South Carolina Car Accidents – Car vs. Deer

Living in a state like South Carolina that is rich in wildlife has its benefits as well as its risks. According to the latest figures from State Farm, South Carolina ranks No. 12 nationally in the number of deer-related motor vehicle collisions.

When a car crash is caused by a deer, you will probably need to make a claim with your own auto insurance company to cover the damage. There are cases, however, when multi-vehicle crashes involve animals and other complications might shift negligence.

Car vs. Deer Accident Statistics

The frequency of car vs. deer accidents has risen so much in recent years that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study on these dangerous crashes. They determined that there are approximately 1.5 million deer-related accidents annually in the U.S., resulting in as many as 200 fatalities and 10,000 injuries. The property damage cost alone from these accidents tops $1 billion each year.

A rise in urbanization has led to many deer-related accidents, where urban sprawl continues to encroach on the deer’s natural habitat. The risk of hitting a deer in South Carolina is about one in 93. The chances increase significantly during the months of October through December because of mating and hunting season.

Preventing Deer-Related Crashes

Deer-related crashes have become so prevalent in the U.S. that scientists at the University of Washington have suggested releasing cougars into the wild to cull deer populations. Whether South Carolina decides to increase its cougar population or not, there are several ways that drivers can exercise more caution and prevent deer-related crashes.

Deer are the most active in the morning between 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. and the evening between 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.  There is often little to no warning that a deer is getting ready to cross a road, so it is important that drivers are alert during these times and also understand their surroundings.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, motorists that drive in rural areas should pay special attention to habitats along the roadways. For example, changes in habitats such as a creek bed to a field or a woodland area are prime areas for deer to cross a roadway. Other ways to prevent deer-related crashes include:

  • Watch for Deer Crossing Signs. These signs aren’t just placed in random locations. They mark areas of the road that deer are known to cross.
  • Slow Down. Drive at slower speeds during dawn and dusk hours when deer are known to be more active. Also, remember that deer often travel in packs so if you see one animal there may be others in the vicinity.
  • Use High Beams. Your vehicle’s high beams can help you spot deer more quickly, which can give you the best opportunity to slow down as you approach.
  • Don’t Swerve! It’s an automatic response to swerve out of the pathway of an animal that darts out into the path of your vehicle. Experience proves that the property damage and injuries caused by car vs. deer accidents are more severe when the driver swerves to avoid hitting the animal. When you swerve to avoid a head-on collision, you could put yourself and your passengers in even greater peril. You could end up in the other lane and hit another car head-on, potentially injuring or killing yourself and other passengers. You could also run off the road and hit an object such as a tree or trigger a rollover accident by swerving. The best thing to do when a deer runs into the road is to slow down as much as possible and then allow your car to hit the deer.

What to Do if You Hit a Deer

Even when you are as careful as possible, you may find yourself in an unavoidable car vs. deer accident. If that happens, pull over to the side of the road if you can. Stay away from the injured deer and call the police to let them know about the accident. Take photos of the damage and document any injuries. Contact your insurance provider and consult with an experienced car accident attorney.

Options for South Carolina Residents Injured in Car vs. Deer Collisions

A majority of car vs. deer collisions are clear cut cases regarding property damage. Most insurance companies will pay for damage under the driver’s comprehensive coverage, although injuries to passengers are another story. If anyone was injured in the accident or if there were multiple vehicles involves in the crash, there might be issues with proving negligence or getting an insurance company to pay what is owed. Because of these facts it is important to have an experienced South Carolina auto accident and personal injury attorney in your corner. If you’ve been injured in a deer-related car crash, contact Peake & Fowler at (803) 788-4370 today to discuss the details of your accident.

 

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 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 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.

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.

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.

Whiplash: Important Facts to Know

If you’ve been rear-ended in a car accident, you may find yourself waking up the next morning aching from head to toe, unable to turn your head. If you think you may have developed whiplash in your car or truck accident, read on to learn some important facts about the condition, and what you should do if you believe you have whiplash.

*Whiplash occurs when the head is whipped backward and forward suddenly. This occurs often in rear-end car accidents, but it can also happen when someone is punched in the head or incurs a sports-related injury, such as being tackled in football.

*When the head moves rapidly in this manner, ligaments, nerves and muscles in the neck can be torn and damaged. Additional injuries to the back and neck can also occur, including chipped bones in the neck and damage to discs in the spine.

*Symptoms of whiplash include stiffness through the neck and shoulders, headaches, and stiffness in the jaw. In more severe cases, victims can experience trouble with their vision, ringing in the ears, and weakness in the limbs.

*The symptoms of whiplash do not always occur immediately. While the most severe cases of whiplash often present symptoms quickly, many people walk away from accidents believing they’ve escaped unharmed, only to wake up in pain the following day. Since mild concussions can also result from the sorts of accidents which cause whiplash, and both conditions require treatment, delayed-onset symptoms are another example of why its important to seek medical care immediately after any accident.

*In order to diagnose whiplash, doctors may administer a visual inspection of the injured areas, as well as an X-ray to check for bone damage, an MRI to examine injuries to soft tissues, and possibly a CT scan if the doctor believes you may have also experienced a concussion.

*While most cases of whiplash will resolve in a matter of weeks, sometimes long-term symptoms can result. Doctors will typically treat whiplash with a combination of rest, ice, over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication, and possibly physical therapy.

*Some individuals may experience chronic neck pain after a case of whiplash, making it all the more important to seek medical attention and follow doctors’ recommendations for treatment to prevent long-term effects. These medical expenses are recoverable in a claim for damages, and a skilled personal injury attorney can help you recover fully for the costs of your care.

To ensure that all of your expenses from a car or truck accident are fully recovered from the responsible party, contact the skilled South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the Columbia offices of Peake & Fowler for a consultation, at 803-788-4370.