What to Know About Motorcycles and Lane Splitting

Motorcycling is extremely popular in South Carolina, especially during the summertime. There are few activities that provide a greater sense of freedom than enjoying the fresh open air on your motorcycle while taking in all of the natural scenic beauty the Palmetto State has to offer. But with the ease and adventure of motorcycling comes a number of safety concerns for both riders and motorists who share the road with them; and among these is the issue of motorcycles and lane splitting.

What is Lane Splitting?

Simply put, lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic or between two vehicles that are driving in the same direction. This will often involve driving on the median line that separates two lanes on a multi-lane road or highway. Riders typically lane split when traffic is moving slowly or at a standstill, allowing them to filter through a traffic jam and more quickly reach their destination.

Is Lane Splitting Legal?

That depends on what state you are in. Lane splitting is only explicitly permitted in California. Utah has a law allowing lane “filtering”, but it is more restrictive than California’s lane splitting law. Of the other 48 states, some explicitly prohibit lane splitting, while others do not have any laws that address the practice.

For example, lane splitting is prohibited here in South Carolina under S.C. Code § 56-5-3640: “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”

Up the road in North Carolina, there are no laws that address lane splitting, so the practice is not illegal. Therefore, it is generally assumed that motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes in the Tar Heel state.

It is important to note that lane splitting should not be confused with lane sharing, which is the practice of two motorcycles riding side-by-side in the same lane. Lane sharing is permitted in South Carolina under the same statute, as long as it is only two motorcycles sharing the same lane: “Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.”

Is Lane Splitting Safe?

This is a question that has been widely debated over the past several years. Although most US states prohibit the practice or are silent on the issue, lane splitting is common practice in many other parts of the world. This is particularly true in heavily congested urban areas in Europe and Asia.

The American Motorcyclist Association endorses lane splitting, noting the success of the practice in California and a University of California Berkeley study showing that it enhances motorcycle safety. The AMA says, “This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind.

The AMA also points to evidence from the Hurt Report, a comprehensive motorcycle crash causation study that showed that lane splitting slightly reduces crash frequency. And they say that this practice can significantly reduce traffic congestion as well.

Who is At Fault for a Lane Splitting Collision in South Carolina?

Since lane splitting is currently illegal in South Carolina, if a motorcyclist is injured in a crash while splitting lanes, they are likely to be found at fault for the collision to some degree. And if you try to file an injury claim with the other driver’s insurer, the insurance adjuster might try to use this fact to significantly reduce your compensation or dismiss your claim altogether.

But while the fact that you were lane splitting will certainly complicate your claim, it does not necessarily mean you cannot recover fair compensation for your injuries. South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that an injured party can still recover damages as long as they were less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident. However, any damages you are entitled to are reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share.

For example, if you sustained a total of $150,000 in losses and you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident, your damage award would be reduced by $45,000, down to a total of $105,000. In a case like this, you will need to get an experienced motorcycle accident attorney involved as early as possible, so they can begin building your case and working toward securing the just compensation you deserve.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Assistance

When a motorcyclist gets hurt in a crash, it can result in very serious injuries. And even if you were lane splitting when the collision occurred, this does not necessarily mean that you should be barred from recovering compensation. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, Peake and Fowler is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 for a free, no obligation consultation and case assessment. We are ready to go to work for you!

What Types of Compensation are Available in an Accident Injury Case?

If you or a loved one got hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you are entitled to compensation, also known as “damages”. Accident injury claims are appropriate in a number of different scenarios; some of the most common being car accidents, commercial truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical errors/malpractice, workplace accidents, and slip and fall accidents that happen on the premises of another party.

You can file a claim for damages against all parties that contributed to your losses. In some cases, this could be only a single person or entity such as the driver of a vehicle that crashed into you. In other cases, however, there could be multiple parties involved; for example, a commercial truck driver might have been the one who crashed into you, but their employer might have also played a role by giving them unrealistic deadlines that incentivized the driver to break the law and/or violate federal trucking regulations.

There are a number of factors that go into determining what types of compensation you might be entitled to for your injuries and which parties you should file a claim against. This is why it is always a good idea to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer after an accident, so you fully understand your legal rights and options.

Types of Compensation Available in Accident Injury Cases

There are two general types of compensatory damages that you can pursue in an accident injury claim:

Economic/Special Damages

These are direct economic losses that apply specifically to the injured person and can be linked directly to the accident:

  • Medical Costs: All expenses associated with treating your injury and your subsequent recovery; such as the cost of the ambulance, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgeries and other procedures, follow-up medical appointments, physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation, and in the case of a permanent and debilitating injury, the cost of ongoing medical care.
  • Lost Earnings: Getting injured in an accident often requires you to miss some time from work. You should be reimbursed for all of your lost wages for the time in which you are unable to work because of your injury. In addition, if you suffered a permanent injury that prevents you from going back to your previous job and/or participating in any other type of gainful activity, you should be reimbursed for lost earning capacity.
  • Property Damage: Damage to your vehicle or any other property that occurred because of the accident. This might include necessary repairs or the replacement of a vehicle that is totaled, as well as the cost of towing a damaged vehicle and getting a rental car while you were waiting to get your vehicle back.

Noneconomic/General Damages

These are intangible losses that generally happen to all accident victims that suffer moderate to severe injuries. Examples include:

  • Pain-and-Suffering: During the recovery process, you will undoubtedly experience numerous days in which the pain of the injury seems unbearable. The legal system allows you to seek damages for the pain and suffering you have to endure.
  • Emotional Distress: Physical pain is not the only type of pain that is common after getting injured in an accident. There is also the anxiety, sleepless nights, and depression that is often associated with an injury like this. You should be able to recover compensation for this as well.
  • Diminished Quality of Life: If the crash leaves you unable to participate in activities you once enjoyed, you can seek compensation for the decrease of quality of life that you have experienced.
  • Disfigurement and Permanent Injury: If you suffer disfigurement, loss of limbs, loss of senses, permanent brain damage, and other permanent changes to your body, you can seek compensation for the ways in which these changes impact your life.

Punitive Damages

There is another category of damages that is not technically considered compensation, but it is still a monetary award that accident injury victims sometimes receive. Also known as “exemplary damages”, punitive damages are awarded in more limited cases in which the actions of the party (or parties) responsible for the accident were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent. The intent of this award is to punish the wrongdoer and to help serve as a deterrent against similarly egregious actions in the future.

Injured in an Accident in South Carolina? Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered injury in an accident that was caused by another party, you are entitled to various forms of compensation, depending on the specifics of your case. But do not expect those responsible to willingly reimburse you in full for your losses, in fact, they will do everything possible to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay you. This is why it is so important to have strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve.

If your accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake and Fowler for assistance. Call our office today at 803-788-4370 or message us online for a free, no obligation consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!

How Will a Criminal Offense on my Record Impact my Personal Injury Claim?

Civil law and criminal law are two separate legal areas, but there are times when they intersect. For example, when someone is involved in a personal injury claim, they often wonder how a past criminal offense might affect their case. The short answer to this question is, “it depends.”

Your personal injury claim should stand on its own merits and having a past criminal record should not matter; but unfortunately, the other side is likely to bring it up anyway. The first thing you should understand is that the defendant’s goal is to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay for your injury, so naturally, they are going to bring up anything that they believe might help their case.

Whether or not your criminal history will affect your case is dependent on a number of factors. These include the seriousness of the offense (e.g., misdemeanor or felony), how long ago it happened, the nature of the crime, what you have done since then to reform yourself, and how likable you are to a jury.

Before we get into these factors in more detail, it is important to point out that the vast majority of personal injury claims do not end up going to trial. Litigation is costly, time consuming, and unpredictable, so it is generally in everyone’s best interests to negotiate a settlement before the case ever gets in front of a jury. If you end up settling the case, your criminal background is likely to have little to no impact, depending on how negotiations go and how well your attorney represents you.

All of that said, a personal injury claimant should always be prepared to litigate the case if necessary. There are times when the other side is not willing to present a reasonable settlement offer. When this happens, you will need to be ready to go to trial, and this means being ready to address your past criminal offense and any other potential weaknesses in your case.

How your Criminal History might be Used Against You in a Personal Injury Case

A past criminal offense is likely to be most damaging to your claim if it was relatively recent and it has something to do with fraud. The goal of the other side is to undermine your credibility and imply to the jury that you cannot be trusted.

For example, they might argue that you are exaggerating the extent of your injuries, particularly the pain and suffering and emotional distress you have endured because of what happened. So, if you have a prior offense like writing a bad check or passing counterfeit currency, they might use this to try to discredit your testimony. A past felony offense such as a DUI with serious injuries or fatalities could also be brought up to attack your general character.

Ways to Mitigate the Effects of Having a Prior Criminal Offense

Although a criminal record could hurt your personal injury claim, there are a number of ways to minimize the damage it may cause. First of all, make sure you are fully transparent with your attorney and share everything you know with them about prior criminal offenses or anything else that is relevant to your case.

It is never a good idea to conceal anything from your attorney, no matter how embarrassing you may think it is. Defendants in personal injury cases have well-paid investigators whose job is to uncover information like this, so it is highly likely to come out anyway. It is best to get everything out on the table well ahead of time, so your attorney can develop the best strategy for addressing anything that could damage your claim.

One way your attorney might have you deal with a prior criminal offense is for you to be upfront and reveal it to the jury before the other side has a chance to bring it up. This way, you can discuss the situation on your own terms, talk about the good deeds you have done since, and show the jury that you are honest and transparent. With this approach, the jury is more likely to see you as a credible person.

Another approach might be to waive your right to a jury trial and have a judge decide your case. Judges tend to be less emotional than juries, and they are more likely to render a verdict based on the merits of the claim rather than side issues like an irrelevant past criminal offense.

Contact an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured because of the negligence or recklessness of another party, having a criminal history should not prevent you from receiving the full and fair compensation you are entitled to. With the right mitigation strategy, you can minimize the effects of the prior offense on your record, and this starts with making sure you have strong legal counsel in your corner.

If your injury occurred in South Carolina, Peake and Fowler is ready to go to work for you! Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Negligence Contributed to Coronavirus Outbreaks in SC Nursing Homes

Nursing homes have been called “ground zero” in the COVID-19 crisis. Nationwide, nearly half of all coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in nursing facilities. In South Carolina, more than one-third of those who have lost their lives because of COVID-19 were nursing home residents, even though these residents make up only about 12% of those who have tested positive for the virus.

There are 194 nursing homes in South Carolina, and even though the state put restrictions on visitors to these facilities back in early April, coronavirus outbreaks have occurred in several of them. The facilities with the most serious outbreaks tend to be the ones that held the lowest 2019 quality ratings, and many of them had been cited in recent years for violations of standards that were meant to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Nursing homes constitute a “perfect storm” of conditions that would pose a threat of widespread fatalities with a virus as deadly as COVID-19. Coronaviruses spread most rapidly within indoor settings that are climate controlled where people are in closed quarters for an extended period of time. This is why in addition to nursing homes, many outbreaks happened in factories, meatpacking plants, on cruise ships, and within ethnic communities where large families tend to live under the same roof and often in more compact spaces such as apartments.

What made things even deadlier for nursing home residents is their vulnerability to COVID-19. This particular type of coronavirus hits the elderly and infirmed especially hard, and according to the American Council on Science and Health, more than 80% of COVID-related deaths have happened to individuals who were 65 years of age or older. If you add in the 55-64 age group, this number goes up to 92%.

There is no doubt that nursing home patients are the most vulnerable group with regards to the coronavirus, and even under the best of conditions, it would have been difficult to fully contain the spread of COVID-19 within these facilities. Unfortunately, many of the nursing homes in our state did not take this situation as seriously as they should have, and a large number of them failed to take the steps needed to protect our elderly loved ones.

Complaints were filed against several South Carolina nursing homes alleging that residents have been repeatedly exposed to “dangerous or unsanitary conditions.” Some of the specific complaints include allegations that facilities refused to test residents for the coronavirus (as was required by the state) and that facilities refused to provide adequate supplies and equipment to protect staff and residents.

Many nursing home employees tried to sound the alarm with state regulators about what was going on in these facilities. Here are just a few of the complaints that were lodged with the South Carolina DHEC:

“The residents in this facility are in immediate danger as staff are not following isolation precautions as directed for COVID 19”

“We, the staff are scared for ourselves and our residents, but we are scared to stand up because we will lose our job”

“Based on what I saw for my two shifts, the patients in inpatient rehab would most likely be safer at home with family members”

The COVID-19 outbreak is the most serious public health crisis our country has faced in decades, and it is especially tragic that so many of our elderly loved ones have perished in nursing homes – largely due to negligence on the part of the facility. It is very important that those who are responsible for allowing these substandard conditions to occur be held fully accountable, not only so that victims’ families can be compensated, but also to help ensure that this situation never repeats itself!

Contact an Experienced South Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer  

If you have recently lost a loved one or a loved one has become critically ill because of a COVID-19 outbreak in a South Carolina nursing home, you may be entitled to damages. At Peake and Fowler, we understand that this is a difficult time for you, and we are here to help you deal with the complicated legal process. For a free consultation to review your case, message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370. We look forward to serving you!

How Social Media Use Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Most Americans use some type of social media platform these days, with Facebook being the most popular. Almost three out of every four American adults are on Facebook, and most of them access it on a daily basis. Other popular social media apps include Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

We use social media to stay connected with our family and friends, catch up with people we have not seen for a while, and keep up to date on what those in our network are doing. Many of us also like to post status updates, often with pictures that show everyone what we are up to.

To most people, social media is harmless fun. It can become addicting and consume far too much of our time, but other than that, people do not see much downside in using these platforms.

Under most circumstances, this assessment is generally pretty accurate. But when you are involved in a legal case, it is a totally different story. Your social media activity is available for everyone in your network to see, and there is no expectation of privacy, even for direct messages that you send to someone individually or in a group chat.

How Social Media can Adversely Impact your Personal Injury Case

Here is an example of how your social media activity could hurt your personal injury case. Let’s say you are injured in a car crash. Your back and neck are hurt pretty badly, and it looks like you will have to miss work for a while. You decide to file an accident injury claim against the at fault driver for not only direct monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for the pain-and-suffering and emotional distress you are forced to endure.

The physical and emotional pain you are going through is real, but you decide (like many others in this situation do) not to let it bring you down, and to maintain a good attitude as you work toward recovery. You want your family and friends to be informed on how you are doing and not to worry about you, and your status updates reflect your positive outlook. As a result, your social media posts are focused on how everything is going to be okay, you are going to get through this, and you are going to be back to work as soon as possible.

Because your social media posts put the best possible spin on your situation, they might tend to contradict the claims physical and emotional pain you are making to the insurance company. And if the insurance company were to get a hold of these posts, they could use them to say that your injuries are not as serious as you are alleging. This situation could be made even worse if you post photos enjoying a relaxing vacation or a night out with your family or something similar while this is going on.

Strict Privacy Settings Might Not Protect You

You might think that you are immune from these warnings about social media because you use the strictest privacy protections to make sure your posts are only being seen by those closest to you. This may be true, but you shouldn’t count on it.

Insurance companies spend a lot of money investigating claimants. Their investigators are very tech savvy, and they know a lot of tricks that can get them into your inner circle. But even if that does not happen, social media activity is discoverable in a legal case, meaning that it could be subpoenaed if it ever came to that.

How Should I Handle my Social Media Accounts during my Personal Injury Case?

The very best practice for someone who is in the middle of a personal injury claim is to suspend social media activity altogether. But if you cannot totally stay off of social media, at the very least, keep your activity to a bare minimum and make sure you thoroughly review any content that you are thinking about posting.

Do not post anything at all about your case and adjust your settings to ensure that you are not tagged in other peoples’ posts. Do not accept any new friend or connection requests while your case is ongoing. And always be sure to rely heavily on the advice of your attorney regarding social media activity and all other aspects of your case.

Why is Texting While Driving so Dangerous?

Distracted driving has always been a problem for motorists, but the advent of smartphones has made things far worse. At any given moment throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers in United States are attempting to use their cell phones while they are behind the wheel. Smart phones allow us to stay connected all the time, and the compulsion to send a text, catch up on your email, and read social media posts can be very addicting.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Here are some alarming statistics that show how dangerous texting while driving and other types of distractions can be:

  • Cell phone use is responsible for approximately 1.6 million crashes in the US each year.
  • Distracted driving claims the lives of nine Americans every day on average, or approximately 3,500 per year.
  • An estimated 400,000 individuals are injured in crashes that involve distracted drivers each year.
  • Distracted driving costs our society approximately $40 billion per year.
  • Approximately one out of every four auto accidents in United States is caused by texting while driving.
  • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • 35% of teen drivers admit to having sent a text while driving (the real number is most likely much higher).
  • Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into a crash or near crash because of cell phone use.

What Makes Texting while Driving Worse than Other Distractions?

Most people intuitively understand that sending and receiving text messages while driving is an extremely dangerous practice. In fact, 94% of all drivers support a ban on texting while driving, and nearly 75% support a ban on the use of handheld cell phones. So, what makes texting so much worse than other types of distracted driving?

There are multiple forms of distracted driving:

  • Visual: Any distraction that takes your eyes off of the road, such as an attractive billboard that catches your attention.
  • Manual: Any distraction that causes you to take your hands off of the wheel or your feet off of the break, accelerator, or clutch, such as eating or handling a passenger.
  • Auditory: Any sounds that you hear that are not related to driving, such as your car radio or someone you are talking to on your cell phone.
  • Cognitive: Anything you may be thinking about other than driving, such as a topic you are talking to someone in the car about.

Most distractions fall into one or two of the above-mentioned categories, but texting while driving and other types of electronic activity on smartphones cause motorists to be distracted in at least three different ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. In some cases, sending or receiving a text can cause an audible distraction as well.

The end result of sending or receiving a text while driving is that the driver’s entire focus is taken off of the road where it belongs. This is why you will often see cars stopped at stop lights after the light turns green or cars that straddle the center line and/or weave back and forth between lanes. To help illustrate just how dangerous texting while driving is, the CDC says that looking down at your phone for just five seconds to send or receive a text is roughly the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

Despite overwhelming agreement that the practice should be banned, the majority of drivers still admit to having done it. And although the states have banned this practice, the penalties are not harsh enough to deter a lot of drivers from thinking they can sneak a text every now and then.

The news is not all bad, however. Technology got us into this mess, and it is helping get us out as well.

There are now numerous smart phone apps that can be used to prevent teens from texting while driving, and to keep adults from seeing their text messages until after their trip is over. In addition, voice activated texting, though not a perfect alternative, is far better than manually sending a text by using your eyes and fingers. Hopefully, technological breakthroughs will help reduce the number of future accidents and fatalities that are caused by texting while driving.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in South Carolina? Peake & Fowler is Here to Help

If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of a distracted driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in all types of auto accidents in South Carolina, and we work closely with our clients to provide the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. Although court access has been restricted as our nation continues to deal with the effects of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, we are still fully operational and ready to serve your legal needs.

For a free consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370.

Five Crucial Mistakes You Should Avoid in a Personal Injury Case

When someone suffers a personal injury that was the fault of another party, they are entitled to full and fair compensation for their losses. However, the fact that you have a right to compensation does not guarantee that you will recover the amount that you deserve. The party responsible for your injury is highly unlikely to write you a check to cover full damages, and in most cases, you will be filing a claim with their insurance company in order to get paid.

During the injury claims process, there are a lot of potential pitfalls, and a single misstep can jeopardize your ability to recover the just compensation you deserve. Here are five crucial mistakes you should avoid making while you are pursuing a personal injury claim:

  1. Delaying Medical Treatment

Any time you are involved in an accident, you should get medical treatment right away, even if you do not feel like you are injured. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush during the heat of a traumatic event masks the effects of an injury, and you may not start to feel it until several hours or even a few days later. Whether your injuries are minor or severe, they must be evaluated by a medical professional and fully documented so you can prove a causal relationship between them and the accident or event they resulted from. You also have a legal duty to mitigate your losses from a personal injury, and this means getting treated for your injuries as early as possible.

During the coronavirus pandemic, getting proper medical care has been an issue. It is not so much that the hospitals and clinics lack the capacity, it is more that injury victims are understandably apprehensive about seeing a doctor with the possibility of COVID-19 patients being in the facility. It is important to understand, however, that medical facilities are taking every reasonable precaution to keep their patients safe. For example, everyone is wearing masks, surfaces are continually sanitized, and patients are kept at least a 6-foot distance from each other. Although there is always a slight risk of catching a virus when you go out, the risks are much greater if you do not get the medical treatment you need.

  • Exaggerating or Embellishing your Accident or Injuries

It may be tempting to exaggerate the severity of the accident and/or the extent of your injuries, but this is always a bad idea. If you fail to tell the truth, you will always be trying to keep your story straight, which could come back to haunt you later on. Keep in mind that insurance companies are large organizations whose goal is to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. They have well-funded investigative teams, and they are very good at uncovering any information that is available that might help their case and hurt yours.

  • Signing a Release from the Insurance Company

Be very careful about any paperwork you are asked to sign from the insurance company. For example, you may be asked to sign a medical release, and it may be presented to you as a “formality” that is needed to get your medical bills paid and move forward with your claim. The problem is that the fine print within the release might give the insurer the right to look at your entire medical history, and the only reason they would want to do that is to uncover something that can be used to claim that the injury you suffered did not result from the accident their client caused.

  • Handling the Case on your Own

At the risk of sounding self-serving, we believe there is a strong case to be made for hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury claim rather than trying to do it on your own. As we talked about earlier, the insurance company dedicates their vast resources toward ensuring that their losses are mitigated, and their interests are not aligned with yours. With so much at stake, it is extremely important to have a strong legal advocate in your corner who is looking out for your best interests. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to handle all the complexities involved with your case from start to finish and give you advice and counsel along the way. Having a lawyer with proven litigation experience will also show the insurance company that you are serious about going to trial if necessary, and this factor alone will most likely motivate them to give you a much better settlement offer than you would otherwise receive.

  • Discussing your Case with Anyone other than Your Attorney

Under no circumstance should you discuss your personal injury claim with anyone other than your lawyer. This includes the other party (or parties) involved, representatives from the insurance company, or even your best friend. One mistake far too many people make is to continue being active on social media while they are in the middle of a personal injury claim. But as we mentioned previously, insurance companies have professional investigators who are very good at uncovering social media posts that might be damaging; such as comments you make about the accident or photos of you and your family relaxing and enjoying a vacation. Take a break from social media for a while, and do not talk about your case with anyone other than your attorney.

How to Avoid a Pedestrian or Bicycle Accident during the COVID-19 Shutdown

As South Carolina deals with the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, non-essential businesses have closed, and many people are either unemployed or working from home. This has reduced vehicle traffic, but at the same time, there are more people out walking and riding their bikes. We need to get out and get fresh air and exercise while we are waiting out this crisis, so these activities are not only allowed, but encouraged.

Even though there are fewer cars on the road, the increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic heightens the risk of a vehicle colliding with a pedestrian or biker. And unfortunately, these types of accidents tend to result in far more serious injuries. While we are staying “safe at home”, we also need to do everything we can to stay safe when we venture out of our homes for a walk or bike ride.

Tips for Avoiding Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents during the Coronavirus Pandemic or Anytime

For Pedestrians

  • Stay Visible: Try to wear lightly-colored or reflective clothing at night and brightly-colored clothing during the day. Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street. And whenever possible, make eye contact with drivers in vehicles that have come to a stop before you cross in front of them.
  • Stay Alert: There are numerous distractions these days, and it is important for pedestrians to avoid them as much as possible, especially when they are crossing the road. Limit smartphone use when you are walking and keep the volume on your headphones lower so you can still hear what is going on around you.
  • Stay Sober: Approximately half of all pedestrian crashes involve alcohol consumption. In the majority of these cases, the crashes are caused by an impaired driver (more on that later). But still, approximately one-third of the crashes involve a pedestrian that consumed alcohol.
  • Follow the Rules: Understand and adhere to the traffic rules, signs, and signals in whatever area you are walking. Be predictable and only cross the road at designated crosswalks and other places where it is legal to do so.
  • Walk in Safe Places: When possible, walk on sidewalks and walking paths rather than on the streets. If you must walk on the street, make sure you are going the same direction as the traffic and stay as far off to the side of the road as possible. Another recommendation specific to the COVID-19 restrictions is to limit the number of people you walk with, and if you are walking with someone from a different household, maintain at least a six-foot distance.

For Bikers

  • Stay Visible: As with pedestrians, it is important for bikers to be seen by motor vehicle drivers. Wear the same lightly-colored or reflective clothing at night or brightly-colored clothing during the day and be sure to turn on your lights and reflectors at night.
  • Stay in Your Lane: Be aware of your location in relation to vehicles at all times. If there is a designated bike lane, stay in that lane. If there is no bike lane, stay as far to the right of moving traffic as possible while maintaining a safe distance from parked cars.
  • Follow the Rules: Remember to follow all of the traffic laws. This means, among other things, riding with the flow of traffic along the right-hand side of the street, obeying traffic light signals, stop signs, and other road markings, and not making illegal turns. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, you should also limit the number of people you bike with and maintain a safe distance from each other.

For Drivers

  • Put your Phone Away: Although most motorists are aware of the dangers, far too many continue to send and receive texts and other electronic messages while they are driving. Do not be one of them. Refrain from any electronic smartphone activity while driving, and if you must make a call, make sure the phone is in “hands-free” mode.
  • Stay Sober: As mentioned earlier, about half of all pedestrian crashes involve alcohol, and about two-thirds of those involve a drunk driver. Avoid drinking and driving at all times – decades of tragic deaths have proven that driving with any amount of alcohol in your system is just not worth it.
  • Obey Traffic Rules: Follow the speed limits, do not run stop signs or red lights, and do not otherwise drive in an aggressive or reckless manner.
  • Watch for Bike and Pedestrian Traffic: Be mindful of bicycle and pedestrian traffic, especially in downtown areas where it tends to be heavy. During COVID-19, also be sure to watch out for increased traffic while driving within your own neighborhood.

Injured in a Bike or Pedestrian Accident in South Carolina? Peake & Fowler is Here to Help

As we get through the coronavirus pandemic, we want you to know that Peake & Fowler is still open and ready to serve your legal needs. We are following all of the social distancing guidelines and doing most everything remotely, but we have the technology and resources to handle accident injury claims in the same effective manner that our clients have come to expect. Court cases are moving slower, but we can still complete much of the groundwork for your claim even with everything going on.

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian or bicycle accident, message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!

The Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Claims

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event that has disrupted everyone’s lives and impacted every area of our society. The social distancing guidelines that have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus have forced millions of businesses throughout the United States to close, and those who still have a job are most likely working from home unless they are “essential” workers such as healthcare personnel and truck drivers.

While personal injury claims are still being filed and those that had been filed prior to COVID-19 are progressing, this situation is creating some challenges. That said, we at Peake & Fowler are still open, and we are well equipped to provide the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect. We are taking all the precautions and following the social distancing guidelines, and we are doing most of our tasks remotely while the pandemic is ongoing. But rest assured, if you have suffered an injury that was caused by another person or party, we are ready and able to serve your legal needs even during this difficult time.

How the Coronavirus is Affecting Personal Injury Cases

Here are some of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic might affect a personal injury claim:

Medical Treatment Delays

When someone is injured in a car accident or suffers any other type personal injury, it is extremely important for them to get immediate medical attention. It is also very important to follow the recommendations of those who are treating you, which means keeping all of your follow-up appointments and going through with tests and procedures as directed by your doctor.

This is not only for the sake of your physical health – it is a legal issue as well. If you file a personal injury claim, you have a legal duty to mitigate your losses, which means doing everything the medical professionals recommend toward recovering or reaching maximum medical improvement. You will also need to have documentation showing the full extent of your injuries in order to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.

The coronavirus outbreak has created a couple of challenges with regards to medical treatment for personal injury victims. First of all, people are understandably apprehensive about seeing a doctor with the threat of contracting COVID-19. This might cause them to miss important appointments and not receive the treatment they need to get on the road to recovery. Keep in mind, however, that the hospitals and clinics that are open are taking all of the necessary precautions to keep their patients safe, and the risk is very minimal compared to the cost of not following through on the treatment plan.

The other potential issue is the possibility that some appointments and/or treatments and procedures may be postponed for a while. Hopefully, this will not be much of an issue in South Carolina and most of the rest of the country, but you never know. If there is a major outbreak and more resources need to be directed toward treating COVID-19 patients, then personal injury victims may find that their treatment plan has to be delayed. There is not much you can do if this happens, but you must be diligent and follow the plan to the best of your ability.

Limited Court Access

In South Carolina, jury trials have been put on hold in all federal and state courts until the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Non-jury trials have been allowed to continue at the judge’s discretion with only the attorneys, their clients, and necessary witnesses being able to appear. Videoconferencing is also being used in some cases for pretrial conferences and other meetings. What all this adds up to is that, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can expect significant delays in the process.

Motivation/Pressure to Settle Quickly

Because of court delays and tighter finances, personal injury victims are likely to feel more pressure to settle their cases. With the prospect of waiting several months for a jury trial, many people may be motivated to take the money now. Insurance companies are also aware of this, and they are likely to take advantage of the situation. The goal of an insurer is to pay out as little as possible for an injury claim, and they may give a victim a lowball offer knowing that many people need the money right away.

Those hit the hardest will be claimants who do not have legal representation, because most are not familiar with the process or the common tactics that insurers use to minimize the value of a claim. Now, more than ever, it is extremely critical to have experienced attorneys in your corner who have the proven ability to secure maximum compensation on their clients’ behalf.

How Do I Know If I Might Have Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are far more common than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 155 people die in the US every day because of TBI-related injuries. Just under 3 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the US are caused by TBI each year, including more than 800,000 of these events that affect children.

A traumatic brain injury happens as a result of a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. There are a number of events that can cause a TBI, including:

  • Motor vehicle accidents;
  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Explosive blasts;
  • Sports injuries;
  • Assault and other forms of violence.

It is not always easy to identify a TBI. Because of the extreme complexity of the human brain, the condition manifests itself differently in each individual case. To add to the difficulty, many of the signs and symptoms of TBI do not materialize until several days or in some cases even weeks after the accident or event that caused the head injury. This makes it challenging for medical professionals to diagnose a traumatic brain injury during the initial visit to a hospital or clinic.

If you suspect that you are a loved one might have a TBI, it is important to be on the lookout for some of the most common signs and symptoms and go in right away for a follow-up visit with a medical professional if you suspect that something is wrong. The sooner you get treated, the greater the chances that you will eventually be able to recover from this condition and resume a normal life.

4 Common Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that might indicate that you have an undiagnosed TBI condition:

Severe Headaches

Headaches are fairly common, and a lot of people get them on a regular basis. But if you are experiencing an increased frequency of headaches and/or these headaches are more severe and painful than usual, this is a cause for concern. Pay particular attention to tension headaches, migraine headaches, and musculoskeletal headaches. If these headaches last for a long time and you are not able to get rid of them with aspirin or similar medicines, see your doctor immediately.

Sensory Problems

Problems with your various senses are another possible indicator of a TBI. Examples include blurred or double vision, tired eyes, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, altered or lost sense of smell, loss of balance, problems swallowing, and altered or lost sense of taste.

Cognitive Problems

Traumatic brain injuries can inhibit your ability to focus, concentrate, remember, read, and speak. These signs and symptoms would be indicative of cognitive problems; in other words, problems that negatively impact the way we think and reason.

For example, you might have trouble remembering basic information, such as where you put your wallet or car keys. Or you might have difficulty solving problems and/or articulating a solution to problems that you would normally have no trouble with. Cognitive difficulties could produce a wide range of adverse effects; such as preventing you from doing your work effectively and preventing you from participating in activities you would otherwise enjoy.

Significant Changes in Behavior

Our brain regulates our emotional states, and even a mild to moderate brain injury can cause us to behave differently. For example, TBI sufferers often have to deal regularly with depression, anxiety, and in the worst cases, suicidal thoughts. TBIs can also cause individuals to become easily irritable, behave erratically, and experience sudden mood changes.

If you are seeing one or more of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, this could be an indication of a traumatic brain injury, but it could also point to another medical condition. As mentioned previously, the best thing to do when any of these signs and symptoms show up is to get in to see a medical professional immediately, so you can receive a proper diagnosis and get on the road to recovery.

Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

When signs and symptoms of a TBI show up, the first priority is to get proper medical care. But if the injury was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. When this is the case, it is best to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable accident injury attorney, so you fully understand your legal rights and options.

If the injury occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for assistance. Message us online or call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-788-4370 schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.