunk driving and distracted driving, it can still be very deadly, and it happens a lot more often than most of us realize. One of the things that makes driving while drowsy so dangerous is that people don’t know the exact moment that sleep overcomes their body. This is true whether you are in bed, on a couch, or at the wheel.

Clearly, falling asleep at the wheel is the worst possible result when someone is driving while drowsy, but even if that does not happen, the effects of drowsiness can still be disastrous. When someone is drowsy behind the wheel, all of their focus is required just to stay awake, making them less able to pay attention to the road. Drowsy drivers also have slower reaction times, and if an adverse situation requires them to steer or hit the brake suddenly, they may not be able to do so in time to avoid a crash.

The CDC reports that an estimated one out of every 25 adult drivers admit to having fallen asleep while driving within the past 30 days. Another study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of those who responded to their poll have driven while feeling sleepy within the past year, and 37% admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that drowsy driving costs our economy approximately $12.5 billion each year.

Who is Most Likely to Drive While Drowsy?

As the National Sleep Foundation poll shows, a majority of people have driven when they were sleepy or fatigued, and this can happen to anyone who does not get enough sleep. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and teens should get at least eight hours. Studies show that those who sleep six hours or fewer each night and/or those who snore are most at risk for drowsy driving.

In addition to those who do not get enough sleep, there are some specific groups who are particularly susceptible to driving while drowsy or fatigued:

  • Young Men: Men who are in their teens, 20s, and 30s are most likely to drive when they are tired and sleepy, and this behavior usually occurs during late evening and overnight hours.
  • Shift Workers: Individuals who work long shifts and rotating shifts that often include evenings and overnights make up another group that is at risk of drowsy driving.
  • Commercial Drivers: Tow truck drivers, bus drivers, and drivers of tractor-trailers are often on the road for long hours without taking a break. This makes them more likely to get sleepy behind the wheel.
  • Individuals with Untreated Sleep Disorders: People with sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or other sleep disorders that are not treated tend to get sleepier during the day when they are out driving.
  • Individuals who use Sleep-Inducing Medications: Many medications that individuals are given to treat various conditions cause sleepiness as a side effect. Those who take these types of medications need to be aware of this before getting behind the wheel.
  • Frequent Travelers: Those who travel frequently from one time zone to another have difficulty adjusting their bodies to a proper sleep schedule. Individuals in this category may include business travelers and over-the-road truckers.

Injured in Drowsy Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of a drowsy driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. The insurance company for the other side is not likely to give you a fair offer, however, and it is important to at least speak with a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer, so you understand your rights and options.

If the accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for assistance. Message us online or call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!

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.

How Common are Distracted Driving Accidents?

Driving while distracted is a very dangerous activity that claims the lives of more than 3,000 individuals each year. According to Business Insider, distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents, and it is estimated that 80% of all vehicle accidents involve some form of driver distraction. All it takes is just a few seconds of distraction to cause a collision, and in today’s modern age, there are more ways a driver can be distracted than ever before.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving is quickly becoming a national epidemic, and here are some of the most disturbing statistics that underscore this fact:

  • About 9 people are killed each day and more than 1,000 individuals are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers;
  • More than 80% of motorists admit to distracting behavior while driving;
  • In one survey, 56% of respondents admit to using their cell phones while driving;
  • Distracted driving is the direct cause of nearly 60% of all crashes that involve teen drivers;
  • Teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are most likely to drive while distracted;
  • A teen driver with at least one additional passenger in the car is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as a teen driver with no passengers;
  • Car crashes are now the number one killer among teens in the US;
  • Drivers are 8 times more likely to be involved in a crash when reaching for an object, and three times more likely to crash while eating or drinking when they drive;
  • Distracted driving costs our society approximately $40 billion each year.

Types of Distracted Driving

There are numerous ways that a driver can be distracted. Some of the most common include:

  • Eating and drinking;
  • Grooming;
  • Reaching for an object;
  • Tuning a car radio;
  • Reading a GPS;
  • Interacting with a passenger;
  • Interacting with a pet;
  • Talking on a cell phone;
  • Watching a video;
  • Sending, receiving, and reading texts;
  • Sending, receiving, and reading other types of electronic messages.

Distracted driving can be broken down into four general categories:

  • Visual: A distraction that causes drivers to take their eyes off of the road. Visual distractions can be partial in which a driver still maintains his or her peripheral vision, or they can be total when the driver’s full visual focus is directed away from the road.
  • Audio: A distraction that prevents the driver from hearing noises from outside that they may need to deal with. For example, playing the radio so loud that you are unable to hear a motorcycle that is driving alongside your vehicle.
  • Manual: A distraction that causes the driver to take his/her hands off of the wheel or clutch for any reason. Examples of manual distractions that we talked about earlier include eating/drinking, reaching for an object, or handling a passenger or pet.
  • Cognitive: A distraction that takes a driver’s mind away from the road. For example, becoming totally engaged in a radio program, phone conversation, or a conversation with a passenger.

All of the different categories of distractions can be hazardous to drivers when they occur in the wrong place and at the wrong time. However, texting while driving and other types of electronic activity while behind the wheel bring the dangers of distracted driving to a whole new level.

For example, sending, receiving, or reading a text falls into three different categories of distraction; visual, manual, and cognitive. Watching a video is even worse, because it can also become an audio distraction. The end result of these types of distractions is the driver becoming totally focused on their cell phone, making an auto accident much more likely.

Just to provide some context to how dangerous texting while driving is, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that when someone looks down at their phone for just five seconds while driving at 55 mph, it is similar to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

Injured in Distracted Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

Distracted driving is a danger that we must all be aware of, and we all need to do our part to curb this type of behavior and make the roads safer. When you have done all you can do, however, you still cannot control the actions of others.

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury at the hands of a distracted driver, you deserve to be fully compensated.If your accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for skilled legal guidance. Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!

What are the Most Common Causes of Car Crashes?

There are millions of motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year, and a large number of them result in moderate to severe injuries, with many fatalities as well. South Carolina averages 20.5 deaths per hundred thousand people due to car crashes, according to a 2018 report by WIS News 10 Columbia. This gives the Palmetto State the unenviable distinction of being the third deadliest state in the nation for fatal car crashes.

There are numerous reasons why auto accidents occur, and according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 94% and 96% of all motor vehicle crashes are caused by some type of human error. The remaining 4% to 6% would be due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, such as bad weather or a large animal jumping in front of an oncoming vehicle.

Here are some of the most common causes of vehicle crashes that result from human error:

Distracted Driving

In recent years, distractions have become one of the leading causes of auto accidents. Motorists have always had distractions, some of the most common being food and drink, tuning the dial on the radio, billboards that catch their attention for a little too long, or even other passengers that pull their focus away from the road.

Technological breakthroughs, although they are a blessing to our lives in many ways, have brought distracted driving to a whole new level. Texting while driving and other types of electronic activity distract drivers visually, manually, and cognitively. And the end result is that they are focused completely on what is happening with their phone. This makes it far more likely that they will be involved in a crash because they did not notice a potential hazard and/or they did not react to it in time.

Speeding

Speeding is another one of the leading causes of auto accidents. Most drivers have gone over the speed limit on occasion, and with some drivers, this behavior is habitual. Speed limits are there for a reason, and the faster the vehicle travels, the more difficult it is for a driver to react to adverse situations that may arise. And because crashes caused by speeding typically happen at high speeds, the force and impact of the collision increases the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

Driving aggressively or recklessly is another behavior that heightens the risk of a car crash. Excessive speeding is one example of this, and others include tailgating, weaving back and forth between lanes or over the center line, illegal and/or dangerous passing maneuvers, running stop signs and red lights, illegal turns, street racing, and many others.

Drunk Driving

Despite decades of public relations campaigns from organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), far too many people still make the horrible and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much drink. Drunk driving causes approximately 10,000 traffic-related fatalities each year, and this behavior is especially common at night, on weekends, and during major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and the 4th of July.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving does not get nearly as much attention as distracted driving, reckless driving, or drunk driving. This could be because driving while drowsy or fatigued is not illegal, and because it is much harder to accurately estimate the number of accidents that are caused by a drowsy driver.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated one out of every 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep at the wheel within the past 30 days. And although the official NHTSA data shows only around 800 drowsy driving-related fatalities per year, the CDC says that these numbers are underestimated, and the actual number of fatalities is closer to 6,000. The reason for the discrepancy is that drowsiness is often not listed as a cause of accident on official police reports.

Third Parties

Third parties who are not directly involved are a contributing factor in some motor vehicle accidents. For example, some accidents occur because of poorly maintained roads with dangerous conditions such as potholes and large cracks in the pavement. Negligent maintenance is another common problem, particularly with commercial trucks and fleet vehicles that log a large number of miles on a regular basis. Finally, car crashes may be caused by faulty or defective vehicle parts. Examples include brake line failures, computer dashboard malfunctions, and tire blowouts.

Injured in Car Crash in South Carolina? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auto Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a motor vehicle accident in South Carolina, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve. At Peake & Fowler, we are ready to go to work for you! To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 803-788-4370. You may also message us online or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

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. 

How to Prevent Sun Glare Accidents

During the summer in South Carolina, we are at the height of daylight savings time. Sunrise is before 6:00 AM, and sunset is after 8:00 PM. But when we get into the fall and winter, the days get shorter, and sunrise and sunsets tend to happen during the middle of our peak driving times. This presents a hazard that many of us do not consider – the potential for accidents caused by sun glare.

Sun glare contributes to numerous accidents with serious injuries and fatalities, and the risk is highest in the United States during this time of year. The exact number of accidents that are caused by sun glare is hard to pinpoint, however, because it is not always listed as a factor in police reports.

Most of us have experienced the sudden blinding effect of an overpowering glare penetrating our windshield. You are driving due east to work in the morning or due west returning from work in the evening, and the bright sunlight suddenly hits your eyes. When this happens, it can be just as dangerous as driving through fog or heavy rain, and all you can do is hope you don’t run into another car, bicyclist, pedestrian or object because you can’t see them.

It is important to note that South Carolina is not a “no-fault” state; and becoming blinded by sun glare is not a valid defense against being held liable for a car accident. Although many people may want to consider sun glare an “act of God”, legally, it does not fall into this category.  Motorists have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to operate their vehicles safely, and this includes minimizing the chances of a sun glare accident.  

Tips for Preventing Sun Glare Accidents

Here are some ways drivers can help prevent collisions due to blinding sun glare:

  • Keep your Windshield Clean: Streaks and marks on your windshield can make the glare even worse and more blinding. And using washer fluid while you are driving does not always help, especially if your wiper blades leave streaks. Before driving, clean off your windshield. And if your wiper blades are old and worn, replace them so you are able to keep your windshield clean during your drive.
  • Clear Off Your Dashboard: Reflective objects on your dashboard could cause the glare to get worse as well. Make sure your dashboard is cleared off before you start driving.
  • Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses may not give you perfect vision under these conditions, but they can help a lot in reducing or eliminating the glare on your eyes from the sun. 
  • Consider Additional Sun Visors: Use the sun visors you have to block the sun glare as much as possible. You may also want to consider adding extra sun visors to cover more area as you drive.
  • Reduce your Speed: When there is sun glare, it becomes more difficult to judge the distance between you and other vehicles and objects. Reduce your speed and allow plenty of distance between you and other vehicles on the road.
  • Eliminate Other Distractions: Sun glare is distracting enough, do not make matters worse by talking or texting on your cell phone, trying to read the GPS, fidgeting around with the radio, eating or drinking, or doing anything else that distracts you from focusing on the road.
  • Alter your Driving Route and Drive Time: If possible, use a different driving route and/or alter the time when you leave for work or come home from work. There is not much you can do if you must travel east in the morning and west in the evening, but there may be some routes that include more north/south traveling, or that allow you to travel on the east/west roads after the sun glare has been reduced.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake & Fowler for Legal Help

You can take all the precautions in the world to prevent a sun glare collision, but unfortunately, you cannot control what other drivers do. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. 

If the accident occurred in South Carolina, get in touch with the experienced attorneys at Peake & Fowler. Call us today at 803-788-4370 or message us through our online contact form. You may also stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

Does Distracted Driving Cause more Motorcycle Accidents?

The number of annual motorcycle accident fatalities has vastly increased during the past couple of decades, and many people attribute the sharp rise in fatalities to distracted driving. During the 1990s, the average motorcycle accident fatality rate was less than 3,000 per year. This number began to rise significantly in the early to mid-2000s, and today, annual motorcycle crash fatality rates hover around 5,000 every year.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the road. There are numerous ways a motorist can be distracted, some of the most common include:

  • Talking on the phone while driving;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Watching YouTube videos;
  • Reading a GPS navigation map;
  • Eating and drinking;
  • Grooming;
  • Looking at road signs, billboards, and other signs and displays;
  • Tuning in a new station on the car radio;
  • Talking to other people in the vehicle;
  • Many others…

The different types of distracted driving can be divided into four general categories:

  • Visual: Fixing your eyes on something other than the road.
  • Audio: Hearing sounds that are not related to driving.
  • Manual: Handling objects other than the steering wheel or other essential vehicle components.
  • Cognitive: Thinking about something other than driving (e.g., daydreaming).

Drivers have always had distractions, and they can all be hazardous if they occur in the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, texting while driving and similar smartphone activity is especially dangerous, because it can fall into the at least three of the distraction categories; visual, manual, and cognitive. And with the alerts and notifications we receive regularly on our cell phones, it could be argued that audio should be included in this list as well.

To put into perspective just how dangerous texting while driving is, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that sending or reading a text for just five seconds is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.  Distracted driving claimed the lives of more than 3,100 individuals in U.S. in 2017 alone.

How Distracted Driving Endangers Motorcyclists

Our national distracted driving epidemic has made the roadways less safe for everyone. But that said, motorcyclists are at even greater risk of accidents with serious injuries because of motorists who drive while distracted. Unlike occupants of cars and trucks, those who ride motorcycles are not protected by a steel cage, and when they are involved in a collision, there is not much that separates their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is why motorcyclists are statistically 28 times more likely to be killed in a collision (per mile driven) than motor vehicle occupants.

What makes it worse for motorcyclists is their small profile. A large number of distracted driving accidents happen because of motorists who cause collisions because they are too busy looking at their phones see a motorcycle or motor vehicle that enters their blind spot. These accidents can also happen because the driver who is looking at his/her phone weaves into another lane. The problem has gotten so bad, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2017 that distracted driving is now a contributing factor in approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents.

Most states have laws against distracted driving, but the consequences for a violation are usually nothing more than a small fine. The dangers of texting while driving are considered to be on par with drunk driving, but the penalties are not nearly enough to deter drivers from continuing with this type of driving behavior. So, until the laws get tougher and more drivers start adhering to them, motorcyclists need to be proactive and take steps to protect themselves from distracted drivers.

Here are some ways motorcyclists can stay safer on the roads:

  • Wear bright or reflective clothing and keep your lights on even during the day to help other drivers see you;
  • Always make eye contact with the driver of a car or truck before crossing in front of them;
  • Be on the lookout for signs that other drivers are distracted, such as weaving over the center line, moving back and forth rapidly between lanes, and remaining at a stop light even after the light turns green;
  • And of course, do not text while driving or allow yourself to get distracted in other ways.  

Injured by a Distracted Driver in South Carolina? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler

You can follow all the safety rules, but unfortunately, you cannot control what other drivers will do. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still end up in an accident that is caused by the negligence of another motorist. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, call Peake and Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.

5 Things to Do if you are in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

If you are in a collision with a big rig truck, it can be an unsettling and frightening experience.  Large commercial trucks are typically 20 to 30 times heavier than other types of vehicles, and they can do widespread damage when they are involved in an accident. At first, you may be in a bit of a shock and you may not be totally sure if you are hurt or not. Next, your heart starts to race, and a million thoughts go through your mind as you think about what all this means and what needs to be done to properly handle the situation.

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. The steps you take immediately after an accident with a semi-truck could greatly impact any claim you bring later on for property damage and injuries, so it is important to clear your mind and remain calm to help ensure that everything can be handled appropriately.

Here are five things you should do after you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle:

Call for Medical Help

The first priority after any type of motor vehicle accident is to make sure everyone who is hurt gets proper medical attention, and this includes yourself. You may not feel hurt while you are at the accident scene, but this could just be because of adrenaline, or the fact that some injury symptoms do not start to show up until later on. Call 911 immediately to bring an ambulance to the scene. Along these same lines, if there are injuries, the police should be called as well. In many cases, the 911 operator will call the police for you. Otherwise, call the police to the scene, so they can assist those involved in the accident, document the incident, and get an official report on file.

Secure the Accident Scene

After you call for help, move your vehicle (if possible) to a safe location that is off to side of the road or otherwise out of the line of traffic. Keep your hazard lights on, and put cones, flares, or flashers around the vehicles involved in the crash so other motorists can avoid them.

Collect Information about the Accident

Exchange information with the truck driver, and obtain their name and contact information, driver’s license number, U.S. DOT serial number (if available), the name and contact information of their employer (if applicable), and their insurance information. You should also document as much as possible for your own records. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene and write down or voice record on your cell phone as much detail as you can about what happened while everything is fresh in your mind. The police will file an official report, but you should have your own report as well, so you can compare it to what the police reported and correct any errors.

Obtain Witness Statements

If there were any individuals nearby who witnessed the event, be sure to obtain statements and contact information from them. Many times, witnesses will allow you to record a video statement from them describing what happened. If you are able to do this, the testimony of these witnesses can be extremely valuable in proving your case if you decide to bring an accident injury claim later on.

Report the Accident to your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within 24 to 72 hours after it occurs.  Individual policies may vary, so it is best to get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible.  Report the accident, but only give them the facts. Do not admit fault or speculate on who was at fault, leave that for the experts to sort out. Also, do not give an insurance company any recorded statements or sign any medical release forms without first speaking to an attorney.

Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident in South Carolina, it is important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible after the accident, so important pieces of evidence can be preserved and your legal right to compensation can be protected. At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in commercial truck accidents. We work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States. A car accident, even one that seems relatively minor, can result in fairly serious injuries. Oftentimes, however, those involved in these types of accidents don’t notice their injuries until later on. This frequently happens for the same reason athletes may not feel injured while they are in the middle of a game; the adrenaline rush.

You have most likely seen or heard stories of football players finishing a game with a broken ankle or broken leg, then not being able to move and requiring surgery after the game. The adrenaline rush of being “in the zone” allows athletes to minimize the pain in their minds and keep powering through while the game is still going on. Auto accidents can create a similar situation for some who are involved. When you crash into another vehicle, you are startled, your heart starts to race, and your mind is intently focused on dealing with the situation.

In the heat of the moment, you may feel only minor aches and pains, if anything at all. But in the coming days, you begin to experience neck and back pain and start to wonder what’s causing it. This is where many who are involved in auto accidents make a mistake. They believe that, just because they felt little (if any) pain at the scene of the accident, the pain they are feeling now must be minor. In many cases, however, this is the sign of a more serious injury.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Accident?

If you are starting to feel neck and back pain (particularly pain in your lower back) after an auto accident, this is often due to a whiplash injury. Whiplash is the rapid, jerky back-and-forth motion experienced by many vehicle occupants during a collision. Whiplash can cause injuries to the neck and several areas of the back. The effects of these injuries can last for days, weeks, or even months.

The extent and severity of a whiplash injury depends largely on the speed at which the vehicles collide, the ability for vehicle occupants to “brace” for the collision, how soon those involved are treated for their injuries, and other factors.

Symptoms of whiplash can occur immediately after an accident, but as we discussed earlier, it can take several hours up to several days in some cases to begin feeling the effects of the injury. Some common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:

The neck and back pain you feel after a car accident is known as discogenic pain. Discogenic pain refers to aches associated with our spinal discs. There are five vertebrae in our lumbar spine with soft discs between each one. These discs serve as a cushioning system and help provide mobility and stability for our body.

Individuals can experience discogenic pain because of gradual deterioration of the spine, or it can happen because of sudden trauma, such as a whiplash injury from a car crash. Some of the most common conditions that may cause neck and back pain after an accident include:

What to Do if you Feel Back and Neck Pain after an Accident

If you or someone close to you was involved in an accident and you are experiencing neck and back pain afterwards, seek qualified medical treatment immediately. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical, and the sooner you see a medical professional, the better the chances of a successful recovery without requiring major procedures such as surgery. After you have received medical help, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

If the accident was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. With these types of cases, insurance companies often contact injured parties soon after the incident with a lowball settlement offer. Before accepting any offers from an insurer, speak to the skilled South Carolina accident injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler. We will thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you will have all the facts before deciding how to proceed. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.