Personal Injury Risks at the Beach This Summer

As the days get longer and school lets out, local beaches start to fill up. Between locals and tourists coming from out of state, the South Carolina beaches see a lot of action between May and September. However, nature is inherently dangerous, especially for people who aren’t accustomed to it. Before you hit the beach this summer, it’s important to know about the risks you face and plan ahead.

If you suffer a beach injury because of someone else’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. Learn more now by calling Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370.

Drowning or Near-Drowning Accidents

One of the biggest risks that beachgoers face is drowning. This is true for non-swimmers and strong swimmers alike. While non-swimmers should stay in shallow water and use appropriate safety gear, even strong swimmers can be endangered by sudden changes in weather. Rip currents can strike along shorelines, pulling swimmers out to sea before they can call for help.

This is why it’s important to be aware of water conditions before getting in. Many beaches use a flag system to indicate the risk level and allow swimmers to decide whether or not it’s worth the risk.

If a swimmer is in danger, a lifeguard may have to save them. This is one source of personal injury claims. Negligent lifeguards or those who are inattentive to swimmers can lead to tragedy.

Water Sport Injuries

Water sport injuries are another issue. Waterskiing and windsurfing can put participants at risk of drowning, broken bones, and lacerations. On top of that, water sport accidents can cause participants to suffer traumatic brain injuries. A serious traumatic brain injury could leave a victim comatose, unable to walk, or unable to communicate verbally. It’s important that people who participate in these sports to take proper precautions, only go out on the water when it’s safe to do so, and to avoid pushing their limits without safeguards in place.

Cuts and Lacerations

It’s hard to see what’s in the sand, especially when you’re talking about beaches that see as many people as South Carolina beaches do. Broken bottles, discarded beach toys, and sharp shells can hide just under the surface. A walk on the beach can lead to deep cuts and lacerations that cause damage to tendons and ligaments. Additionally, this type of cut allows tons of bacteria from sand and other debris to get into the body. This puts victims at risk of infection.

It’s always recommended that you wear flip flops when walking around the beach. If you need to feel the sand between your toes, do so in a place where you have already checked for broken glass and other dangers. You don’t want one person’s discarded bottle to put an end to your beach trip.

Poor Weather

Dangerous weather is always a possibility when you’re on the beach. No matter how beautiful it looks when you first hit the beach, you never know when storm clouds are just waiting to come over the horizon.

It’s crucial to keep up with the weather forecast as it changes throughout the day. On top of that, you should listen to warnings and announcements made by lifeguards. If storms are anticipated, they may clear the water and the beach to avoid lightning strikes and other dangers.

Liability depends largely on the specifics of your situation. For example, if you are staying at a hotel with a private section of the beach marked off for hotel guests, they may be liable for warning you of potential weather threats. Unmanned stretches of the beach generally require you to swim at your own risk.

No matter how careful you are this summer, accidents happen. If you suffer injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you may need legal counsel to fight for the compensation you are owed.

Call Peake & Fowler to Discuss Your Legal Options

When summertime fun leads to a broken bone, infected foot, or near-drowning incident, it’s important to connect with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can look at the specifics of your case and determine whether or not you have a valid claim. The team at Peake & Fowler is committed to helping every client fight for a full and fair settlement. Take the first step now by contacting us online or calling us at 803-788-4370.

Can my Personal Injury Claim be Reopened after it was Settled?

Sometimes in life, we make hasty decisions that we end up regretting. One situation when this can happen is while settling a personal injury claim. After getting injured in an accident or event that was caused by another party, finances are usually pretty tight, and injury victims are often anxious to get compensated.

Under these circumstances, it can be pretty tempting to accept an offer from an insurance company that may be for far lower than the claim is really worth. You might not realize it at the time, because the extent of the injuries someone suffers are not always fully known from the outset. As time goes on, however, injury victims sometimes discover that there are further complications that they did not know about previously, lengthening the recovery process and in some cases, causing them to be out of work indefinitely.

It is for these reasons that it is always best to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting any type of settlement offer from an insurance company. By consulting with a seasoned attorney, you will be fully advised of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

Can I Reopen my Personal Injury Case after it Has Been Settled?

In general, the answer to this question is “no”. Under most circumstances, a personal injury claim cannot be reopened after a settlement has been reached or a court judgment has been rendered.

Most settlement agreements include a “release of liability” clause, which stipulates that once the defendant pays the agreed amount, they are released from all future liability related to the claim. This means that you would not be able to sue the plaintiff for additional damages once the claim is settled.

There are some possible exceptions to this rule if certain specific circumstances apply:

  • You Did Not Sign the Release Yet: If you have not signed the release of liability yet, it may be possible to reopen your case and bring it to trial. However, even without a signature, there may have been a verbal settlement agreement that could be interpreted as legally valid. As always, this would depend on the specifics of your case.
  • Another Party Shares Responsibility for the Injury: Some injury cases involve several different parties. For example, in a truck accident, the driver may be directly responsible, but the trucking company that employs the driver might also be liable. Other third parties could share some of the blame as well, such as the shipping company that loaded the truck, the party responsible for maintaining the truck, and the manufacturer or supplier of a faulty vehicle part. If you have settled with one party and signed a release of liability, you might still have an opportunity to file a claim against other parties that were involved.
  • Your Case was Dismissed without Prejudice: If the case went to trial and a judgment was rendered, then it is probably over and done with – unless as mentioned in the previous point there is another party you could go after. However, in the rare instance that a judge dismissed your case without prejudice, you may have an opportunity to refile it.
  • You Received Poor Legal Advice: This is a difficult avenue to pursue, but it is worth mentioning. If you agreed to an insufficient settlement amount based on faulty legal advice you received from the attorney handling your case, you could have grounds for a professional malpractice claim against that attorney.

Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations

One very important thing you must be mindful of if you are wondering whether or not your personal injury claim can be reopened is the statute of limitations in the state in which your claim would be filed. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years from the date of the injury. If you fail to file within this time limit, your case will most likely be thrown out of court, regardless of any of the other factors that have been mentioned.

Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer

In the majority of cases, reopening a personal injury claim after it has been settled or a judgment has been rendered is not a viable option. However, there are instances when it can be done. Whatever your circumstances, it is always best to have your case reviewed by a reputable attorney. In South Carolina, contact Peake and Fowler at 803-788-4370 or message us online for a free, no obligation consultation. We look forward to serving you!

Should I Be in a Hurry to Return to Work after an Injury?

When someone is out of work because of an injury or occupational illness, they usually want to get back to work as soon as possible. Although it is nice to collect workers’ compensation benefits when you are out, going back to work means getting a full paycheck again. For many people, returning to work also means getting back into their social circle and essentially resuming a normal life again.

You are probably not the only one who is anxious for you to get back to work, your employer probably is as well. Most employers want to get their injured employees back to work ASAP, and this is especially true in a tight labor market like the one we are in right now.

As much as you and your employer may want you to get back on the job, it may not be in your best interests to return to work quickly. When you have suffered a work-related injury, you need adequate time to recover and get back to full strength. If you try to come back too early and you are physically unable to handle your work, you could end up getting re-injured and making your condition worse. You could even end up with a permanent disability and the inability to return to your job at all.

This type of situation could also put your workers’ compensation benefits in jeopardy. Keep in mind that you have a duty to mitigate the effects of your injury by seeking appropriate medical care, following the advice of your doctor, and taking the prescribed amount of time necessary to make a full recovery or to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Coming back to work too soon and aggravating your condition would most likely be looked at very unfavorably by the workers’ comp insurer.

When Should I Come Back to Work after an Injury?

You should only come back to work when you are completely healed from your injury and your doctor has cleared you to return. When you are out of work and collecting workers’ compensation, your generally required to see your doctor at regular intervals. During each visit, your doctor will normally provide notations updating your work status. Eventually, you might be cleared to return to work either with or without restrictions.

With restrictions means you still have some physical limitations on which types of jobs you can perform. For example, the doctor may clear you for light duty (e.g., no heavy lifting) or seated work only. Without restrictions indicates that the doctor believes you are physically able to perform all the functions of your job.

It is important to note that once you have been cleared by the doctor to go back to work in some capacity, it is your responsibility to inform your employer right away, and you are supposed to be back on the job on the “return to work” date your doctor gives you. If you do not agree with your doctor’s evaluation and you do not think you can come back to work yet, you will need to appeal their directive.

Pay close attention to your doctor’s notations with each visit, because it has happened that someone is cleared to return to work on paper, but they are not told this verbally. Ask your doctor about this after each visit to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

What if My Employer is Threatening my Job if I Don’t Come Back?

If you are feeling any kind of pressure from your employer to come back to work before you are physically able, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away. You should never come back to work before a doctor has medically cleared you to do so, and you should never feel pressured to persuade a doctor to clear you before you are fully healed.

An employer is not allowed to fire an employee strictly for filing a workers’ comp claim or for not coming back to work before they have been medically cleared to do so. All that said, employers are also generally not required to hold employee’s job open indefinitely – unless there is a specific employment contract that states otherwise. Because there is a lot of gray area with these types of cases, you will need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully or your rights and interests.

Contact Peake & Fowler for Assistance

If you need any type of help with a workplace injury and/or workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina, call the experienced attorneys at Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.

When a Workplace Accident Falls Outside of Workers’ Compensation

When you suffer an injury or illness at work, the first recourse is usually to file a workers’ compensation claim to pay for your medical expenses, time missed from work, disability benefits, and related expenses. In South Carolina, almost all companies that have four or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance.

If you work for a company that is covered by workers’ comp and you suffer a work-related injury, you are eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault for the incident. There are a few exceptions to this, such as injuries caused by:

  • The use of alcohol or illegal drugs;
  • The commission of a serious crime;
  • Intentionally violating a workplace policy;
  • Intentionally trying to do yourself or someone else harm.

In exchange for “no-fault” coverage, South Carolina employees are generally barred from bringing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.

When Would a Workplace Accident Fall Outside of the Workers’ Compensation System?

Workers’ comp is a complex and confusing system. Sometimes, workers are denied benefits even if their injury or illness was not the result of one of the aforementioned exceptions. In some cases, employers deny benefits because, for whatever reason, they mistakenly believe the employee is ineligible. This can be very frustrating for employees who have a right to compensation but have a hard time navigating the complexities involved with pursuing a workers’ comp claim.

There are other cases in which a workplace incident may not fall under the purview of a workers’ compensation claim. Here are some examples:

Your Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance: As mentioned earlier, employers in South Carolina who have less than four employees are not required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are a few other types of employees whose employer may not have workers’ comp benefits available. These include:

  • Agricultural workers;
  • Railroad or railway express workers;
  • Realtors paid on commission;
  • Textile Hall Corporation workers; and
  • Employers whose payroll is under $3,000.

The Injury Occurred Outside of Work: Some injuries happen while you are commuting to and from work, on your lunch break, or traveling during the work day or work week. This is a gray area in which some incidents may be covered while others may not. For example, if you have an automobile accident while you are driving straight home from work, that is probably not covered. On the other hand, if you were injured while running an errand for your boss, that might be covered.

The Injury Was Caused by a Third Party: There are some instances in which the party responsible for the injury or illness is someone other than the employer or employee. Examples may include:

  • Accidents caused by a subcontractor who is working nearby the employee (this scenario is common in the construction industry);
  • Automobile accidents in a company vehicle when the individual who caused the accident is a liable third party;
  • Accidents caused by defective machinery, equipment, and other faulty products;
  • Workplace illnesses caused by a toxic substance made by a third party; and
  • Injuries caused by a co-worker through willful or wanton acts or gross negligence (ex: co-worker assault).

Bringing a Lawsuit Against your Employer or a Third Party

If you experienced a work-related illness or injury and your employer does not carry workers’ compensation coverage or the injury was caused by a third party, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the party that was responsible. If you are successful with your personal injury action, you may be able to secure damages above and beyond what might be available through workers’ comp.

In South Carolina, you are generally allowed to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a third party while simultaneously pursuing a workers’ comp claim through your employer. This would come into play if you suffered a work-related injury that qualifies you for workers’ comp benefits, but the injury was the fault of a third party. This could get complicated, however, and it is best to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that everything is done properly, and you don’t do anything to jeopardize your benefits.

At Peake & Fowler, we have been standing up for the rights of South Carolina workers since 2000. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the complexities of both workers’ compensation and personal injury law, and how the two areas often converge during workplace injury cases. We work closely with our clients and explore every potential legal avenue to ensure they are fully compensated for their injuries. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 to schedule a free consultation. You may also send us a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.

How to Avoid Accidents with School Buses

School bus accidents are some of the most severe and deadly that occur on South Carolina roadways. The sheer size of the vehicle and the fact that they are usually transporting numerous children as passengers increases the likelihood of serious injuries resulting from a bus crash. School bus crashes are sometimes the fault of the bus drivers, but at other times, drivers of private vehicles are the ones at fault.

Unfortunately, bus accidents occur far more often than they should. And with summer coming to a close and kids going back to school, we are once again entering the season of heavy school bus traffic. This is a good time for us to focus on what we can do as drivers who share the road with school buses to ensure that we all stay safe.

Here are five important tips to follow to avoid accidents with school buses:

  1. Be Aware of Children Near Bus Stops

When you pass by kids gathered at a bus stop, you can be sure that the school bus is not far away. It could be right behind you, or it could turn in front of you from a different direction. Either way, be prepared for the possibility of having to stop and wait for kids to get on the bus. On a related note, when children are waiting for the bus, you never know when one might dash out into the street. Also, be mindful and alert for children who might be arriving late to the bus stop. These kids are often so focused on catching the bus, they do not pay attention to other traffic on the road.

  1. Slow Down when You are Behind a Bus

School buses travel at slower speeds than other vehicles. When we are driving to work in the morning or home in the evening, we are sometimes in a hurry. However, one of the best ways to avoid accidents with school buses is to accept the fact that you are going to need to drive slower for a while. It is best to just adopt the mindset that when there is a bus in front of you, it is similar to being in slow traffic on the highway. There is nothing you can do about it, so you might as well just slow down and relax.

  1. Give the Bus Plenty of Space

As mentioned earlier, school buses are large vehicles often with many passengers who are minors. For this reason, it is good to give them at least a car length of space on the road. Buses need that space, because they often make sudden stops to let children on and off. Keep in mind also that school buses are required to come to a complete stop at railroad crossings, so if you are approaching railroad tracks, be prepared for this.

  1. Pay Attention to Bus Signals and What they Mean

Be aware of the signals a school bus makes and what these signals mean. Turn signals are self-explanatory but be sure to slow down and give the bus plenty of space when they signal that they are going to make a turn. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and pick up or drop off children. When you see yellow lights, you should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the bus has already stopped and kids are loading or unloading. Other motorists must stop until the extended stop arm is lowered, and the bus begins moving again.

  1. Follow the South Carolina S.A.V.E. Law

South Carolina’s Stop Arm Violation Education-Enforcement (S.A.V.E.) law is designed to catch more motorists who illegally pass buses while their stop sign and/or extended arm is raised. More surveillance cameras have been installed in school zones, increasing the chances of violators being caught. Violating the S.A.V.E. law is not only dangerous, it can also be expensive. Penalties start at $500 for first-time violations and can go up to $2,000 for multiple offenses.

When You Do Everything Right and Still Get in a School Bus Accident

Accidents with school buses can happen even when motorists follow all the rules. This can occur because of recklessness or negligence on the part of the school bus driver, mechanical issues, auto part defects, and other factors. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a school bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation. To understand your rights and options, it is important to consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our skilled auto accident attorneys, contact us today at 803-998-2412.


Do Pedestrian Accidents Increase in Summer?

As the temperatures warm up, more people decide to get outside, which poses an increased risk of accidents. Each year, more than 5,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. and over 125,000 injured. In South Carolina alone, there are more than 1,000 pedestrian collision accidents each year. Unfortunately, these tragedies increase in the summer months.

Common Risks South Carolina Residents Face

The severity and types of risks that people face walking along South Carolina roadways can depend on a variety of factors according to the state’s Department of Public Safety. In 2016 alone, most pedestrian accidents occurred on secondary roads and nearly half took place between 3:00 p.m. and midnight.

More males (65%) were injured than females, and the most prominent age group involved in accidents was ages 25-34. A majority (62.9%) of cases involved a pedestrian walking, cycling, or playing. There are other groups of people, however, that face risks as well.

Older adults and children are particularly susceptible to pedestrian accidents and injuries. Older adults may lack mobility and have impaired senses. Children, when not supervised, don’t understand the risks associated with playing near busy roads.

What is the Driver’s Responsibility?

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people on the road because they don’ t have the benefit of a motor vehicle for protection. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in an accident than the occupant of a motor vehicle.

Drivers of cars and trucks have a duty to operate their equipment safely and not harm others. When they fail in their duty and harm someone else, they could be held responsible for any preventable accident and injuries to pedestrians. Some of the responsibilities that drivers in South Carolina have include:

  • Attentive Driving. Drivers should avoid all distractions when driving since this is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes.
  • Safe Speed. Drivers must obey all posted speed limits and drive only at speeds that are safe for conditions – construction, heavy traffic, adverse weather.
  • Crossing. Drivers must be particularly cautious around intersections, crosswalks, and other signals, watching for pedestrians and reducing speed as appropriate.
  • Turn Signals. A driver should activate their turn signal at least 100 feet before a turn to prevent pedestrians from crossing under unsafe conditions.
  • DUI. Drivers should never get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Pedestrian’s Responsibility

Pedestrians often have the right of way, but they still have some responsibilities under South Carolina law. If you are pedestrian, you must:

  • Use a sidewalk, if one is present, when pushing a stroller, using an assistive device, or traveling on rollerblades or a skateboard.
  • Travel on the shoulder of the road if no sidewalk is present
  • Travel on the left side of the road if no shoulder or sidewalk is present
  • Use crosswalks when present and wait for crossing signals
  • Yield to oncoming traffic if crossing in an area that does not have a crosswalk

Injured in a South Carolina Pedestrian Accident?

Summertime brings its own set of unique risks on South Carolina’s roads. There is an influx of out of state drivers on summer vacation as well as more pedestrians taking advantage of the favorable weather. When disaster strikes, the results can be devastating to you and your loved ones.

At Peake & Fowler, our South Carolina pedestrian accident lawyers advocate for the rights of victims of these tragedies. Our firm has the tools and resources to help injured pedestrians and their families fully understand their options and fight for the compensation they deserve.

Contact our Columbia office now at 800-946-9461 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

5 Common Construction Accidents

Most employers in South Carolina are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance to cover expenses related to work-related injuries and illnesses. Construction companies are not exempt from this requirement, and this is a good thing because construction is a dangerous industry.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 1,000 construction workers lose their lives each year on the job. Of all workplace fatalities in a single year, one in five takes place in a construction zone.

Safety is supposed to be a priority on construction sites, but some companies are lax with safety standards or cut corners to try to boost their bottom line results. There are many ways hazards exist on a construction site that can lead to injury or even death. Here are just five of the most typical ways that construction workers fall victim to these tragic events.

  1. Fall Injuries

Falls are the most common cause of construction accident injuries. These tragedies impact thousands of construction workers each year, and some lead to death. A fall can take place on the same level, where a worker either slips or trips and falls over equipment or debris or on a slippery or wet surface.

Fall accidents can also take place from another level, and these can lead to much more serious injuries. Each day construction workers climb onto roofs, beams, ladders, and scaffolds. Without the use of safety harnesses, there is a high risk of falls.

  1. Equipment Injuries

Construction sites are loud environments because there are usually many pieces of equipment operating at once. This presents a significant hazard to workers. An equipment injury can happen in several ways.

Failure to use safety guards on machinery can lead to injury, as can attempting repairs while a machine is still “on.” A construction worker can also be injured by moving heavy equipment, motor vehicles, or a power tool that malfunctions due to a defect.

  1. Fires and Explosions

There are enough electrical items and flammable materials on construction sites that fire and explosions are common occurrences. A frayed electrical cord or other poor electrical safety practices can lead to a fire, which can result in devastating injuries and fatalities. Explosions can result from gas leaks as well as the mixture of dangerous chemicals.

  1. Falling Objects

Construction workers are supposed to wear hard hats because of the high risk of falling objects. A worker on another level could drop a heavy tool, or a stack of equipment could become dislodged and fall, leading to a serious head, neck, or back injury.

It is also possible for an entire structure to fall if it is not properly supported. This can trap construction workers underneath debris and lead to serious crushing injuries.

  1. Repetitive Injuries

Construction is strenuous and repetitive work. It’s not uncommon for a construction worker to suffer from a variety of repetitive motion or exposure injuries. These could include carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains, and distress due to extreme cold or heat exposure.

These are not the only common construction accidents. Other serious and frequent causes of construction accidents can include trench collapses, electrocution, violence, and chemical exposure.

What You Should Know If You Have a South Carolina Construction Injury

Worker’s compensation laws in South Carolina are no-fault, meaning you are entitled to benefits if you were injured on the job. There are only a few exceptions, such as being intoxicated or committing fraud, which would bar you from collecting benefits.

If you were injured at work, whether it was due to one of these injuries or something else, you are entitled to receive payment for your medical expenses, lost time from work, and permanent impairment. A denial of any of the benefits you are due is not the last word in your case, and you have the right to speak with a qualified South Carolina worker’s compensation attorney about your options.

Consult with an Experienced South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Lawyer

Worker’s compensation law can be complex, and your employer or an insurance company representative may try to mislead you about your rights. Instead, protect your access to these valuable benefits by speaking with a qualified workplace injury attorney.

At Peake & Fowler, our Columbia injury attorneys will put their more than 60 years of combined experience to work for you. Contact us now at 800-946-9461 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse

Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or other care facility is difficult enough. Whether it is a spouse, parent, or another close relative, you want them to have the most compassionate and skilled care possible.

Quality elder care in the U.S. may be stretched thin as a growing percentage of the population is now over the age of 65, and many aging adults require care. As many as 5 million older Americans experience abuse each year, and much of this takes place in nursing homes.

In South Carolina, there are 188 registered nursing homes, and 48 of those facilities have just a one or two-star rating from Medicaid. This means that they have been rated sub-par by health inspectors. Even if the facility that you choose seems reputable, there could be problems. Here are the four most common forms of nursing home abuse.

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

Likely the most easily detectable form of mistreatment of the elderly, physical abuse results from intentional actions by nursing home staff. This harm may result from an elderly patient being slapped, shaken, hit, kicked or forcefully grabbed by a staff member. Abuse can also occur when a patient is unnecessarily physically restrained.

Some of the signs of nursing home physical abuse include unexplained cuts, scratches, bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. A nursing home that either refuses to give a patient prescribed medication or administers medication that is not prescribed could also be guilty of physical abuse.

Nursing Home Emotional Abuse

Just as harmful as physical abuse but more difficult to detect is the emotional abuse that takes place in a nursing home. Some of the treatment that takes place in nursing homes can be psychologically harmful to loved ones, and this treatment can come in many forms. Patients may be called names, taunted, criticized, belittled, or simply ignored.

When a patient has experienced mental anguish, this can also lead to physical ailments. They may stop eating, lose sleep, or have other physical conditions worsen. Some common signs of emotional abuse in nursing home residents include a patient being withdrawn, depressed, or increasingly agitated.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

It may seem unthinkable, but sexual abuse in nursing homes does occur. When elderly patients are isolated from loved ones, they can become the targets of sexual predators. A nursing home employee or caregiver who initiates unwanted or uninvited physical contact that is sexual in nature is committing sexual abuse.

Common types of sexual abuse in nursing homes include unwanted touching, sexual battery and assault, forced nudity, and rape. When this devastating activity is occurring, the patient may show signs of anxiety, depression, and fear around certain caregivers. They may also have physical signs that include difficulty walking or sitting, STDs and infections, bruising, and unexplained vaginal bleeding.

Financial Exploitation and Abuse

When a loved one enters a nursing home, you expect that caregivers will respect their privacy and adhere to the law. This doesn’t always happen. Some nursing home employees view these patients as a source of financial gain. Financial abuse occurs when a staff member steals items from a patient’s room or commits fraud by either taking the patient’s identity or gaining access to their financial resources.

Some of the common types of financial abuse include a caregiver’s theft of bank account or credit card funds, unwanted donations to charities, and even healthcare fraud. Loved ones should be suspicious if there have been unexpected withdrawals or unpaid bills, changes to wills or powers of attorney, or a disappearance of money or personal property.

Help for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

It can be devastating to trust a facility to care for your loved one and then find out that they have violated that trust. If you believe that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you have several remedies. You should not hesitate to contact the authorities if your loved one is in danger. You may also be able to make a claim for damages against a negligent facility.

At Peake & Fowler, we represent the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect throughout South Carolina. Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will protect your rights and pursue the full and fair compensation your family deserves. Contact us now at 803-788-4370 or online to schedule a free consultation.

How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable people on or near our nation’s roadways. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 150,000 people are treated in emergency rooms, and nearly 5,000 people are killed due to pedestrian accidents each year.

People of every age and background are at risk of becoming involved in one of these tragic events, but some people face a higher risk than others. The CDC states that teens and young adults (ages 15-29) are more likely to be injured as pedestrians, and people who have been drinking are more likely to be killed. Young children and the elderly also face significant risks, where one-fifth of all traffic fatalities among children aged 14 and under are pedestrian accidents.

Leading Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Sidewalks, bike paths, and designated walking areas are meant to keep pedestrians and drivers safe, as are the rules of the road. Unfortunately, when the paths of a pedestrian and a motor vehicle cross, the results can be devastating. Some of the common reasons that these accidents occur include:

  • Distracted or inattentive driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Speeding through a residential area
  • Recklessly driving through a crosswalk
  • Failing to follow other traffic laws

Whether you are a driver or someone who is an occasional pedestrian, the risks of these accidents are too great not to take some precautions. Here are some safety tips for drivers and pedestrians to avoid these tragic events.

Tips for Drivers to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

A South Carolina driver must exercise a reasonable degree of care around pedestrians to keep them free from harm. As a driver, you can avoid these terrible accidents with the following tips:

  • Always keep an eye out for pedestrians.
  • Slow down when approaching a crosswalk, school zone, intersection, or other area that is known to have pedestrians.
  • Back out of parking spaces slowly and cautiously.
  • Avoid any distractions while driving.
  • Follow the rules of the road always.
  • Keep your windshield and mirrors clean so that you have an unobstructed view of your surroundings.
  • Make eye contact with pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections to let them know they are visible.

Tips for Pedestrians to Reduce Accidents

If you are a pedestrian in South Carolina, you often have the right-of-way but are still required to follow some rules. In short, you have a duty to protect your own safety, which means that you should avoid doing anything that is reckless or that contributes to the accident or the severity of your injuries. Because South Caroline is a comparative negligence state, failing to take precautions could impact your ability to collect damages after a pedestrian accident.

The ways that you can avoid these potentially deadly accidents as a pedestrian include:

  • Always use a sidewalk when there is one available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, you should walk facing oncoming traffic.
  • Use crosswalks when you cross the road, even if you must go out of your way to find one.
  • When you are crossing the street, avoid making unpredictable movements.
  • When possible, make yourself visible to motorists with bright clothing or by using a light in poor weather or at night.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones and headphones that will prevent you from seeing or hearing approaching vehicles.
  • Avoid walking alone if you’ve been drinking as your judgment could be impaired.
  • Stay alert for vehicles that aren’t following the rules or that don’t see you.

What to Do If You’ve Been Struck by a Vehicle in South Carolina

If you or someone you care about has been involved in a pedestrian accident, there is a chance that severe injuries and damages are now your reality. The human body is no match for a motor vehicle or commercial truck, so many pedestrian accidents result in severe injuries and sometimes death.

Most pedestrian accidents come down to the fault of a careless or reckless driver, so you may be able to collect damages from the negligent party. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented the interests of people just like you, who are hurting and need a strong legal advocate.

Contact our Columbia personal injury attorneys now at 803-788-4370 or reach us online to discuss your options for collecting full and fair compensation for your losses.

5 Ways to Respect Motorcycles on the Road

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than passenger vehicles on the road, and more susceptible to severe injury, and even fatalities. Motorcycle accidents cost billions of dollars each year in medical costs, property damage, lost productivity, pain and suffering, and legal expenses.

The NHTSA reports that nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle crashes in 2015, which was an 8 percent increase from the prior year. Motorcyclists account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, but these vehicles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in this country.

Risks Faced by Motorcycle Riders

There is a common misconception that motorcyclists are aggressive drivers who weave in and out of traffic and create hazardous conditions. In the main, this is false. In two-thirds of motorcycle crashes that involve another vehicle, the driver of that other vehicle had caused the accident by violating the motorcyclist’s right of way.

Motorcycle riders face some unique challenges both on the road and after an accident that make this enjoyable activity a greater risk than necessary. A motorcycle is less visible than other vehicles, which is the primary cause of most accidents. Road hazards are another concern because they can have a severe impact on these two or three-wheeled vehicles.

Once an accident does occur, many motorcyclists are faced with common biases from insurance companies and the court system. Common beliefs that motorcycles are either all driven recklessly and too fast or operated by “bad people” can taint a personal injury case.

Whether you are a motorcycle owner and operator or wish to safeguard those who are, there are several ways that you can respect other motorcycles on the road and avoid a serious accident.

  1. Always Check Your Blind Spots. Motorcycles take up less space on the road than a car or truck, which means that they are less visible to other drivers. One of the primary reasons for motorcycle accidents is another driver’s failure to see the motorcyclist in their blind spot. Never rely on just your mirrors and instead turn your head to check blind spots before changing lanes or merging.
  2. Use Caution When Passing. You can legally pass a motorcycle in the same manner that you would another car or truck, but there are some dangers. The assumption is that you are in an area that allows passing. The threat that exists is that a gust of wind that is created by your passing activity could create instability for the motorcyclist and even blow them off the roadway. Be sure to signal well in advance of your intention to pass and wait several car lengths before moving back into the original lane.
  3. Intersections are Danger Zones. Intersections are one of the top locations of accidents involving motorcycles. Several types of vehicles can meet at an intersection, and one that lacks visibility could get lost in the mix. Always follow the rules of the road and look twice before proceeding through an intersection.
  4. Stay in Your Lane. A motorcyclist has a legal right to their own lane, so there is no reason that you should ever encroach on their space. Motorcycles may be small, but they need plenty of room to maneuver and stop. If you are too close to a motorcycle on the road, you risk a dangerous and potentially deadly accident.
  5. Look Several Times Before Turning. Many types of accidents can occur when one or another vehicle decides to make a turn. Before you make a left-hand turn always take extra time to search the area for approaching vehicles. Motorcycles didn’t have self-canceling turn signals as standard equipment until the late 1970’s, so don’t trust these signals as the only indication that someone is or isn’t making a maneuver.

Speak with a Columbia Auto and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, there’s a good chance that someone has been seriously injured. Whether you were the motorcyclist or the driver of another vehicle, understanding your rights in these situations is vital.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. At Peake & Fowler, our Columbia personal injury attorneys have experience helping the victims of South Carolina vehicle accidents collect the damages they need and deserve. Contact our office now at (800) 946-9461 or reach us online for a free consultation to discuss your options.