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.

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.