Injury on a South Carolina Playground - Contact Peake & Fowler

Safety Issues Are Causing These Common Playground Injuries in South Carolina

When we take our children to a public park or drop them off at school, we expect them to be safe. Unfortunately, not all facilities can guarantee that your child will come away free from harm. In fact, playground injuries are on the rise and recreation safety has become a hot-button issue over the past few years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 200,000 children under the age of 15 receive treatment in this country’s emergency rooms annually for playground-related injuries. Between 2001 and 2008, there were more than 40 deaths associated with playground equipment, with the average age of children in these cases being six years old. Of the children who lost their lives, 68% were due to strangulation, and 15% died from falls.

The Most Common Playground Injuries

When a child is injured on a playground, the injuries can range from the mild to the severe. A recent study found that there is a serious risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children from playground accidents and that the risk has increased. Between 2001 and 2013, the risk of a TBI in playground accidents went from 23 per 100,000 to 48 per 100,000 children. These concussion injuries are most often caused by falls from monkey bars (34%) and swings (24%).

One possibility for the spike in numbers is the heightened awareness about TBIs among parents and school administrators. This concern isn’t without merit. While many children with a minor TBI are treated at the emergency room or a physician’s office and released, there could be long-term effects from the injury. Even a mild TBI could have lasting consequences for a child’s physical, behavioral, and cognitive health.

Other common playground injuries include:

  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Contusions and abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Internal organ injuries

Children ages 5-9 are the most likely to be injured on a playground, followed by their younger counterparts ages 0-4. Boys are slightly more likely than girls to be injured on playgrounds in all age classes.

What Causes These Dangerous Playground Injuries?

Most (75%) playground injuries and deaths occur on public playgrounds, which could be one that is located in a park or at a public school. The overriding cause of playground injuries is the lack of supervision, which accounts for 40% of all cases. Even in schools, it is estimated that children are left unsupervised on playgrounds more than one-third of the time and over one-fifth of the time in public parks.

When children fall from a height off playground equipment, one factor that contributes to injuries is the absence of an impact-absorbing surface. Only about 25% of all public playgrounds have the proper surfacing around stationary objects to absorb the impacts of falls.

Who is Liable for Playground Injuries?

If your child has been injured in a playground injury, there are several parties that could be held responsible. If the playground is at a public school or park, the city or municipality that is tasked with the playground’s maintenance could be found negligent. Playground equipment must be checked on a routine basis for the replacement of worn out surfaces, loose bolts, and brittle parts that are exposed to the elements.

Playground injuries could also be the result of poor design and construction. In these cases, the company that designed or constructed the playground might be at fault for defects that led to serious injuries. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and some states now have standards for the safe design and construction of playgrounds and their equipment.

As a parent, you want to know that every playground your child sets foot on is safe. Unfortunately, there are some subtle dangers that that are difficult to detect and parents aren’t always in control of what happens inside a school or daycare facility. If your child has been injured in a playground accident in South Carolina, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a products liability or premises liability case. Our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys will also help you gather evidence to prove a case for the award of the compensation you deserve. Contact Peake & Fowler at (803) 788-4370 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at your convenience.

When Should You Hire A South Carolina Injury Attorney - Peake & Fowler

When Should I Hire a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney?

A personal injury case could cover a wide variety of situations. For example, you might have been injured in a car accident, become hurt from using a company’s products, or been bitten by someone’s dog. All of these are considered personal injury, and you might be tempted to handle your own case depending on the circumstances and severity of the damages. In some cases, however, it makes more sense to hire a South Carolina personal injury attorney to protect your rights and pursue compensation. If you are undecided about what direction to take, consider these questions and your answers before you make your final choice.

How Serious Were Your Injuries?

If you only suffered minor scrapes from your accident, had no property damage, and didn’t miss any time from work, there’s a good chance that you won’t need a personal injury attorney. However, anything more severe and you will probably benefit from legal representation. If you were forced to seek medical treatment, there is a chance that you could have unpaid medical bills and the need for future care. Some injuries even result in long periods of lost wages and permanent impairment, which can signify substantial damages in a personal injury case. When these factors are present, you should seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Was Your Injury Caused by Someone Else?

If your injury was caused or even potentially caused by the negligence of another party, it’s important that you consult with a South Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Few parties admit fault in the case of a serious accident, and you may be entitled to legal remedies and damages that aren’t immediately obvious. If your case isn’t strong from the start, you want a skilled South Carolina personal injury attorney in your corner that can immediately begin working to investigate your accident and gather evidence to prove your case.

Are Insurance Company Representatives Calling You?

Most accidents of any type are going to involve insurance companies. Those companies have adjusters or claims representatives on staff that investigate claims and work to reduce the company’s loss payouts. While some of the adjusters may seem nice, they aren’t working in your best interests. If these adjusters are contacting you, asking for a recorded statement about the accident, or requesting that you sign a medical records release, you should consider consulting with a personal injury attorney about your case.

When an insurance company takes your recorded statement or asks you for a blanket medical release, they are looking for several things. First, they are attempting to get you to admit some level of fault in the accident. Second, they will look through your past medical records with the goal of blaming your current injuries on a pre-existing condition. Your best strategy is to speak with a South Carolina personal injury attorney before dealing with insurance company representatives.

Has Your Claim Been Denied or Have You Been Given a Low Settlement Offer?

Even if you believe that the issue of fault is clear in your case, don’t be surprised if an insurance company finds a reason to deny your claim. These companies are in the business of making money, so they try to avoid paying out large claims and settlements whenever possible. If you have a legitimate case, but the company sees that you aren’t represented by counsel, they might try to issue a denial and hope that you’ll give up.

Let’s assume that your claim is accepted because there was just no way for the insurance company to issue a denial. In this case, you might find that the insurance company is eager to settle your case for much less than it is worth. This is another red flag that should send you directly to the office of a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, who will make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Do You Understand South Carolina Laws and the Settlement Process?

Personal injury cases can be complicated and confusing matters. Not only will you need to understand your state’s laws, but you’ll also require a good grasp of the settlement process as well as some strong negotiation skills to achieve a fair settlement. If you aren’t confident in your abilities in these areas, it’s best to consult with an expert in personal injury cases.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the offices of Peake & Fowler to discuss your case. Call our office today at (803) 788-4370 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our services and how we can help you seek recovery.

 

Pool Safety & Children - Peake & Fowler

Pool Safety and Children in South Carolina

Pools are a wonderful way to beat the South Carolina heat, spending an afternoon splashing and playing, providing the kids – and you – with a relatively inexpensive and easy source of entertainment.

But pools, as fun as they are, can be a serious danger. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 2005 to 2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings per year that were not boating related.About 20 percent of those who died in drowning accidents were children under the age of 14. The CDC further reports that for every one child who dies in a drowning accident, an additional five receive emergency room care for near-drowning related injuries.

Drowning Injuries in South Carolina

According to the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, drowning is the number one cause of injury related deaths amongst children ages one to four. In South Carolina, data from 2000 to 2010 shows that over this time period, 223 children and teens died from drowning incidents.

When drowning injuries are not fatal, they can have serious long-term consequences. The CDC data cited above provides information about traumatic brain injuries caused by a lack of oxygen from a near-drowning experience. Nonfatal drownings can cause brain damage that is disabling, resulting in permanent memory and concentration problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning, such as speech or cognition.

Causes of Pool Accidents and Drowning/Near-Drownings

Pool accidents are not limited to drowning or near drowning incidents. Other types of pool accidents that can cause catastrophic injury or death include:

  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Electrocutions;
  • Diving accident injuries (traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures); and
  • Swimming pool disembowelment from swimming pool drains.

Most of these accidents are completely preventable, and occur because of a lack of parental/adult supervision, running or horse play on slippery and dangerous surfaces, objects and debris making walking surfaces dangerous, wiring near water or use or electric-powered devices near water, diving or jumping into pools, uncovered swimming pool drains, inability to swim, and a lack of use of flotation devices.

How to Prevent Pool Accidents and Injuries Involving Children

As a parent of a child in South Carolina, there is likely nothing more worrisome to you than the idea of your child being significantly injured; the idea of your child drowning is surely horrific. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the risk of your child being injured at the swimming pool, including:

  • Talking to your child about safe swimming practices, including never entering a pool alone or when an adult is not present;
  • Talking to your child about the dangers of running around pools, engaging in horseplay, or diving head-first into shallow waters;
  • Supervising your child at all times – the best way to prevent a drowning-related injury or death is to always know where your child is and whether or not they are safe in the pool;
  • Signing your child up for swim lessons;
  • Putting a barrier around a home pool to keep your child, and other children, out when you’re not around;
  • Making sure your home pool’s drain is protected with up-to-date safety features;
  • Using child-appropriate flotation devices, including approved life vests; and
  • Learning CPR, which may save your child’s life in the event of a near death incident caused by drowning.

What to Do if Your Child is Injured at the Pool

At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys sincerely hope that you never become one of the parents that has to cope with losing a child to a pool-related injury, or a parent whose child is seriously harmed during what was supposed to be a fun day in the sun.

If your child is injured, we can assure you that we will advocate for you to help you seek compensation for losses your family has suffered. We can build a case against the manufacturer of a pool drain, a property owner, or another liable party if your child’s pool injury would not have occurred but for the negligence of another. If you have questions or if your child is harmed, please contact us today at (803) 788-4370 to schedule your free consultation.

 

 

Causes of South Carolina Truck Accidents

Causes of South Carolina Truck Accidents

Commercial vehicles and 18-wheelers are a common sight on South Carolina roadways and are responsible for transporting everything from food, produce, and livestock to hazardous materials and toxic chemicals. These vehicles, which can weigh 20 times more than the average car without any permits for oversized weight, are crucial for our economy, but are inherently dangerous. In fact, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that in a single year, there were a total of 41 fatal crashes involving tractor trailers, resulting in 47 deaths.

Tractor trailer and semi-truck accidents are almost always preventable. The following considers some of the top causes of truck accidents in our state– if you are involved in a commercial truck crash, contact the experienced South Carolina truck accident attorneys at Peake & Fowler.

Truck Driver Errors

In a Large Truck Crash Causation Study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver error was a leading cause of truck crashes. Driver error was the “critical reason” for the crash in 87 percent of crashes recorded. The FMCSA further categorized driver error into four subcategories of crash causes, including:

  • Non-performance – falling asleep behind the wheel or suffering from serious physical impairment;
  • Recognition – driving while distracted or inattentive, or failing to observe and assess driving conditions;
  • Decision – driving too fast for conditions, following another driving too closely, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, etc.; and
  • Performance – Overcompensating to correct an error, panicking, or exercising poor control of the vehicle.

In addition to the above, making illegal maneuvers, being unfamiliar with the roadway, using over-the-counter drugs, or using illegal drugs or alcohol were also reported causes of truck accidents by the FMCSA. It should be noted that both truck drivers and the drivers of standard passenger cars may be to blame for negligent behavior that causes a collision.

Vehicle Problems

Another cause of truck accidents in South Carolina are vehicle problems. Vehicles problems may include defects with the vehicle itself, such as defective brakes or tires, or cargo problems (improperly loading of cargo or improper securement) that leads to cargo shifts. Vehicle problems contribute to many truck accidents, and are almost always avoidable. Those who may be held liable for a vehicle problem could include the trucking company for failing to maintain the truck, a repair company for failing to properly fix a truck defect, the manufacturer of the truck or defective part, or a shipper or loader of cargo. Often times, a vehicle problem leads to a crash that the truck driver, even when acting diligently and responsibly, cannot mitigate.

Environmental Hazards

Sometimes, neither the driver nor the vehicle (or rather, the party who is responsible for a defect with the vehicle) are to blame for a truck accident. The cause of the accident may be a problem with the environment. For example, wet or slippery roadways, animals or debris in the road, or other roadway problems, such as potholes or inadequate/incorrect signage may cause a truck accident. In some cases, there be no one to blame – for example, an animal darting into the road is impossible to predict. In other cases, a company or government entity may be responsible. For example, if a dangerous road surface condition contributes to the accident, and the party responsible for maintaining the roads knew of the condition yet failed to repair it in a reasonable amount of time, they may be held liable.

Who Is Liable for My Truck Accident?

Driver errors, vehicle problems, and environmental hazards are the top three causes of truck accidents in South Carolina. While truck accidents are less common than are accidents involving standard passenger cars, they do happen, and can have catastrophic effects for those involved. If you have been involved in a truck accident that you believe was the fault of another party, you need our experienced South Carolina commercial truck accident attorneysto open an investigation, analyze evidence, and build your claim.

We are experienced in representing clients who have suffered significant losses in truck accidents in South Carolina. To schedule your free consultation with the knowledgeable truck accident attorneys at Peake & Fowler and learn more about proving liability and seeking recovery after a crash, contact us today. We are available to talk at (803) 788-4370, or can be contacted through the online form on our website.

 

 

 

 

Staying Informed About your South Carolina injury Case - Peake & Fowler

How to Stay on Top of Your Case After You Hire a Lawyer

Hiring a South Carolina personal injury attorney after suffering serious harm because of the actions of another is one of the smartest things that you can do. While working with a lawyer does not guarantee a settlement, it does significantly improve your chances of recovering compensation for your losses.

One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer is that an attorney will handle the bulk of your case for you– your attorney will organize all documents and evidence, depose witnesses, send demand letters, negotiate on your behalf, and more. However, this does not mean that you can check out of the process and just let your lawyer handle things. It is very important that you remain an active participant in your case and stay informed of all developments.

For those who have been injured and are already working with a personal injury lawyer, here are some tips and to-dos when it comes to staying on top of your case. Staying on top of your case helps both you and your personal injury lawyer.

Provide Your Attorney with Requested Information

One of the best ways that you can participate in your case and help your South Carolina injury lawyer effectively do their job is to provide your attorney with requested information in a timely manner. This includes answering all of your attorney’s questions and supplying documents when needed. You attorney will likely request a lot from you, ranging from medical records to personal details about your life, so be prepared.

Ask Questions

One thing that many clients struggle with is knowing what to ask of their personal injury lawyer, and when it is okay to ask questions. If at anytime during your personal injury case you don’t understand something, want to know more about any facet of your case, or have a concern about your case’s progress, ask your attorney! Part of your South Carolina personal injury lawyer’s job is to provide you with clarity when there are things that you don’t understand, and to competently provide you with answers to even your toughest legal questions.

Follow Up Routinely

Even if you do not have a specific question, following up with your lawyer on a weekly or bi-monthly basis is a great idea. Emailing can be easier and less cumbersome than is placing a phone call, and can be a great way to get in touch with your lawyer when you or they are busy. Emails should be concise and to the point, but there is no problem with sending frequent emails to see how your case is coming along.

Maintain Discretion

One way that you can help your South Carolina personal injury lawyer and your case, and show that you are committed to the outcome of your case, is to maintain discretion until your case is settled. This means:

  • Refraining from discussing your case with anyone other than your lawyer and immediate family members; and
  • Limiting your social media use (or suspending your accounts temporarily).

The importance of doing these two things cannot be stressed enough – all things that you post on the internet are public and can be used against you, and discussing your case may damage your ability to secure a positive outcome. Even talking about your case with your family should be done with the utmost discretion.

Follow a Prescribed Treatment Plan

Finally, while you may not be able to decipher legal precedent or cross-examine witnesses, you can do something very important for the outcome of your case: follow your prescribed treatment plan. If you seek medical care for your injuries and your doctor tells you that in order to heal, you need to follow a prescribed treatment plan, do it. If you do not follow your doctor’s orders, or if you miss doctor’s appointments routinely, you are giving the other side ammunition that can be used against you. Not attending doctor’s appointments or not following a treatment regimen implies that you are not as injured as you say you are, and therefore may not deserve the compensation amount you are requesting.

Learn More About the Personal Injury Claim Process Today

If you are injured in South Carolina and have questions about filing a personal injury claim and what your role throughout the process may look like, contact our patient South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the offices of Peake & Fowler today. A consultation with our attorneys and staff is free, and is a great opportunity to learn more and ask questions. Contact our office today at (803) 788-4370.

 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage - Peake & Fowler

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.

Preparing for an IME - Peake & Fowler

How Do I Prepare For an Independent Medical Exam (IME) in South Carolina?

If you are making a claim for injury in South Carolina, you might be asked to submit to an Independent Medical Examination (IME) by the insurance company. IME’s are most often used in South Carolina worker’s compensation cases, but you might find a request for an IME in a different type of case if there is a question about injury causation, the need for treatment, or a disability rating.

If you’ve been asked to attend an IME, you may be nervous or unsure about the process. This is perfectly understandable. Here is what you need to do to prepare for an IME so that you can protect your rights and reduce your anxiety level.

Arrive on Time

IME’s are detailed medical evaluations that cost either the insurance company or an attorney on your case a significant amount of money. The IME physician’s office blocks out time for your evaluation, so it is important that you arrive on time for your appointment. Map out the physician’s office ahead of time and make arrangements for transportation if necessary.

Come Prepared

An IME is much more than just a routine office visit. The physician likely had access to your medical records before the exam, but it would be best if you also came prepared to answer some questions. A few of the things that you should be ready to explain in detail include:

  • Your symptoms – Make a list of your symptoms ahead of time and go over this with your injury attorney. It’s important that you can clearly list the issues that you are having so that the IME doctor can verify your injury and disability.
  • How your injury occurred – You should be able to clearly describe how your injury occurred. If there was a work accident, be prepared to describe the accident and conditions under which you were injured.
  • Your treatment to date – Some injuries require long-term treatment, therapy, and even surgery. You should be able to deliver a history of your medical treatment to date to the IME doctor as well as fill them in on any recommendations from your treating physicians.
  • Your medical history – You will definitely be asked about your medical history since some insurance companies will wish to point out that your issues are related to a pre-existing condition. Be prepared to describe any prior injury or medical care as well as how this current injury worsened or aggravated your condition.

Be Truthful

The IME doctor already has a copy of your medical records and knows about your case. Your best option during an IME is to be completely honest. In fact, a physician might think that you are being less than genuine if there is something glaring, such as a heart bypass surgery, in your medical records that you fail to disclose when questioned.

Remain Consistent

It’s quite possible the IME doctor will ask you the same questions more than once to see if you deliver answers that are contradictory. If you are being honest, this shouldn’t be an issue. When you give your answers to the physician, take your time and remain consistent throughout the exam.

Understand the IME’s Role

Although the first letter in IME stands for “independent,” the truth is that these exams are far from impartial. An IME physician is hired by the insurance company, and there’s a good chance the doctor has worked for the insurance company frequently in the past. The physician is supposed to assess your injury, but they may not be completely unbiased.

Remain Calm and Polite

Despite what we’ve just said about the IME, taking an adversarial approach to the exam won’t work in your favor. You’ll receive a much more positive result if you are completely cooperative and polite throughout the exam. If the physician asks you to perform a maneuver, do so without question. There is just one exception to this rule.

Avoid Tests Not Agreed to Ahead of Time

You should come to an IME thoroughly prepared for the experience. Your injury attorney will tell you what sort of physician will conduct the exam and what to expect. If tests, such as x-rays or an MRI, are a part of the exam, this should be disclosed ahead of time. If an insurance company or physician attempts to spring a test on you without notice, it is time to give your attorney a call.

If you’ve been scheduled for an IME in South Carolina and have questions, contact your experienced injury attorney for further guidance.  Peake & Fowler represent clients throughout South Carolina and the Columbia area. Contact us at (803) 788-4370, or use our online form for a free consultation to discuss your case.

 

Dog Bite Attorneys - Peake & Fowler

Is a Dog Bite Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?

Each year, millions of Americans are victims of some type of dog attack or dog bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 4.5 million people are the victims of dog bites annually in the U.S., and half of those bitten are children. While some dog bites are minor, others can be serious, causing infection, disfigurement, or even death.

Dog bites and dog attacks can be scary for both the victim and the dog’s owner. Victims of dog bites might end up with permanent injury or face reconstructive surgery.  A dog owner could face a premises liability lawsuit to compensate victims for damages. Often, these are filed as claims under the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy.

Dog Bite Coverage by Homeowner’s Insurance

The Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites accounted for more than a third of all insurance liability claims paid in 2016, costing the industry more than half a billion dollars in one year. In 2016, there was an 18% increase in dog bite claims nationwide compared to the prior year, and the awards for these claims have gone up 73.4% since 2003.

In most cases, a homeowner’s policy will pay when their dog bites or attacks another person, subject to the limits of liability on the policy. The average amount of liability insurance that most homeowner’s carry is between $100,000 and $300,000.

There could be some limitations in coverage with homeowner’s insurance, however, so it is important to understand how an insurance company may word their policy. For example, some insurance policies limit or exclude coverage for subsequent claims related to dog bites and attacks. So, if you have been bitten by a dog that is a repeat offender, your claim might be denied. Also, there could be language in a policy that excludes certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers.

You might also run into some cases where coverage is limited in other ways. For instance, a homeowner’s policy might limit coverage for dog bites if the owner is away from their property or in a vehicle. If a dog bites you in a park or leans outside the window of a car to attack, there may be limited or no coverage at all. In the case of the vehicle, it’s possible that an auto insurance policy will cover the claim for injury.

If an animal’s owner has a pet that is a considered a dangerous breed or is one that has bitten someone in the past, they might have a pet insurance policy that is separate from their homeowner’s insurance. This policy could provide additional coverage for a dog bite or attack.

As you can see, there are several different types of insurance policies that might make payment in the event of a dog bite. Even if the dog bite is covered by insurance, there is still the matter of convincing the insurance company to honor their agreement and make payment for injury and damages. This often requires the assistance of an experienced and skilled South Carolina dog bite attorney.

South Carolina’s Dog Bite Law

The way that dog bites are handled varies by state. Some states have what is known as the “one-bite rule,” which means that a victim has to prove that the dog owner was aware that their animal was dangerous. This means the dog gets one excused bite before liability kicks in. Fortunately, this isn’t the case in South Carolina. South Carolina is a “strict liability” state, which means that the dog’s owner is liable for the animal’s behavior even if they had no idea that the dog might attack.

Dog bite law in South Carolina is covered under the South Carolina Code of Laws Section 47-3-110, which states that a dog’s owner is responsible for injuries inflicted by their animal if:

  • the injuries are caused by the dog biting or “attacking” another person,
  • the injured person was either in a public place or on private property with permission, and
  • the injured party didn’t do anything to provoke the animal.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in South Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. If you feel that the dog and their owner are responsible for your injuries, it’s important to file a claim and seek legal representation quickly, as there is a time limit on these cases. Contact the South Carolina dog bite attorneys at Peake & Fowler at (502) 384-7400 or toll-free at (855) 598-7425 or online to discuss the specifics of your case.

 

 

Railroad Crossing Accident Attorneys - Peake & Fowler

Accidents at Railroad Crossings – How Dangerous Are They?

The thought of being involved in a railroad crossing accident may seem improbable and you may find yourself asking “Do these types of accidents really happen?”The answer is a resounding yes and when they do, the damages can be life changing.

In South Carolina, data shows that accidents at railroad crossings are a reality. And while this accident type affects far fewer people every year than do standard car, truck, or commercial vehicle accidents, when a railroad crossing accident does occur, the outcome can be devastating.

By the Numbers – How Common Are Railroad Crossing Accidents in South Carolina?

Statistics show that railroad crossing accidents in South Carolina are uncommon, but that they do happen more often than they should; the goal is zero. According to Target Zero, which is South Carolina’s State Strategic Highway Safety Plan that is aimed at eliminating traffic deaths and injuries, there were 17 vehicle-train accident fatalities, and another 32 severe injury accidents caused by vehicle-train collisions, between the years of 2008 and 2012.

While Target Zero does not provide more comprehensive data detailing the types of injuries suffered by those involved in these accidents, it is not difficult to make assumptions about their severity. In accidents involving large vehicles and high speeds, the following injury types are common:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Bone fractures;
  • Internal injuries;
  • Bruising and lacerations;
  • Amputation and crush injuries; and
  • Soft tissue injuries.

Even when railroad crossing accidents are not fatal, they can result in a victim never again being able to do the things that they once did, or worse, leaving them unable to care for themselves without assistance.

The Problem – How Railroad Crossing Accidents Happen and Who Is to Blame

There are approximately 2,600 public railroad crossings in South Carolina and these are inspected by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. One part of the problem could lie in crossing maintenance or warning devices at these 2,600 railroad crossings. For example, while 50 percent of funds must be used for the installation of warning devices at Railway-Highway Grade Crossings, other railroad crossings in the state may not be getting the attention, maintenance, or warning signals that they need to be safe.

Warning signals aside,  driver error appears to play a huge role in railroad crossing accidents. Target Zero reported that in the 27 serious injury railway collisions reported in the four-year period, nearly 41 percent of these were caused by the driver of the passenger vehicle disregarding warning signs and crossing signals.

In addition to drivers intentionally disregarding warning signs, other causes of railway crossing accidents include:

  • Distracted driving;
  • Intoxicated driving;
  • Trying to beat the train;
  • Train operator error;
  • Inattention while walking (i.e. listening to music);
  • Failure to look for oncoming trains; and
  • Track and rail defects.

 What to Do if You Are Involved in a Railway Crossing Accident in South Carolina

Railway crossing accidents are extremely serious, leaving victims with terrible or fatal injuries when they occur. If you are involved in a railway crossing accident in South Carolina, you need to file a claim to recover compensation to help you pay for your injuries and losses. At the offices of the Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., our experienced South Carolina railroad crossing accident attorneys are here to represent you. We can open an investigation to determine the cause of your railroad crossing accident, calculate your damages, and negotiate for a settlement.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys have been serving clients in South Carolina for over a decade and a half. Our experience, combined with our passion and knowledge of the law, make us a formidable team. When you are in need of legal representation that you can count on, look no further than the law offices of Peake & Fowler.

Schedule your consultation with us today by calling us directly at 803-788-4370. You can also write us a message by using the form found on our website.

 

Aggressive Driving Accidents and Peake & Fowler

What Happens if You Are Injured by an Aggressive Driver?

If you are a driver in South Carolina, there is good chance that at some point over the years, you have experienced frustration with the actions of another driver. In fact, you may have even responded to the other driver’s frustrating actions by doing something aggressive yourself, ranging from using foul language or hand gestures to tailgating or tapping your brakes.

Aggressive driving is incredibly dangerous and is a major factor in traffic accidents throughout the United States. The following considers some facts about aggressive driving, and what happens if you are involved in an accident caused by the aggressive action of another party.

Types of Aggressive Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as, “The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Because this is a very broad definition, acts that could be characterized as aggressive while driving include:

  • Following too closely/tailgating;
  • Changing lanes illegally or unsafely;
  • Illegal passing;
  • Failing to signal before changing lanes or making a turn;
  • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions;
  • Engaging in racing;
  • Failing to follow posted traffic laws;
  • Failing to yield;
  • Driving too closely to another vehicle or bicycle (side-to-side vs. front-to-rear); or
  • Otherwise driving in a reckless or careless manner.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speeding is the leading type of aggressive driving maneuver that is associated with fatal crashes. Speeding contributed to 18.8 percent of fatal crashes involving drivers and motorcyclists in the United States in the 2014.

South Carolina Fault Laws – Who’s Liable for My Injuries?

If the actions of an aggressive driver cause or contribute to a car accident where you suffer injuries or property damage, you no doubt have questions about your rights under the law and what you should do next.

South Carolina is a tort liability state, which means that drivers in the state are responsible for paying for the accidents that they cause, and that is why all drivers are required to carry bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. This also means that if another driver causes your accident and injuries, you can file a claim against that driver’s insurance, or can even file a lawsuit directly against the other driver.

In order to recover the compensation that you deserve, you will have to prove that the accident was indeed the fault of the other driver. This requires evidence, which your South Carolina car accident attorney can help you to collect. Some steps to take after a crash caused by an aggressive driver to preserve your right to your full compensation amount include:

  • File a report with the police– you want to make sure that the accident, as well as its cause, is well documented. Tell the police what you believe happened, and make sure to request a copy of the accident report.
  • Talk to witnesses at the scene – As you wait for police to arrive, talk to any eyewitnesses at the scene of the accident. Write down the witnesses’ names and contact information, as well as a few details about what they saw.
  • Take pictures – If you have a smartphone and are able to take pictures at the scene of the accident, do so. Pictures can provide evidence as to how an accident happened based on vehicle angles, skid marks, and traffic signals. Pictures are also great for documenting damage.
  • Get medical treatment. You should get medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible, preferably immediately following the crash. Keep a thorough record of all medical data, bills, and prescribed treatments.

 Hire an Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Attorney

Aggressive drivers are a hazard to others on the road, and cause hundreds of accidents every year. If an aggressive driver causes you harm, stand up for your rights by contacting the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A. A consultation with our team is 100 percent free.  Call our office at (803) 788-4370 or utilize our Online Contact Form.