texting while driving

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.

mistakes to avoid during your personal injury case

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.

pedestrian accident 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 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.

tbi lawyer

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.

Trucking Accidents

What Must I Prove to Win my Truck Accident Claim in South Carolina?

Any type of motor vehicle accident can result in serious injuries, but trucking accidents are some of the deadliest. Tractor-trailers are massive vehicles that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. And when a vehicle of this size collides into a regular passenger vehicle, those inside the passenger vehicle are the ones who usually suffer the most.

Statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show the extent of the mismatch between large commercial trucks and other types of vehicles. Each year, there are thousands of fatalities that result from large truck crashes. And of those who are killed, 68% are occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, while 17% are occupants of big rig trucks. Another 14% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

For those who are injured in a truck accident, proving the claim can be challenging. These cases tend to be far more complex than standard auto accidents, and there are several potential contributing factors. To further complicate matters, the trucking industry is governed by numerous laws and regulations, and an in-depth familiarity with these rules is required in order to successfully prove a trucking accident claim.

Who is At Fault for a Truck Accident?

One of the factors that makes trucking accidents more complicated is the number of parties that may have been involved. In addition to the truck driver and other motorists, there are several other parties that could share fault in the accident. These include:

  • The trucking company that employs the driver;
  • The owner or lessor of the truck;
  • The cargo or shipping company that was responsible for loading the truck;
  • The party that was responsible for maintenance on the truck;
  • The party that was responsible for maintaining the roads;
  • The designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part that might have contributed to the accident.

A thorough investigation will be required to get to determine the root cause of the accident and which parties were to blame. This investigation should be performed as soon as possible after the accident, because witnesses tend to forget important details over time, and critical evidence has a tendency to disappear as well.

What Evidence is Necessary to Win my Truck Accident Case?

Once you have identified how the accident happened and the parties that were at fault, you need to collect sufficient evidence to prove the essential elements of a personal injury claim. These are:

  • The defendant (or defendants) owed you a duty of care;
  • The duty of care owed was breached by the negligent actions (or omissions) of the defendant/s;
  • The negligence or breach of duty of care (on the part of the defendant/s) was the direct cause of your injuries;
  • Your injuries resulted in actual losses (economic or noneconomic losses or both).

Some of the most important pieces of evidence that may be needed to prove a trucking accident claim include:

  • The Vehicles: The condition of the vehicles after the accident will help show how the crash occurred and what may have caused it.
  • The Police Report: If the truck accident resulted in injuries, the police should have been called to the scene. If so, there will be an official police report on file that will have been compiled by examining the scene, interviewing witnesses, and obtaining all of the facts.
  • Your Medical Report: If you were injured in the crash, you should have received medical attention right away. If so, there should be a report on file with your doctor or hospital. Your medical report will help confirm the extent of your injuries and link those injuries to the accident.
  • Truck Driver Data: Information and monitoring data on the truck driver will be very important to your case. Drivers are only allowed to be on the road for a certain number of hours before they are required to take a break. These are known as Hours of Service regulations. Any violations of government regulations on the part of the driver could constitute negligence.
  • Cargo Logs: There should be data available showing how much cargo was inside the truck at the time of the accident. Sometimes, commercial trucks are overloaded or unevenly loaded, making them more susceptible to a crash when they encounter adverse road conditions.
  • Truck Maintenance Data: Semi-trucks log thousands of miles over-the-road each month. For this reason, regular maintenance is required to help ensure that they stay safe. Maintenance and inspection reports could show that negligent maintenance contributed to the crash.
  • Other Important Information: Any other pieces of evidence that might connect any of the responsible parties to the accident must be preserved to help substantiate your claim.

Injured in Truck Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Seasoned Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a trucking accident that was someone else’s fault, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to prove your claim. If the accident happened in South Carolina, call Peake & Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. We are ready to go to work for you and to fight for every dollar of compensation you deserve.

personal injury attorneys in columbia, sc

What to Look for When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Have you suffered an injury that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of another party? If so, there is a good chance you will need a lawyer to help you recover compensation. It is very rare that the party responsible freely admits fault and reimburses you for all of your losses, and you probably will not have much better luck getting fair treatment from their insurance company if you try to handle the claim on your own.

To help ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated, you will probably need to retain legal representation. This is especially true if there are complicated factors in your case, such as a severe and debilitating injury, disputes over who was at fault, and multiple parties that may have been involved.

How Do I Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer to Handle my Claim?

There are countless lawyers out there for you to choose from, and it can seem overwhelming trying to find an attorney you can trust to handle your case. A good place to start is to ask any family members or friends who have been through what you are going through. If they used an attorney who got them a good settlement, then chances are this is someone worth considering.

If you are unable to find anyone through your own network of acquaintances, then you will need to expand your search. And if your candidates do not come from referrals, you will need to ask some more detailed questions to find out if they will be a good fit for your case.

Here are some of the most important questions to ask a personal injury lawyer you are considering hiring:

  1. How many years have you been practicing?

Every lawyer was new at some point, but you probably do not want to put your claim in the hands of someone who is fresh out of law school. Ideally, you want to work with an attorney who has been around for a while. Now, more experience does not necessarily equate to better representation. Be sure to check out their ratings and reviews as well to find out what others say about the representation the firm has provided in the past.

  • What percentage of your practice is devoted to personal injury law?

Personal injury is a very complex area of the law that encompasses countless different types of accidents and events. Preferably, you want to work with a firm that focuses primarily (or exclusively) on personal injuries.

  • How many cases like mine has your firm handled in the past?

An attorney or firm that is primarily focused on personal injury law will most likely have dealt with a wide range of cases, and chances are, they will have handled a case like yours. Ask this question anyway though so you can find this out for sure. Confirm that they are familiar with your situation, and also be sure to ask about the outcome of prior cases like yours. Ultimately, you are looking for a firm with a successful track record securing favorable outcomes for other clients who have been in your shoes.

  • How often do you take cases to trial?

This is a very important question to ask. While it is generally preferable to settle a claim before it goes to trial, your lawyer should have extensive litigation experience and the proven ability to successfully try the case. If a lawyer never goes to trial, then the other side has no incentive to offer you a reasonable settlement. This means that you will probably end up having to settle for far less than you deserve.

  • Will you be able to dedicate the resources necessary to bring my case to a successful conclusion?

Along the same lines as the previous question, you need to get a feel for how much energy the firm will put into your case. With some firms, a case may fall to the bottom of the priority list when unexpected complications arise, and this where experience and focus make the difference. You want to work with a lawyer and legal team that understands and anticipates obstacles, knows how to overcome them, and is committed to winning your case.

Gut Check Time

Choosing the right lawyer for a personal injury claim is not an exact science. There are a lot of factors to consider, and at the end of the day, after you have asked all the right questions, you need to trust your instincts. What is your gut telling you about this attorney or firm? Will they competently represent you with your claim? Will they fight hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve? Will they treat you with dignity and respect? Do you feel comfortable working with them? The answers to these and similar questions will ultimately determine which personal injury attorney will be right for your case.

Trucking Accidents

Who Can I Sue after a South Carolina Truck Accident?

Commercial trucking accidents can result in some of the most severe and catastrophic injuries.  In South Carolina alone, there were nearly 5,000 collisions in 2017 that involved semi-trucks.  These accidents resulted in hundreds of serious injuries and 65 fatalities, and a large number of them were caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver and potentially other parties as well.

Because there are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry and multiple parties that could be held responsible for a truck accident, these types of cases can be extremely complex. For this reason, it is very important to retain an attorney who has specific experience and a successful track record with trucking accident cases.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

There are numerous factors that may contribute to a trucking accident, some of the most common include:

  • Drowsy or fatigued driving;
  • Aggressive or reckless driving;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Driving while intoxicated;
  • Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks;
  • Mechanical failures;
  • Product failures.

Can a Trucking Company be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

As mentioned earlier, there are several parties that could be responsible for a trucking accident.  Oftentimes, the truck driver shares at least some of the responsibility because of various improper driving behaviors, but it may go deeper than that. For example, if a driver was tired or fatigued, it might be because they violated Federal Hours of Service guidelines and stayed on the road longer than they were legally allowed to. 

In many cases, however, the trucking company that employs the driver is aware that they are breaking these regulations, but they passively encourage this or choose to look the other way because they want their drivers to deliver their loads more quickly (which means greater profits for the company). If it can be shown that the trucking company knew that the driver was breaking the rules, it may be possible to hold them partially responsible for the accident.

Trucking companies may also be on the hook for an accident if it was caused by a driver who was not properly vetted before being hired. Companies are required to perform background checks and follow other specific hiring regulations before they bring a driver on board.  However, there is a shortage of qualified drivers in the trucking industry, and rather than pay more to attract better quality drivers, some companies choose to cut corners and circumvent the rules to get more drivers on the road. 

Along these same lines, proper training and supervision is often lacking at trucking companies as well. Driving an 18-wheeler is not something that just anyone can start doing right off the street. There are specialized training requirements that must be met before a driver should be allowed to get behind the wheel of a big rig truck. Putting a driver out there before they are ready is a recipe for disaster.

Although the actions of a trucking company might have played a role in an accident, proving that they are liable can be a difficult task. These companies are only required to certain maintain records for a limited period of time, after which they are free to dispose of them without being penalized. Even before that time, records that might show a company to be liable have a way of getting lost, disappearing, or being altered. 

To prevent this from happening, it is extremely important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible after the accident. With a seasoned attorney working immediately on your behalf, company records and other critical pieces of evidence can be recovered and preserved, putting you in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.

Who else Can be Held Responsible for a Trucking Accident?

Liability for a truck accident may not end with just the driver and the trucking company.  Other parties that could potentially be responsible include:

  • The owner or lessor of the truck;
  • The owner of the freight or shipping company responsible for loading the truck;
  • The party responsible for maintaining the truck;
  • The designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part;
  • A government agency or the party responsible for maintaining the roads.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in South Carolina? Call the Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler

If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a truck accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to recover full and fair compensation on your behalf.  To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call Peake and Fowler today at 803-788-4370. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

tbi lawyer

Helping a Loved One Cope with Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a unique medical condition that manifests itself differently with each individual case. TBI results from a serious bump, jolt, or blow to the head, often caused by a traumatic event such as an auto accident.

This condition has varying degrees of severity, and those who suffer from it can experience a wide range of symptoms. These may include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness/loss of balance
  • Severe and ongoing headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Problems with focus and concentration
  • Problems with speech
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Unusual behaviors

Recovering from TBI is just as much an art as it is a science. The treatment plan and prognosis for recovery depends largely on how severe the injury is, and what areas of the brain are affected.  The mildest forms of TBI, commonly known as concussions, will often clear up within just a few days. On the other hand, more moderate to severe forms of this condition could affect the patient for an extended period of time.

How to Help a Loved One Cope with TBI

If you have someone close to you who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury, it may be difficult to know how you can best help them. The first thing to realize is that TBI is unpredictable, and you will have many ups and downs along this journey. Be prepared for the long road ahead. Prepare to be frustrated, confused, to have your feelings hurt, and to have days when you don’t know what to do. 

While all this is happening, remember that it is not your loved one’s fault. This is an injury, just like a broken arm or a broken leg, except that it is affecting the brain – the most complex organ in the body, the organ that controls the entire nervous system, regulates our thoughts and feelings, and helps shape who we are. Helping your loved one cope with this condition calls for infinite patience and the unwavering commitment to help them get better, no matter what obstacles they may face.

Here are some tips for helping your loved one cope with traumatic brain injury:

Listen to the Doctor

Rehabilitation is critical, and as mentioned earlier, it is not the same for each person. This makes it all the more important to listen to the doctor and make sure your loved one does everything he or she is told to do. Check with the doctor before resuming any activities, such as driving, exercising, and going back to work. And if the doctor tells your loved one to stick to a certain diet (e.g., eating anti-inflammatory foods) and refrain from tobacco and alcohol for a while, make sure these recommendations are followed. It may seem very tedious and restrictive at times, but the closer you follow the doctor’s orders, the better the chances your loved one will recover (or at least achieve maximum medical improvement) after the injury.

Don’t Try to Do It Alone

Dealing with the day to day frustrations of caring for a loved one with traumatic brain injury can push you are breaking point, especially if you do not seek additional support. The good news is, you are not the only one who has had to go through this. There are numerous support groups available both online and in your local community where you can obtain help and guidance and better understand this condition. It is also a very good idea to enlist the help of other family members and friends when they are available, so they can help relieve some of your burden.

Believe What your Loved One is Telling You

When someone has a brain injury, there is often a temptation to not take what they say seriously, much like you would with a child. It is true that much of their behavior may be related to this condition, but this does not make the pain they are experiencing any less real. Believe what they tell you they are going through, validate their feelings, and give them the reassurance they need to understand that you’ll be there for them no matter what.

Seek Skilled Legal Counsel

If your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury because of the negligence or reckless actions of another person or party, they may have the right to compensation; which may include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages (both present and future), pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life. To ensure that you are fully informed of their legal rights and options, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

If the injury occurred in South Carolina, call Peake and Fowler today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation. You may also message us online or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.

can whiplash cause brain injuries

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.