South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers

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 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.

parking lot accident

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. 

sun glare accident

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.

distracted driving causes motorcycle accidents

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.

commercial truck

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?

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.

Rear End accident Law Firm - Peake & Fowler

Should I seek Medical Attention after a Rear End Collision?

Thousands of individuals are injured in motor vehicle crashes each day. Many of these injuries are minor, but some are more serious and even catastrophic. Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of vehicle crashes, accounting for approximately one-third of all auto accidents.

A rear-end crash can happen just about anywhere, and there are a number of reasons why they occur. Some common causes include:

  • Speeding/reckless driving
  • Driving too close/tailgating
  • Distracted driving/inattentiveness
  • Drowsy/fatigued driving
  • Faulty vehicle parts/mechanical failure
  • Heavy traffic
  • Adverse driving conditions

A rear-end collision may seem like a minor “fender-bender”, but there are far more injuries that occur from these types of accidents than most people believe. According to a 2015 Washington Post report, there are approximately 1.7 million rear-end crashes on the nation’s roadways each year. These crashes result in around 500,000 injuries, 1,700 of which are fatal.

I Don’t Feel Injured, Should I Still Seek Medical Attention after a Rear-End Collision?

While you may not “feel” hurt after a rear-end crash, you may still have injuries. Here are a couple reasons why:

Adrenaline and Endorphins

At some point, you have probably watched a football or hockey game in which a player was hurt during the game, kept on playing, and did not notice the injury until after the game was over. Maybe this has even happened to you personally. The reason an athlete does not always notice or feel pain from an injury right away is because of the combination of adrenaline and endorphins, two chemicals that are fired off and can sometimes block pain during the excitement of the game.

This same phenomenon can occur with a rear-end collision. If you have ever been involved in a car accident in the past, you have likely experienced this type of adrenaline and endorphin rush. An accident is an unsettling experience that can cause your heart to race and your mind to process everything at heightened speeds, which sometimes blocks pain. The end result is that, just because you may feel okay right after the crash, this does not mean you will not feel hurt later on.

Delayed Onset of Certain Injuries

There are certain injuries that are not immediately apparent right after a car crash and could take several hours or longer for the symptoms to show up. Some delayed onset injuries can be severe and even life-threatening. Examples include:

  • Internal Injuries
  • Back and Neck Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Whiplash and Other Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Concussions and Other Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Seeking Medical Attention after a Rear-End Crash Helps Protect You Physically and Legally

Whenever you are involved in a rear-end wreck or any type of motor vehicle accident, your health and safety are the top priorities. So, even if you feel “okay”, it is always strongly recommended that you get checked out by a medical professional right away. Failing to do so could make any injuries you have far worse. Seeking medical attention immediately after a car accident also makes it easier to get your medical bills covered by insurance, and it helps with any legal claim you may want to pursue in the future.

For example, imagine if you walked away from a fender-bender, exchanged insurance information with the driver who rear-ended you, and did not see a doctor. The next morning, you start to feel some nagging neck and back pain, but you assume these injuries are minor and will go away soon. After a week or two, the pain persists or even gets worse. You go to the doctor and find out you have a whiplash injury, and the bills to get treated start to add up. At this point, you contact the insurance adjuster, but the adjuster disputes the idea that this injury is related to the accident, because it took so long for you to get medical care.

If you’d had a thorough medical examination right after the accident, you would have an established connection between your injury and the collision. This makes it far easier to have your medical expenses paid and recover any other compensatory damages you may be entitled to.

Speak with a Skilled South Carolina Rear-End Collision Lawyer

Even if you do not feel hurt right away, rear-end wrecks can cause lasting injuries. If you or a loved one was involved in a rear-end crash, seek medical attention right away, then get in contact with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Peake & Fowler. We have successfully represented clients injured in auto accidents in South Carolina since 2000, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to provide the strong personalized representation you need and deserve.

Call us today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.

Trucking Accidents

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Truck drivers have a difficult and stressful job. They drive for long hours over-the-road, and they are frequently under pressure to deliver their loads on schedule. With these types of conditions, many truckers stay on the road longer than they should, making them susceptible to fatigue, drowsy driving, and even falling asleep at the wheel.

The Drowsy Driving Problem in the U.S.

Drowsy driving is generally defined as driving with the combination of fatigue and sleepiness. This can be caused by driving without having enough sleep. But it can also happen because of alcohol, various medications, too many repetitive hours on the road, and untreated sleep disorders. Drowsiness adversely affects drivers in several ways:

  • Inhibits drivers’ ability to pay attention to the road;
  • Slows driver reaction time;
  • Causes drivers to make poor driving decisions.

Driving while drowsy is a major problem in the United States, and it is far more widespread than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • One out of 25 drivers (18 years of age or older) report having fallen asleep at the wheel during the past 30 days;
  • Drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes each year, and up to 6,000 of these crashes are fatal;
  • Commercial drivers (such as operators of tow trucks, 18-wheelers, and buses) and those who drive long shifts are among the groups most likely to drive while drowsy.

Drowsy Driving and Trucking Accidents

Because of their sheer weight and size, large commercial vehicles are the most dangerous vehicles that can be involved in a drowsy driving accident. Truck accidents can result in serious and catastrophic injuries and fatalities, and most often, occupants of other vehicles are the ones who suffer the most severe injuries.

According to a Harvard School of Medicine Study, nearly half of semi-truck drivers who participated in the study admitted to having drifted off while driving a long-haul route. Researchers have found that driving while drowsy produces similar affects to driving while intoxicated, and with drowsy driving so widespread among truckers, it puts countless other motorists who share the road with them in serious danger.

Why are Truckers more Susceptible to Drowsy Driving?

Sleepiness and fatigue can happen to anyone who is out driving. Truck drivers are especially at risk for driving drowsy, however, because of the nature of their job. Truckers frequently drive during overnight hours when it is easy to dose off; and as mentioned earlier, they are often under enormous pressure to deliver their cargo on time. While a typical driver who is tired can pull into a rest stop and sleep for a while, a trucker may not have that luxury, because obtaining a few hours of well-needed sleep might mean throwing your schedule way off.

To address the issue of long hours on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service guidelines that all over-the-road truckers must adhere to. For example, commercial truck drivers that carry cargo may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours being off duty. Unfortunately, these and other safety guidelines are frequently ignored by drivers who are pushed to meet deadlines and/or incentivized to deliver their cargo ahead of schedule.

When a trucker ignores government regulations and a truck accident occurs because of drowsy driving, it is important that those responsible are held fully accountable. These types of cases can be complicated, however, and it can be difficult to determine whether liability lies with the driver or the trucking company. This depends largely on the relationship between the two.

If a driver is a direct employee of a trucking company, then it is pretty clear that the employer can be held responsible. If the driver is classified as a subcontractor, however, then the case requires further investigation. There are times when a driver meets the criteria for being an employee but is misclassified as a subcontractor, so the trucking company can avoid responsibility for the driver’s actions.

Speak with a Skilled South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you need an experienced attorney by your side who understands the complexities of these types of cases and what it takes to obtain a favorable result even against well-funded adversaries. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented truck accident injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. We work closely with clients, thoroughly investigating their cases and exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full compensation. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.