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.

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.

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
  • DUI/DWI
  • 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.

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.

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina?

Motorists in Columbia, South Carolina face several hazards on the roads each day. We contend with distracted drivers, drunk drivers, crumbling roads, and other dangerous conditions that can result in serious accidents or even death.  One of the biggest risk factors for South Carolina drivers is getting entangled with someone who has either too little or no insurance coverage at all.

When you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, your ability to collect for damages becomes complicated. One of the best ways that you can protect yourself from these events is to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Here is what you need to know about uninsured motorist coverage in South Carolina and what happens if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver.

South Carolina Auto Insurance Rules

South Carolina law requires that all drivers carry a certain level of auto insurance coverage. As a driver in this state, you are supposed to have several types of coverages at some minimum limits. These include:

  • Bodily Injury Coverage: Minimum of $25,000 per person, per accident.
  • Bodily Injury Coverage: $50,000 total coverage per accident.
  • Property Damage: Minimum $25,000 per accident.

Also, all drivers are required to carry some form of uninsured motorist coverage, generally equal to the minimum amounts of your liability coverage, such as 25/50/25.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage in South Carolina provides protection for you in the event that someone else decides not to follow the law and purchase auto insurance. The coverage will pay up to the policy limits if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver or if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Accidents With Uninsured Motorists in South Carolina

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), about 7.7% of all South Carolina drivers are making their way around the state completely uninsured. While this is one of the lower rates in the U.S., it’s still a problem if you’re in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Fortunately, this valuable protection will help if you are injured or have property damage.

Underinsured motorist coverage is a bit different. If you are involved in a serious auto accident with someone else that only has minimum limits on their policy, and that other party was at fault, there may not be enough coverage to pay for your damages. This is where underinsured motorists coverage might pay. Auto insurers in South Carolina are required to offer you this coverage, but you don’t have to carry it.

Recovering From Your Own Insurance Company

Even when you have the right coverage in place, getting a large insurance company to pay when you have an accident can be a chore. Yes, we’re talking about your own insurance company, which makes having to deal with red tape and claim denials even more frustrating.

Your insurance company is supposed to look out for your best interests, but the truth is that they will put their profits before your health and wellbeing most days of the week. This is why it’s just as important to have a trusted and experienced South Carolina auto accident attorney on your side from the start.

If you need to file an uninsured motorist claim in South Carolina, it’s important that you are prepared and remain persistent. A few of the things that you’ll need to do include:

  • Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the insurer may use this as a reason to deny your claim.
  • Document everything about the accident, including damage, any injuries, and witness information.
  • Be prepared to explain the incident to the insurance company, but use caution. Avoid giving recorded statement until you first discuss your case with a knowledgeable accident attorney. Insurance adjusters are well-trained at getting accident victims to admit potential fault.
  • Also, avoid discussing settlement with an insurance company before consulting an attorney. If you are offered a quick settlement, it probably means that your case is worth much more than the figure mentioned.

What many injured parties don’t realize is that settlements in the case of an uninsured motorist can go beyond policy limits for a single policy. If there is more than one driver or policy involved, coverage in South Carolina can be “stacked” until the injured parties recover a satisfactory level of compensation.

Dealing with uninsured motorist coverage in a serious accident can be a complicated matter. This is why we suggest that you contact an experienced South Carolina accident attorney to protect your rights. Call our Columbia auto accident attorney at (502) 384-7400 or toll-free at (855) 598-7425 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

What Should I Do Immediately Following A Car Accident

Getting into a car accident is a stressful experience, even when one or both parties only sustain minor damage. Since remaining calm and thinking clearly immediately after an accident can be challenging, we encourage you to review this information, print it, and keep it in your car in case you need it.

Always Remain at the Scene of a Car Accident

You could face legal consequences if you leave an accident scene without waiting for the police and exchanging information with the other driver. This is true whether the other party sustained injuries or not. Pull your car over to the side of the road as much as possible and turn on your emergency flashers. You should not get out of the vehicle at this point.

Check for Injuries Immediately

If anyone in your vehicle appears unconscious or complains of back or neck pain, do not try to move him or her on your own. Talk to the person and try to keep him or her calm until an ambulance arrives. However, you must evacuate passengers immediately if the car becomes engulfed in flames or you smell gas. Be sure to support each person’s head, neck, and back the best you can. If you have a cell phone, call 9-1-1 immediately to request an ambulance if needed and a police officer to take a report. If not, flag down another motorist to make the call.

Give Information to Police and Exchange Details with the Other Driver

The police officer responding to your call will ask you and the other driver for the following:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Street address
  • Car insurance policy number and name of insurance company
  • Brief description of how the accident occurred

Under South Carolina state law, you must carry proof of insurance and provide it to a law enforcement officer on request. The police officer should give you his or her name, contact information, and badge number. You need this information to get the police report later, so be sure to ask for it if not offered.

You also need to get contact and insurance details from the other driver as well as the license plate number of his or her car. The police officer will likely ask for contact information for adult passengers in both vehicles. Even if you think your actions caused the crash, don’t accept responsibility for it at the scene. You don’t always know all the details in the chaotic moments right after an accident. If you learn more later and wish to pursue a lawsuit, the other driver could have the case dismissed by stating that you accepted liability.

Take Pictures and Speak to Witnesses

Most smartphones have a built-in camera, so be sure to take pictures of your vehicle at the scene of the accident. If you don’t have a camera available or are unable to take pictures, ask your passengers or witnesses to the crash to take pictures for you. Having photos of the damage immediately after the accident helps to prove your claim to the insurance company. You can still snap photos after you get your car home or to a body shop if you don’t have a camera available at the time.

People riding with the other driver are likely to support his or her version of events, so make sure you speak to other witnesses if possible. Drivers and passengers in cars directly behind your vehicle or pedestrians may have seen the entire thing. Be sure to ask for the name, telephone number, and accident description from anyone willing to talk. However, don’t pressure any witnesses since the police will ask them the same questions.

You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you get home. The law firm of Peake & Fowler is also available to pursue a personal injury case if you sustained injuries due to the negligence or recklessness of the other driver.  A personal injury lawyer can fight for the rights of accident victims and help ensure insurance companies deal with them fairly. While a car accident is stressful, you shouldn’t have to continue suffering in a continuing struggle to receive compensation.  Contact the Peake & Fowler Law Firm at (803) 788-4370 and one of our Injury Attorneys will help you with your accident injuries.

Hit & Run Accidents in the U.S. Are on the Rise

When you’re involved in any sort of motor vehicle crash, you have a basic legal duty to remain at the scene to exchange information and render assistance to anyone who might be injured. Unfortunately, not all drivers do this. Hit and run accidents are becoming more common on our nation’s roads, now numbering 11 out of every 100 traffic accidents. Hit and run deaths are on the rise (nearly 1,500 annually), with a 13.7% increase in the latest period studied. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious crime, but it’s something that happens all too often.

Why People Flee the Scene

The reasons that people flee the scene of an accident vary. A motor vehicle accident is a stressful event that can trigger that “flight” instinct in some people, especially those who feel as if they’ve done something wrong. In some cases, a person might leave because they are already involved in some other illegal activity, might not have permission to use the vehicle they’re driving, or might not even have a driver’s license.

Some drivers may be impaired and realize that they will be charged with a DUI should they stop after an accident. Others might not have auto insurance and fear being held financially responsible for damages. In some cases, especially with pedestrians or bicyclists at night, the driver might not be aware that they’ve hit someone.

Injuries to Bicyclists and Pedestrians

A hit and run accident can involve nearly any type of car crash, but they tend to be the most common among bicyclist and pedestrian accidents. These can be tragic because a vehicle moving at even the slowest speed can cause severe injury or death to a pedestrian or cyclist. Common injuries suffered include brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, disfigurement, and loss of limbs.

What’s the Penalty for a Hit and Run?

The penalties for a hit and run vary by state, but this is a serious offense. Anyone who leaves the scene of an accident can expect both criminal and administrative penalties should they be caught. In many cases, witnesses, physical evidence, or technology brings these hit and run drivers to justice, so fleeing the scene isn’t a wise choice.

If there are injuries, most states classify these cases as a felony hit and run. In South Carolina, the criminal penalties are steep, with fines up to $10,000 and prison time from 1 to 10 years. Misdemeanor hit and run convictions can also carry some jail time and fines up to $5,000. Also, drivers can expect to lose their driving privileges, either temporarily or permanently. Some victims also sue hit and run drivers in civil court, specifically requesting awards for punitive damages to punish the driver’s bad behavior.

Advice for Hit and Run Victims

If you’re involved in a hit and run accident, it can be a very stressful event. Your best chance of catching the driver requires that you remain as calm as possible and gather some important information. Write down anything you remember about the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle. Look around for any possible witnesses and get their contact information. Take detailed notes and photographs of the accident scene to document damage and the circumstances of the incident. Finally, seek medical attention for yourself or anyone else injured and make sure to file a prompt police report. Finally, contact a reputable attorney for assistance.

Getting into a hit and run accident is often confusing because injured parties aren’t sure who to hold accountable. Accident victims might have medical bills, lost wages, or other damages and coverage for these items is in dispute. A personal injury lawyer can help fight for the rights of accident victims, including negotiating with insurance companies. While a hit and run accident is stressful, you shouldn’t have to continue suffering in a continuing struggle to receive compensation.  Contact the Peake & Fowler Law Firm at (803) 788-4370 and one of our Injury Attorneys will help you with your hit & run issue.

Accidents Involving Pedestrians on the Rise

Despite infrastructure, new laws and safety campaigns to protect pedestrians on the roads in South Carolina, the number of pedestrian accidents in the state are on the rise.  Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2013, there were 100 pedestrian fatalities in South Carolina; in 2014 that number increased to 107 pedestrian fatalities and in 2015, to a tragic 123 pedestrian fatalities. Furthermore, in 2009, the number of pedestrian fatalities recorded in the state was significantly lower – 89.

The following considers factors that have contributed to the increase in pedestrian accidents in South Carolina, as well as what you can do if you are a pedestrian who is injured in a crash.

Why Pedestrian Accidents Are Increasing

The specific reasons behind the increase in pedestrian accidents are elusive. However, a number of factors may be to blame.

For example, the incident rates of both distracted driving and distracted walking are increasing. According to Distraction.gov, 431,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in the year 2014 alone. Much of the distraction has been fueled by the use of mobile phones, the prevalence of which has surged in the past half-decade.

In fact, not only are more people driving while distracted by their cellphones, but more people are walking while distracted by their cellphones. According to Ohio State University researchers, thousands of pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms each year for injured related to using a cellphone while walking.

In addition to distracted driving, other factors that may be contributing to pedestrian accidents include a higher prevalence of speeding (there were 54 more speeding-related fatalities in South Carolina in 2015 than there were in 2014).

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Pedestrian Accident in South Carolina

Accidents involving pedestrians often have catastrophic consequences; the pedestrian is typically left with tragic injuries, including but not limited to a head injury or traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones, and internal injuries.

If a distracted or otherwise at-fault driver hits you, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. In some cases, filing an insurance claim makes sense; in other cases, you may need to pursue a lawsuit in order to recover the compensation that you deserve. By filing a civil suit, you can seek damages for all injuries related to your accident, including: pain and suffering; medical expenses; lost wages; permanent disability and disfigurement; loss of earning capacity; and all other economic and noneconomic losses.

What If I Contributed to My Accident?

In some cases, pedestrians are partially at fault for the accidents in which they are involved, often as a result of being distracted and walking into the path of a motor vehicle. However, you can still recover compensation if the driver committed any act of negligence and was partially to blame as well. Per comparative negligence laws in the state, you are allowed to seek damages even if you contributed to your own injuries; recoverable damages will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.

Work With Our Experienced South Carolina Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Our talented South Carolina pedestrian accident attorneys understand what you are going through after a crash and will work hard to prove the negligence of the at-fault driver and get you your full compensation amount. We will conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, work with accident reconstruction experts, and build a strong case. When you have been injured, you deserve the best in legal representation – for a free case consultation contact Peake & Fowler at (803) 788-4370.

Accidents Caused by Pedal Errors

Even the newest drivers know which pedal accelerates the car and which brakes the car. Nevertheless, pedal errors are a common and preventable form of automobile accident. Read on to learn more about how pedal error accidents occur.

Pedal errors describe an incident of mistakenly pressing the accelerator rather than the brake pedal. While this seems like an uncommon event, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an estimated 16,000 accidents resulting from pedal errors occur each year. This number means that, on average, 44 accidents occur each day as a result of the driver confusing the gas for the brake.

Most often, pedal error accidents occur when drivers are traveling at low speeds, such as while driving in stop-and-go traffic or while driving through a parking lot, or when drivers accidentally press both pedals simultaneously. The groups most likely to be involved in these accidents are drivers under age 20 or over age 65. Whereas teen drivers’ brains are still developing, some older adults have begun to lose some of the mental sharpness that would allow them to quickly correct the error of pressing the wrong pedal. Additionally, older drivers may have begun to lose feeling in their extremities, preventing them from sensing which pedal they’re pressing. Older women are four times as likely to be involved in pedal error accidents than any other group.

The NHTSA offers several suggestions to reduce pedal error. First and foremost, do not drive while distracted. Second, always hit the brake in the center of the pedal, so as to ingrain the muscle memory of what it feels like to hit the pedal properly. Third, always wear lightweight, flat-soled shoes, and avoid flip-flops, heels, heavy boots, or other thick-soled shoes. Fourth, take time before getting behind the wheel to adjust the seat and mirrors to the optimal position, so that you can comfortably reach the pedals and see the road before you.

If you have been injured in an accident with a negligent driver, seek experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable legal help in obtaining the compensation you deserve by contacting the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler for a consultation, at 803-788-4370.