Respect motorcycles on the road in South Carolina

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.

 

seatbelt failure attorney

How Often Do Seat Belts Fail?

Among people ages 1-54 in the U.S., motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death. For most people over age 4, using a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to reduce injuries and save lives in a crash. Unfortunately, millions of people decide to forgo wearing a seatbelt and forfeit this valuable protection. But, what happens if you do wear a seat belt and it doesn’t perform as it was intended?

Seat Belts Save Lives

The truth is that seat belts, when they work properly and when used, save lives. In 2015 alone, nearly 14,000 lives were saved in the U.S. by seat belts. South Carolina has a primary enforcement safety belt law requiring that every occupant of a motor vehicle wear a seat belt or be secured in the proper child restraint system. As of 2016, South Carolina is at a 93.9% seat belt use rate compared to the national average of 90.1%.

Some people mistakenly believe that seat belts are unnecessary thanks to airbag technology, but this isn’t the case. Airbags are supplemental and meant to work with a seat belt. They are also not as effective in certain types of crashes. A seat belt helps prevent injury and death in several ways:

  • Preventing ejection from the vehicle;
  • Spreading crash forces over a wider area of the body;
  • Shifting crash forces to the strongest parts of your body’s structure;
  • Permitting your body to slow down gradually; and
  • Protecting your head and spinal cord.

These are priceless protections that help many people who wear a seat belt. Unfortunately, these devices can fail and lead to catastrophic outcomes.

How Often Do Seat Belts Fail?

Seat belts fail with startling regularity in motor vehicle crashes and lead to severe injury and even death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that roughly 3 million people each year suffer injuries and 40,000 people die because of seat belts that fail during crashes. When a rollover accident occurs, a failed seat belt is one the primary factors leading to injury or death. The most disturbing thing about these injuries and deaths is that they are entirely preventable.

How Do Seat Belts Fail?

Some of the most common causes of seat belt failure include:

  • Retractor failure. This occurs when the tightening of the seat belt or lock fails to engage, which was supposed to protect the occupant.
  • Latch failure. A seat belt’s buckle can inadvertently unlatch, which renders this protective device useless.
  • Spooling. This takes place when too much of the seat belt’s webbing is unraveled, which allows excessive movement of the driver or passenger.

When an accident occurs, and your seat belt fails, it is vital to have a thorough investigation and preserve evidence. Just because a law enforcement officer doesn’t notice the failure at first glance, that doesn’t mean there was not an issue.

Who is Responsible When a Seat Belt Fails?

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured because of a failed seat belt, both the manufacturer of the vehicle, and of the seat belt could be to blame. Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for designing and constructing a safe car or truck that meets the latest safety standards. There may have been a flaw in their production or design process that led to the failure of the seat belt.

The seat belt itself could also have a design or construction flaw. When an automaker chooses a parts supplier, they generally purchase pre-made parts that are ready to install in the vehicle. Defects in those parts could trace back to the original designers.

Speak with an Experienced Products Liability Attorney

When you are seriously injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, you have the right to expect full and fair compensation for your losses. These may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There may be several negligent parties in your case, including another driver, a vehicle maker, and a parts manufacturer.

At Peake & Fowler, we not only have experience with some of the most complicated auto accident cases but products liability issues as well. Our qualified legal team will protect your rights and fight for the payments you need and deserve. Contact our Columbia office now at (800) 946-9461 to schedule a free consultation.

mold lawsuit

Can I Sue if I Find Mold in My Apartment?

Mold is one of the most common types of fungus, and nearly all homes throughout the United States have a small amount of mold within them. While a little mold is normal and harmless, too much mold, and certain types of mold, can be dangerous for human health.

While searching for an apartment in Columbia or surrounding areas, determining if mold is present may not be something that crosses your mind. If mold does exist, however, it could pose certain risks. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of mold, and what your rights are if mold causes you harm.

The Dangers of Mold

Growing wherever there is moisture, therefore especially common in bathrooms and kitchens, mold can have a variety of effects on health. As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people are more sensitive to mold than are others. For those with mold sensitivities or certain health conditions, exposure to mold may result in:

  • Serious lung infections;
  • Skin irritation;
  • Eye irritation; and
  • Wheezing.

Even in people who do not have mold allergies or mold sensitivities, however, research indicates that exposure to mold can cause upper respiratory tract infections, shortness of breath, and the potential development of asthma.

There are also a handful of more serious illnesses that have been linked to mold exposure, but this link has not yet been proven. These conditions include memory loss, lethargy, and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in babies.

Who Is Responsible for Mold Removal?

Controlling mold in the home is relatively easy – you should make sure areas of moisture are well ventilated, fix leaks when they occur, and control humidity levels. However, not all mold can be seen with the naked eye; in some cases, mold may exist under carpet or beneath flooring or walls, making it very difficult to detect and remove without professional intervention.

If you are renting an apartment in South Carolina, it is important that you know that your landlord has a legal duty to ensure that the apartment is free from any health or safety hazards, and is fit to be lived in. Not only does this mean that the landlord is responsible for all mold removal before you move in, but that the landlord is also responsible for correcting leaks or any other structural problems should they occur. It is your responsibility to report these issues to your landlord immediately. If mold accumulates in your apartment after you move in as a result of your own actions, like failing to clean your bathroom or kitchen, your landlord is not responsible for this.

Can I File a Lawsuit?

If you discover mold in your apartment, your first action should be to send a written notice to your landlord of the mold. It is important that the contact is in writing for documentation purposes. Your landlord has a duty to address the issue within a reasonable amount of time, however, remember that the landlord is responsible for structural defects (i.e. a leak, mold underneath carpet from before you moved in, etc.) and not cleaning up new problems – cleaning is generally the tenant’s responsibility.

If your health suffers as a result of exposure to mold, you should seek medical care and document all care received as proof. You should also photograph the mold in the apartment, and keep documentation of any contact you have with your landlord.

Most landlord-tenant disputes, including those involving the presence of mold, are handled out of court. If your landlord refuses to take action, or if your health has declined significantly, filing a lawsuit against the landlord may be the only avenue to resolving the issue. Typically, lawsuits such as these are filed in small claims court. Keep in mind that even if you have not suffered any injuries, your landlord is still responsible for ensuring that the apartment is habitable, and must remove mold as such.

How Our Columbia Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you notice mold in your apartment, contact your landlord immediately. If the problem goes unresolved, our Columbia personal injury lawyers at the offices of the Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A. can help you to understand what to do next. We can advise you regarding bringing forth a lawsuit against your landlord, as well as how to demand repairs/mold removal from your landlord and other potential steps to take. To learn more, contact our law offices today online or by phone at (803) 788-4370.

workplace injury

Who Is Responsible for My Workplace Injury?

Being injured on the job is an all-too-familiar experience for many of South Carolina’s workers. To be sure, in a single year, there were more than 35,000 non-fatal workplace injuries reported in the state, with an incidence rate of 2.9 per 100 full time workers. These numbers do not include the number of fatal workplace incidents. Being injured on the job is not only scary and shocking, leaving a worker with pain and potential disability, but it can also open the door to a number of questions, too. A hurt work may wonder who is responsible for their workplace injury, how they will pay for damages, and whether or not they have a cause of action for damages against their employer.

At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our workers’ compensation attorneys can provide you with answers to these questions, and any others that surface during the recovery process.

Workers’ Compensation: A No-Fault System

The majority of workers who are injured on the job in South Carolina will benefit from workers’ compensation insurance. Rather than a traditional tort liability system–where an injured person recovers damages by virtue of proving fault and holding the at-fault party liable for harm–workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that workers neither have to prove fault in order to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability, nor prove that their own actions were not the cause of the injury. In exchange for no-fault benefits, workers are barred from filing personal injury lawsuits in civil court against their employers; employers are protected from liability.

Who Gets Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to the majority of workers’ in South Carolina, with exceptions for few industries (agriculture, railroad, etc.) and very small businesses. Otherwise, in order to recover workers’ compensation benefits, a worker need only prove that their injury occurred while on the job or while performing a work-related task. Then, they are able to recover compensation for lost wages at a rate of 66 ⅔ percent their average weekly wage, all necessary and reasonable medical expenses, and disability benefits.

Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer

As stated above, workers’ compensation in South Carolina is a no-fault insurance program under which employers are immune from liability, which means that injured employees cannot file a lawsuit directly against their employers. However, in some cases, the right to file suit may be preserved if the employee’s injury was the direct result of an employer’s intentional conduct. For example, an employee may be able to bring forth a suit against an employer if the injuries were caused by an act of employer assault and battery.

Filing a Third Party Liability Suit for Damages

In some cases, a third party other than your employer may be to blame for a workplace accident. For example, consider the following situations, where a third party is clearly at least partially at fault:

  • An injured worker is caught in-between a piece of machinery. Later, it is discovered that the accident occurred because an emergency shut-off function of the machine was defective as a result of manufacturer error.
  • A delivery driver is involved in a car accident. Rather than filing a claim for workers’ compensation despite the fact that the accident occurred while the worker was on the job, the employee files a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver involved in the crash, who was drunk at the time of collision.
  • A worker who is tasked with moving hazardous materials on a daily basis is involved in an explosion. An investigation reveals that the explosion occurred because the hazardous materials were improperly packaged and labeled, and did not contain a warning label explaining the danger of particular storage scenarios, contributing to the explosion.

In a third party liability claim, the injured worker is tasked with proving that their accident and injuries would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of the defendant. In some cases, it is possible to pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party liability claim.

Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in South Carolina Today

If you are involved in a workplace accident, getting the compensation that you deserve is incredibly important. At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our South Carolina attorneys have years’ worth of experience handling both workers’ compensation and third party liability claims. We will review your case for free, and provide you with the information and advice you’re looking for. When you hire our law firm, we offer aggressive representation that seeks to get you your full recovery amount. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation please contact us online or by phone today.

 

burn injuries

Burn Injuries – What You Need to Know

Burn injuries are some of the most painful types of injuries possible. The American Burn Association reports that approximately 486,000 people each year receive hospital and emergency room treatment for burns. This doesn’t take into account the thousands of burn injuries treated in clinics and private medical offices. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reports that roughly 14,500 people die annually from either burns or burn-related infections.

The people most vulnerable to burn accidents and injuries include young children and older adults. Part of the reason this is true is that their skin is more delicate and sensitive. Another issue with these groups is that they may have less mobility in a fire situation. The fact is that a burn injury can occur in just about any setting, from a home to a business to a crashed car.

If you or a loved one have suffered from a burn injury, these are not only painful, but they also take a long time to heal. Burns that are severe can require treatment that is incredibly complicated and expensive. When those injuries were caused by the carelessness or negligence of another party, you have the right to make a claim for damages. Here are several things that you need to know about burn injuries and filing a burn injury claim.

Common Types of Burn Injuries

A majority of burn injuries are the result of contact with hot steam or flames, but some may also be caused by electricity, extreme cold, harsh chemicals, sunlight and other radiation, and friction. Depending on the extent of the exposure, burns are generally classified as first, second, or third-degree burns.

  • First-degree burns affect just the skin’s top layer, or the epidermis, with little to no further damage.
  • Second-degree burns will affect the entire epidermis as well as deeper layers. There will be significant pain as well as blistering and possible nerve damage. Infection and shock are possibilities with these burns.
  • Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn that destroys the skin’s layers as well as underlying tissue, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. Because there is nerve damage, there may not be as much pain associated with these burns, but long-term implications will include significant scarring and surgery for skin grafts.

The treatment necessary for burn injuries depends on the nature and location of the injury. For example, a severe burn on a limb could require amputation while other burns may call for extensive plastic or cosmetic surgery.

Who Can File a Burn Injury Claim?

Burn injuries have far-reaching consequences. Not only can the medical care be costly, but a burn victim could be prevented from returning to work and suffer from severe emotional trauma as well. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, you have the right to file a claim for fair and just compensation. Your Columbia, South Carolina burn injury attorney will evaluate your case and speak to you about your legal options.

Typical Sites of Burn Injuries

Where your accident and burn injury took place could determine the direction of your case. For example, many serious burn incidents happen on the job, where there might be explosions, fires, and risk of electrocution. Your right to recovery in these cases would fall under your employer’s workplace accident coverage, and a qualified South Carolina worker’s compensation attorney can help ensure your access to benefits.

Other common sites of burn injuries include public spaces, schools and nurseries, and road accidents. A restaurant could be held liable for spilling a hot beverage on a patron, or a school that doesn’t supervise children closely enough could create unnecessary hazards. Car accidents not only cause serious damage and injuries, but they can also result in fires that leave victims with additional damages.

Protecting Your Rights in a Burn Injury Case

If you or someone you love has suffered a burn injury that was caused by the careless acts or negligent behavior of a third party, you may be able to file a burn injury claim for damages. It’s vital that you not only seek medical attention immediately after the accident but that you also consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can investigate your case and advise you of your options. Contact our Columbia, South Carolina office now at (803) 788-4370 or online to schedule a free consultation.

expert testimony

The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

An expert witness can play a key role in proving liability and damages in a personal injury case. Experts are people who possess special knowledge, experience, skills, or training that extends beyond that of the general population. When you’ve been injured in an accident, have lost a loved one to wrongful death, or are claiming nursing home abuse, getting the parties responsible for your damages to pay isn’t always a simple matter.

Filing any type of personal injury claim requires that there be an allegation of liability. In essence, who is at fault for your injuries? You not only have to prove negligence but also that those actions, or the failure to act, was the cause of your injuries. In both cases, the testimony of expert witnesses can be used to prove liability as well as testify about the severity of the injury and its far-reaching consequences.

Who Can Qualify as an Expert Witness?

There are several types of witnesses in an injury case. An eyewitness is someone who was present at the time of the accident and has direct knowledge of the events.  An “expert” witness wasn’t an accident witness, but instead is someone who might be hired by your attorney to assist in proving your case.

Experts by their nature are generally professionals who have knowledge, skills, or training that qualifies them to provide testimony or give a reliable opinion on certain issues. For example, a physician may be asked to testify about the severity of your injuries in an auto accident or premises liability case.

The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

Just because an expert is hired for your injury case, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see them sitting before a jury giving sworn testimony. These are qualified individuals who will use their specialized knowledge to help prove different elements of your case. The two ways that you might see these experts used are:

  • Consulting Experts. A consulting expert provides support services to your attorney’s legal team. They might assist through reviewing documents, offering advice, and helping with strategy related to financial, medical, and other technical issues.
  • Testifying Experts. A testifying expert may perform some of the above tasks, but they will also be called by your attorney as a witness in your case. Their sworn testimony could help prove fault, explain complicated terms, or make a case for certain damages.

Different Types of Expert Witnesses

Depending on the details of your accident and what areas may be disputed, different types of experts may be used in an injury case. Some of those include:

  • Medical Professionals. Medical professionals such as physicians, medical examiners, and rehabilitation specialists are often called as expert witnesses to provide testimony about the seriousness of an injury, its cause, and the need for future care.
  • Accident Reconstruction Specialists. An accident reconstruction specialist might be hired to help prove negligence in a variety of personal injury cases. When there is an auto or truck accident case, these specialists can testify about vehicle safety, speed, right-of-way, and other errors that could have caused the accident and injuries.
  • Financial Specialists. If your damages include lost income and permanent impairment, a financial expert could be called to help prove the severity of your financial losses.
  • Maintenance Specialists. When a mechanical failure either caused or contributed to an accident, a maintenance specialist can provide valuable testimony that describes vehicle upkeep and the ways that a failure to maintain a vehicle created a hazard.
  • Phone Records Specialist. Because so many auto accidents now involve distracted driving, your attorney may hire a phone records specialist to prove that the other driver was texting or using their cell phone when the accident took place.

Expert witnesses can often make a significant difference in an injury case, particularly if there is a question of fault or the seriousness of damages. The experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Peake & Fowler often use the services of these valuable experts to help prove our client’s case. If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury, contact our Columbia, South Carolina office today at (803) 788-4370 or online for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Motorcycle Digest -Be sure you get the loss of use/rental value you are entitled to be paid - Peake & Fowler

Motorcycle Digest – Be sure you get the loss of use/rental value you are entitled to be paid!

We Ride……We Understand……

From Peake and Fowler Law Firm, P.A.

By Thomas K. Fowler, Jr.

Be sure you get the loss of use/rental value you are entitled to be paid!

If you’ve been in an accident on your bike in South Carolina, and the accident was not your fault, there is a good possibility that you will have to work with the at fault driver’s insurance company. Don’t let an insurance adjuster talk you into taking less for the lost use of your bike, while it is being fixed after a wreck, than South Carolina law allows.  If your bike is damaged in a wreck due someone else’s fault, their liability insurance carrier (or your own company if the at-fault driver did not have insurance) owes you for three (3) things:

  • cost of repairs;
  • loss of use; and,
  • depreciation

Loss of use under South Carolina law means that you are due the fair market rental value.  Not what the insurance company wants to pay you, but what it actually costs to rent a bike like yours, while your bike is being fixed.  Most of the time, insurance adjusters try to persuade you to accept much less than what you are actually entitled to be paid.  They do this by convincing you to compromise and take what they can get a rental car for through some rental agency with which they have some discount deal.

Usually, adjusters will offer to pay you $20 to $25 per day or rent a car for you.  Do not fall for this!

The fair market rental cost for a motorcycle is best determined by what dealers charge to rent bikes.  Based on local dealer rates that can range between $45 to $125 per day depending on make and model.  Even if you do not actually rent a bike, you are still entitled to the fair market rental value!

Contact our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys

So, don’t accept the rental car value the adjuster wants to pay you.  It is the adjuster’s job to save the insurance company money, not meet your needs or demands.  Don’t be fooled, you are most likely entitled to more, so don’t hesitate to demand what they owe you.  At Peake & Fowler we ride and we understand the needs of those who ride.  If we can be of any assistance, please call us at (803) 788-4370 or contact us through our website contact form.

Ride safe!

Tommy Fowler
Principal
Peake & Fowler

Respect motorcycles on the road in South Carolina

Motorcycle Digest – Whose is at fault for my accident?

We Ride……We Understand……

From Peake and Fowler Law Firm, P.A.

By Thomas K. Fowler, Jr.

Whose is at fault for my motorcycle accident?

Typically, that is the first question we hear when discussing a wreck with a client.  If you were involved in an accident while riding your motorcycle and you have the same or similar questions, we hope some of the pointers in this article will help answer them to your benefit.

It is possible that you lose even though you were hit from behind! 

Believe it or not, it is possible that even though you were hit from behind, you may not win your case, because South Carolina is what is known as a “comparative negligence” state meaning that when weighing the fault of an accident, a jury is allowed to compare the fault of all parties. Unfortunately, that includes your actions if you were the driver of your bike.  Worse yet, if the jury finds you 51% or more at fault, you lose and will not be able collect any damages.

For example, suppose your rear tire goes flat and causes you to stop without much warning in your lane of travel and the car behind you cannot stop in time….crash!.  You later discover that, had you simply checked your tire before you left, you would have seen a big nail sticking out the side which resulted in your having to stop and getting hit from behind.  A jury could easily find you at fault for operating with faulty equipment more so than the driver who hit you from behind. If that happens, you recover nothing.

So, how do you avoid being held more at fault in a wreck in this scenario?  Very simple……T-CLOCK.  This is a safety check reminder published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and means checking for any problems with your bike’s:

T – tires and wheels

C – controls

L – lights

O – oil

C – chassis

K – kickstand

(check out http://msf-usa.org)

Sounds pretty simple, right?  Recently I was in a deposition with someone who had been riding all his life and he had no idea what T-CLOCK meant.   Lesson learned – if you had done what you could to inspect for safety in our example above, the likelihood you will be held at greater fault is reduced significantly. Not to mention, of course, you would have been considerably less likely to be involved in an accident caused by equipment failure or malfunction.

Why is this important?  Simply because these are standards by which a rider’s conduct may be judged in a case to see what portion of the fault in causing the accident was his/hers.  Not using “reasonable care” could cost you dearly.

I do not like to lose the cases I take on, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to lose your case, so pay attention and use care so you won’t be accused of being at fault.

Contact our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys

At Peake & Fowler we ride and we understand the needs of those who ride.  We are experienced and skilled South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys. If we can be of any assistance, please call us at (803) 788-4370 or contact us through our website contact form.

Ride safe.

Tommy Fowler
Principal
Peake & Fowler

personal injury protection

Should I Have Personal Injury Protection?

In addition to the injuries and property damage that you may sustain in a car accident, another complicated element of a crash is determining who will pay for your damages. While South Carolina is an at-fault car insurance state, meaning that drivers are required to hold liability coverage that helps to pay for the accidents that they cause, recouping damages may still prove difficult, especially within a timely manner.

One way that you may be able to mitigate the hassle of determining fault, at least initially, and recovering damages for your losses as swiftly as possible, is by carrying personal injury protection coverage. Also called PIP coverage or medical payments (medpay) coverage, personal injury protection insurance can be an important part of protecting yourself should you be injured in a crash.

Understanding Personal Injury Protection Insurance

The state of South Carolina only requires its drivers to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is broken down into three insurance types: liability insurance for bodily injury, liability insurance for property damage, and underinsured/uninsured motorists’ coverage. The first two types are designed to pay for injuries and damages to others that the policyholder causes; the second is to pay for damages in the event that the at-fault party does not have, or does not have enough, insurance. As a note, while insurance companies are required to offer drivers uninsured/underinsured coverage, drivers can reject it if they so choose.

Drivers also have the option of purchasing a variety of other insurance types, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, which pays for damages to one’s own vehicle. Personal injury protection coverage is also available, although as found in South Carolina’s Code of Laws, this type of insurance is not mandated.

PIP coverage helps to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that you or any of your passengers incur in an accident up to your policy limit regardless of fault. Depending upon your insurance policy, PIP coverage may also cover (in addition to reasonable medical expenses) lost wages and expenses for essential services, such as the costs of care and maintenance.

The Benefits of PIP Coverage

Because personal injury protection coverage is not required, you need to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of purchasing this coverage type and make an informed decision on your own. The biggest–and perhaps the only–drawback is that PIP coverage can be relatively expensive to maintain, adding to the costs of your monthly/yearly premiums. For this reason, many people choose to risk not carrying this insurance type in order to save money up front.

In the end, however, the benefits of PIP coverage often outweigh the risks. These benefits include:

  • Your medical expenses will be covered even if you are at fault for an accident;
  • The injuries of your passengers/family members will be covered even if you are at fault for an accident;
  • You will be able to seek benefits whether or not the other driver can be located (i.e. hit and run situation);
  • You will be able to seek benefits whether or not the other driver has insurance or enough insurance to pay for your injuries; and
  • You will not have to wait for the insurance companies to determine fault before benefits will be paid.

Your Right to Seek Your Full Damages Amount

It is important to understand that regardless of the type of insurance coverage that you carry, you have the right to seek your full damages amount. This means that if another driver caused your accident, you can seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, and other economic losses as well as noneconomic losses, such as the value of your pain and suffering. If a settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, you have the right to bring forth a car accident personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Contact the Law Offices of Peake & Fowler if You’re in a South Carolina Car Accident

Even if you have personal injury protection (PIP) and other coverage types, reaching a settlement with your insurance company that compensates you for the full value of your losses can be difficult. At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our skilled South Carolina car accident attorneys have experience investigating car accidents, determining and proving fault, negotiating with insurance adjusters, and taking claims to court. For legal assistance you can count on if you are involved in a crash, please contact our law offices today at (803) 788-4370 or through our website contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Motorcycle Digest - Recovering the depreciation you deserve - Peake & Fowler

Motorcycle Digest – Getting the depreciation you deserve

We Ride……We Understand……

From Peake and Fowler Law Firm, P.A.

By Thomas K. Fowler, Jr.

Be sure you get the depreciation you are entitled to be paid!

Don’t let an insurance adjuster talk you into taking less for the depreciation or loss in value your bike has suffered due to being damaged in a wreck.  Even though your bike has been fixed, the law recognizes it may not be worth as much as before the accident.  This is called depreciation.

 You will need to get an expert, i.e. a dealer, to give you an opinion of the value of your bike before and after the repairs.  The “before” value can come from a publication that we are all familiar with, but the “after” value is better left to an expert.

Oftentimes, adjusters want only to offer 10% of the costs of the repairs as depreciation.  This is why a dealer can help because when you go to trade your bike in and have to disclose the prior damage it is highly likely your trade value will be less due to your bike having been wrecked.

So, get an estimate of an expert in valuation of your bike.  It can make a huge difference in how much you are paid for depreciation.

 Again, you don’t have to accept the value the adjuster wants to pay you.  It is the adjuster’s job to save the insurance company money.  Don’t be fooled, you may well be entitled to more!

Contact our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys

At Peake & Fowler we ride and we understand the needs of those who ride.  If we can be of any assistance, please call us at (803) 788-4370 or contact us through our website contact form.

Ride safe!

Tommy Fowler
Principal
Peake & Fowler