What Should a Parent Do When a Child is Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?

Children are not known for their sound decision making, and when a sudden urge to run away from a parent happens at the same time a distracted driver is looking down at their phone, tragedy can strike. When your child is hurt in a pedestrian accident, every moment counts. To learn more about what to do after a crash, and for more personalized advice regarding your accident, call Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370.

Serious Risks for Children

Not only are children often more at risk for pedestrian accidents than adults, they are more likely to sustain serious injuries if they are in an accident. Children can often be involved in accidents if they run from their parents on a walk, dash away from park equipment, or run into the parking lot while waiting for their parents to get out any other children. This is why the importance of safe driving and attentiveness is so heavily stressed in driving classes. However, as we all know, drivers often drive too fast for conditions, drive while distracted, or drive while fatigued, leaving them unable to stop in time to prevent an accident.

Common Injuries

Broken bones are quite common in pedestrian accidents. This is dangerous for children, as the breaking and resetting of growing bones can cause issues with their development. However, one of the most dangerous types of injuries for children is a head injury. Traumatic brain injuries can range from a mild concussion that heals within a relatively short period of time to a severe injury that leaves a child comatose. Even if a child does wake up from a serious brain injury, they could spend the rest of their life paralyzed, with limited verbal abilities, or with poor emotional control. Almost anything can happen with a traumatic brain injury, depending on which part of the brain is affected.

The Importance of Immediate Medical Care

As a parent, your first priority must be the physical wellbeing of your child. After calling 911, wait with your child and try to keep them still until help arrives. Any unnecessary movement can worsen an existing injury.

It’s recommended that you seek immediate care. Even if your child appears to be healthy and uninjured, a number of unseen injuries can occur after a pedestrian accident. By the time they become apparent, it may be too late for a full recovery or you could be unable to prove the connection between the accident and the injuries.

Make sure that you keep all of the documentation they provide to you at the doctor’s office or emergency room. This will be necessary when you seek compensation from the liable party.

Saving Copies of Every Piece of Evidence

You may be able to seek compensation for your child’s medical bills and any income you lose while caring for your child with a personal injury case. However, a successful personal injury case requires evidence. Create a dedicated folder for accident evidence, and use it to keep:

  • Copies of medical bills
  • Copies of medical discharge papers and test results
  • Photos from the scene of the accident
  • Photos of your child’s injuries
  • Notes about your child’s pain levels or limitations from day to day
  • Police report
  • Witness contact information

Your lawyer will use this information to construct a case and fight for the compensation you are entitled to.

Why You Need an Attorney Immediately

Proving liability in a pedestrian case is challenging, especially when a child is involved. You will need to demonstrate not only that the accident caused the injuries, but that the accident was the fault of the driver. Insurance companies are very good at talking themselves out of liability in these types of accidents, and you could find yourself with your claim denied before you even get a chance to argue your point.

An attorney knows the common factors that can complicate a pedestrian accident claim and will do everything possible to make a strong case for you. Furthermore, they will also take care of negotiations and communication with the insurance company, allowing you to focus on your child’s needs during this difficult time.

Turn to Peake & Fowler Law Firm Today

If your child has been injured in a pedestrian accident, reach out to the team at Peake & Fowler Law Firm. Our attorneys are ready to fight for you and your child. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 803-788-4370 or contacting us online.

Vehicle Accidents Caused by Defective Auto Parts

There are millions of motor vehicle accidents in the US every year, and the vast majority of them are caused by some type of negligence. While there are uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather that may contribute to a crash, a Stanford University report found that roughly 90% of all auto accidents are caused by some type of human error.

With most vehicle crashes, the initial presumption is that one or more of the drivers involved is at fault. However, there are some accidents in which an outside party could be responsible. One such example is when an accident results from a faulty vehicle or vehicle part. When this is the case, an injured person may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the defective product.

Common Types of Vehicle Defects

About 2% of all auto accidents are caused by vehicle defects. And although accidents caused by defective auto parts make up a small percentage of the total number of crashes, this still equates to about 120,000 accidents every year.

Some of the more common auto defects that could contribute to a vehicle accident include:

  • Steering Systems: Virtually every new car today comes with power steering. But if the power steering system fails, it can make it nearly impossible to control the direction of the vehicle.
  • Computer and Electrical Systems: New vehicles are more computerized than ever, and the systems rely on numerous components that need to function properly in order for the vehicle to run. Computer and electrical malfunctions can cause a vehicle to shut down, and some electrical problems can even cause the vehicle to start on fire.
  • Fuel Systems: Defects within the fuel system can cause leakage, which makes the vehicle susceptible to fires and explosions, especially during a crash.
  • Accelerators: A sticky or otherwise malfunctioning accelerator can cause the car to accelerate on its own. This can obviously become a very dangerous situation when the driver has a lot of trouble stopping the vehicle from unintentional acceleration.
  • Braking Systems: Similar to the problem with acceleration, a defective braking system is another scary problem that could prevent the driver from being able to stop the vehicle.
  • Tires: Defective tires could fall apart, separate, or blow out, all of which could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Airbags: Airbags are important safety features that are supposed to provide the driver and the front seat passenger with a cushion in the event of a crash. But a defective airbag could deploy when it is not supposed to, or it could fail to deploy when it is supposed to. In either case, this can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to vehicle occupants.
  • Seat Backs: Although a relatively rare occurrence, a seatback that collapses backwards during a crash can cause back seat passengers (oftentimes children) to get crushed.

Liability for Accidents Caused by Defective Auto Parts

When you purchase a vehicle or vehicle part, you enter into an implicit agreement with the seller that the product you are purchasing meets the minimum safety standards. When the product fails to meet these standards and someone is injured as a result, they have the right to seek compensation against the manufacturer and any other party within the product’s supply chain. This might be a strict liability claim, or it could be a breach of express warranty or implied warranty.

Product liability claims are very complicated, and it is very important to work with skilled and knowledgeable attorney to maximize your chances of a successful outcome. The existence of a vehicle defect may not be obvious at the time of the crash, and a thorough investigation is necessary to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong and who may be at fault.

A good place to start is to check and see if the vehicle or any of its parts has been subject to a recall. There are tens of millions of auto product recalls each year, so there is always a chance that this is true in your case. That said, many recalls do not happen until there are several accidents and severe injuries that result from the defective product, so your accident could be one of the first involving this particular issue.

Your lawyer will work closely with you to identify the unique facts and pieces of evidence that are specific to your case, so they can determine the best path forward toward recovering maximum compensation while holding those responsible fully accountable.

Injured in an Auto Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Experienced Legal Guidance

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle crash that may have been caused by a defective auto part, Peake & Fowler is here to help. 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!

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!

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.

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.

Can Whiplash Cause Brain Injuries?

It has been known for a long time that whiplash causes neck strains and can also cause spinal injuries. But in recent decades, studies have indicated and link between whiplash and traumatic brain injuries. Brain injuries can occur even without direct head trauma, and this is particularly true with high impact collisions, such as those that cause whiplash injuries.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is any impact or blow that causes the head to be thrown or jerked forward or backwards, similarly to the motion of cracking a whip. The sudden force of the blow causes the muscles and tendons in the neck to be stretched and torn. Whiplash is often associated with car accidents, but it can happen to anyone who experiences this type of impact or blow to the head. 

For example, athletes who play contact sports such as football and hockey have been known to sustain whiplash injuries from high-impact collisions with those they are playing against. This type of injury can also happen when someone is rapidly thrown to the ground, such as falling off a horse while horseback riding.

Those who suffer from whiplash can experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Neck pain;
  • Stiffness or tightness in the neck;
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck area;
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms;
  • Headaches that start at the back of the skull and radiate forward.

Whiplash and Brain Injuries

As mentioned earlier, brain injuries can occur with or without a direct blow to the head. These types of injuries are possible with whiplash when the back and forth “whip-like” motion causes the brain to become twisted, compressed, or distorted within the skull.

According to the BC Medical Journal, the likelihood of brain damage from whiplash depends mainly on “the magnitude of acceleration-deceleration forces and the rotation forces acting upon the skull”. They go on to say, “the most important indicator of possible brain damage is the severity of the trauma. Minor trauma is an unlikely candidate.” In other words, the higher the impact and the more rapid and forceful the jolt is that causes the whiplash injury, the greater the likelihood that it could result in a brain injury.

Those who sustain a concurrent brain injury caused by a whiplash may experience several symptoms in addition to those mentioned earlier:

  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Ringing in the ears;
  • Problems with focus and concentration;
  • Problems sleeping;
  • Agitation and irritability;
  • Difficulty processing information;
  • Memory problems;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression.

Symptoms not Always Immediately Known

Since traumatic brain injuries involve a complicated series of events, symptoms of TBI are not always immediately known. This can create confusion when someone suffers a whiplash injury after an auto accident or another type of traumatic event. For example, a car accident victim may be rushed to the emergency room right away and be diagnosed with severe neck strains and other soft tissue injuries associated with whiplash, but the doctor may not notice any immediate signs of TBI.

For this reason, it is very important, especially for those who are involved in higher impact collisions, to monitor themselves for any symptoms that are delayed and may show up a few days (or longer) after the accident. If additional symptoms do surface that might be signs of a concussion or another type of traumatic brain injury, go back in to see a medical professional for another evaluation. The sooner brain injuries are diagnosed, this sooner correct treatment can be applied, and the better the chances of making a full recovery.

Suffered a Whiplash Injury in South Carolina? Call the Experienced Skilled Auto Accident Attorneys at Peake and Fowler Today

If you or someone close to has suffered a whiplash injury, get medical help right away, and go back in for another examination if any additional signs and symptoms show up later on. Once you have received proper medical treatment, be sure to get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer, so you can be advised of your rights and legal options. 

If the injury occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake and Fowler to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. Call our office at today at 803-788-4370. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

Tactics Used by Insurance Companies during an Injury Case

When someone has been injured in an accident or suffered any other type of personal injury and someone else was at fault, they have a legal right to compensation for their losses. Recovering just compensation for your injuries is not always an easy process, however. In the vast majority of cases, the responsible party is not going to freely admit fault and write you a check that more than covers all your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Most of the time, you will not even be dealing with the person or party that caused your injury.  Usually, you will be working with their insurance company to resolve the claim. Dealing with an insurer can be a complicated and confusing process, however, especially if you have never been through this before. This is made worse by the fact that insurance companies often look to take advantage of your inexperience by setting various traps that are designed to weaken your case.

It is important to remember that the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your injury claim. So, no matter how “nice” insurance adjusters may seem, they are looking out for the interests of their employer, which means their interests are not aligned with yours.

There are several tactics insurance companies may use in an injury case to try to trip you up, here are some of the most common:

Asking for an Official Statement

Insurance companies typically contact those who are injured in an accident shortly after the incident was reported, often within just a few days. The goal of this call is to build rapport and make you believe they are on your side before you’ve had a chance to speak with a lawyer.  Once they think they have earned your trust, they will often ask for a recorded statement from you. They may present this as a formality that is needed to process the claim. The problem is that insurers will usually word the questions in a way that is designed to get you to admit fault or otherwise weaken your case. This is why it is never a good idea to give a recorded statement without first speaking with an attorney.

Asking for a Medical Release

Another request that is usually presented as a formality is for you to sign a medical release. The insurance company might tell you that they need this release in order to obtain your medical bills so they can pay them. But signing a medical release also gives the insurance company the right to look into your entire medical history. They will use this opportunity to search for evidence of previous injuries or preexisting conditions, which they will use as the basis to claim that your current injuries were not actually caused by the underlying accident. The insurance company does not need a medical release to pay your bills, and as with the official statement, you should never give them this release without first talking to your lawyer.

Offering you Less than Your Claim is Worth

When someone is injured in an accident, their medical bills can quickly start to pile up, and they may also be out of work for a while during their recovery. Insurance companies know that under these conditions, injury victims are often highly motivated to get their settlement check sooner rather than later. So, they look to take advantage of this vulnerability by making a lowball settlement offer shortly after you file your claim. In most cases, however, what they offer is far lower than what your claim is really worth.  In fact, many times, it is impossible to know the full extent of your injuries, estimated recovery time, etc. within just a few days or even a week or two after the accident. Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Delaying your Claim Unnecessarily

If you do not provide any statements or releases or take the insurance company’s settlement offer, they may just stop communicating with you for long periods of time. Their hope is that you will get frustrated and give up and/or that they can “run out the clock” and cause you to forfeit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. This may seem like plenty of time, but if you are not hearing from the insurance company for several months at a time, three years can go by fast. If the insurance company is unnecessarily delaying your claim, get in touch with an attorney right away.

Call the Skilled Accident Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler

If or a loved one was injured through no fault of your own, the insurance company will use all kinds of tricks and tactics to try to devalue your claim or deny it all together. To help ensure that you are able to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve, get in touch with the seasoned attorneys at Peake & Fowler. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 to schedule your free consultation. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.