How does the Use of a Motorcycle Helmet Impact an Injury Claim after an Accident?

Does the Use of a Motorcycle Helmet Impact an Injury Claim?

Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise in recent years, with the number of fatalities from these accidents more than doubling over the past couple decades. Distracted driving is believed to be one of the major contributors to this increase. With more and more motorists texting while driving and engaging in similar activities while behind the wheel, motorcyclists need to be extra cautious these days to avoid accidents and subsequent injuries.

To stay safe on the road, it is recommended that all motorcyclists wear helmets. This is not only for their safety, but also to help protect their legal right to compensation during an accident injury claim.

South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In South Carolina, only riders under the age of 21 are required to wear helmets while riding motorcycles. The law used to require everyone to wear a helmet, but it was changed in 1980 to limit the requirement to only those who are under 21 years of age. Riders who are over age 21 are still encouraged to wear a helmet, and the vast majority of them do, but there is no legal requirement for riders in this age group.

How Will the Use of a Helmet affect a Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim in SC?

Wearing a helmet may or may not impact an injury claim (after a motorcycle accident) depending on the age of the rider, the type of injury sustained, and other factors in the case. The other party and their insurance company will almost certainly try to make it an issue if you were not wearing a helmet, but again, the extent to which it will impact your case depends largely on the specific circumstances.

Here are some common scenarios involving the use of a motorcycle helmet, and how each scenario may play out if you pursue an accident injury claim:

  • Wearing a helmet with no head or neck injury: In this scenario, the use of a helmet should have no bearing on your case. However, you may still want to include the fact that you were wearing a helmet when you report your claim to help show that you are a responsible rider.
  • Not wearing a helmet with no head or neck injury: If you were not wearing a helmet but your injury was to your back, leg, arm, or another area (of your body) other than your head or neck, then your use (or in this case lack of use) of a helmet is not related to your injuries. That said, an insurance adjuster may still try to claim that you not wearing a helmet shows that you are not a safe a rider. But at the end of the day, in this scenario, that point is legally irrelevant.
  • Wearing a helmet with a head or neck injury: In this scenario, the fact that you wore a helmet should help your case, because it shows that you did everything possible to mitigate the effects of your head or neck injury.
  • Over age 21, not wearing a helmet, with a head or neck injury: This is one of the scenarios where things can start to get dicey. If you were not wearing a helmet, even if you are not legally required to, and you sustained head or neck injuries, it may be argued that your injuries could have been prevented or they would have been less severe had you worn a helmet. It will be up to you to demonstrate that your injuries would have been just as bad even if you had worn a helmet.  If you are unable to do so, you may end up being found “comparatively negligent” (i.e., partially at-fault) for your injuries, which would reduce the amount of compensation you are eligible for.
  • Under age 21, not wearing a helmet, with a head or neck injury: If you were under the age of 21 and sustained head or neck injuries in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, you will almost certainly be found comparatively negligent for not following the law, even if the accident would have otherwise been entirely the fault of the other party (or parties) involved. You may still be able to receive some compensation for your injuries as long as you are not found to be more than 50% at-fault, but your compensation would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share in the accident. For example, if damages total $100,000 and you are found to be 25% at-fault for the accident, your damage award would be reduced by $25,000.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured in a motorcycle accident and it was the fault of another party, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating aggressively to protect your rights and interests. Whether you were wearing a helmet or not, you may still be entitled to damages, and at Peake & Fowler, we are here to fight for every dollar of compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with one of our skilled Columbia, SC personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412, or message us through our online contact form.

Peake & Fowler - South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

How to Avoid Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents

Millions of people love to ride motorcycles, and there are few activities that give you a greater sense of freedom. In South Carolina, our weather allows for year-round riding, and the Palmetto State hosts numerous motorcycle events throughout the year. While motorcycle riding is fun and exhilarating, it can also be very dangerous.

Motorcycle deaths have been on the rise for the past two decades. In fact, the number of fatalities from motorcycle accidents more than doubled in the 22-year period from 1994 to 2016, going from 2,320 fatalities up to 5,286 fatalities during that period.

There are many factors that are said to be contributing to the rise in motorcycle fatalities. Alcohol, weather, road conditions, and driver and rider negligence all play a role, but the one factor that seems to correlate with the rise in motorcycle accidents during the past couple decades is the increased use of cell phones while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving has always been an issue that contributes to auto accidents. However, texting while driving and similar activities take this danger to a whole new level, because they take the focus of the driver completely off of the road. 

Approximately two-thirds of the time, the driver of another vehicle is the one most at-fault for a motorcycle collision. And in and large number of cases, the reason vehicles collide into motorcycles is because the vehicle driver fails to see the motorcycle in their blind spot.

Tips for Avoiding Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents

All cars and trucks have blind spots, and the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot is. When another vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or even a pedestrian enters a vehicle’s blind spot, the vehicle driver cannot see whatever is there when they look at their rearview or sideview mirrors. This is the cause of thousands of motor vehicle accidents each year, and it is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents.

Many newer vehicles come equipped with blind spot monitors, and hopefully, this will vastly reduce the number of blind spot accidents in the future. That said, most vehicles do not have these monitors yet. And to avoid blind spot motorcycle accidents, it is important for vehicle drivers and motorcyclists to take extra precautions.

For Motorists

Here are some tips for drivers to help them avoid blind spot motorcycle accidents:

  • Properly adjust mirrors: Adjust your rearview mirror so that your rear window is completely framed; and adjust your sideview mirrors so that they are pointed toward your blind spot. This tutorial from Car and Driver provides more detailed instructions and illustrations on how to ensure that your mirrors are adjusted properly.
  • Look over your shoulders: Even with your mirrors properly adjusted, you can still miss a motorcycle that enters your blind spot. For this reason, it is always good practice to look over your shoulder to the side you are turning to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
  • Use your blinker when changing lanes: Always signal before changing lanes, so motorcyclists and other drivers know your intentions.
  • Stay alert: Pay attention to vehicles and motorcycles that may be entering your blind spot. This means avoiding smart phone activity and other distractions when you are driving.

For Motorcyclists

Here are some tips for motorcyclists to avoid danger when driving near other vehicles:

  • Stay out of blind spots: Ride behind or in front of the vehicle and avoid riding alongside a vehicle to help ensure you are not in their blind spot for any length of time.
  • Practice defensive driving: Stay alert and try to anticipate what the vehicles in front of you and behind you might do. Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles and avoid distracted driving.
  • Pass carefully: When you pass another vehicle, complete the pass as quickly and safely as possible, so you are able to limit the amount of time you spend in their blind spot.
  • Stay visible: Wear brightly-colored or fluorescent clothing and keep your headlights on at all times to help other drivers see you.

Injured in a Blind Spot Motorcycle Accident? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

There are times when you do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you or someone close to you was injured in a motorcycle accident that was the fault of another party, you may have a right to compensation. After you have received medical attention for your injuries, get in touch with a skilled personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

At Peake & Fowler, we have in-depth experience successfully representing clients injured in motorcycle accidents and all other types of personal injury cases in South Carolina. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

How does the Use of a Motorcycle Helmet Impact an Injury Claim after an Accident?

I was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident: Do I Need to Retain an Attorney?

Nearly 100,000 individuals are injured in motorcycle accidents each year. And many of these cases result in serious and catastrophic injuries, especially to the rider, who has less protection. A motorcycle accident can turn your life upside down. Medical bills can start to pile up, and you might need to miss several days, weeks, or even months from work. In the most severe cases, injuries can be permanent and debilitating, potentially resulting in the inability to participate in gainful activity.

Those injured in a motorcycle accident often wonder if it is worthwhile to retain an attorney.  After all, the attorney gets a percentage of the eventual settlement, and maybe they would be better off dealing with the insurance company on their own. In most cases, it is in your best interests to at least talk to a lawyer after a motorcycle accident to review the case and discuss your options.

The legal process can be complicated and confusing, and there are many pitfalls that could cause you to lose out on the just compensation you deserve. A skilled personal injury lawyer has the experience needed to navigate the complexities of the process and help bring your case to a successful conclusion.

Here are just a few reasons to consider retaining an attorney if you sustained moderate to severe injuries in a motorcycle accident:

Your Attorney can Properly Value your Case

If you have never dealt with a motor vehicle accident injury before, you may have difficulty determining whether you have a legal claim, and how much compensation to ask for. An attorney with in-depth knowledge of this area of the law can thoroughly assess your case, determine the full extent of your injuries/losses, and explore every potential legal avenue for you to recover full and fair compensation.

Your Attorney can Protect your Legal Rights

Insurance companies often use various tactics to diminish the value of a claim or deny the claim altogether. One of the most common tactics used is to try to get you to admit at least partial fault for the accident. Your lawyer will most likely advise you not to provide any official statements to the insurance company, or to admit any kind of fault for the accident. Your lawyer will also be able to put together the strongest possible argument for the compensation you are asking for, and when necessary, they can bring in expert witnesses (from the medical profession and other industries) to help substantiate your claim.

Your Attorney can Negotiate Directly with the Insurance Adjuster

Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who deal with injury claims day in and day out. When an adjuster is dealing with an injury victim, they will often present a lowball settlement offer that is worth far less than the value of your claim. Knowing that you are unlikely to file a personal injury lawsuit without a lawyer, the adjuster has far less incentive to present a fair offer. Your lawyer can push back against the adjuster by presenting a strong argument for the compensation you deserve. In addition, the adjuster knows that your lawyer is ready and able to pursue full damages through litigation if necessary.

Retaining an Attorney allows You to Focus on your Recovery

One of the most important reasons to consider retaining an attorney after a motorcycle accident is your health. If you have been injured in an accident, you should be focusing on getting recovered, rather than dealing with the insurance company. Your lawyer can handle the legal process from start to finish, including fully investigating the case, determining the exact cause of the accident, gathering all important facts and pieces of evidence, dealing with complicated paperwork, and negotiating your settlement. This frees you up to concentrate on getting healthy again.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina? Call the Seasoned Personal Injury Attorneys at Peake & Fowler

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury in a motorcycle accident, it is important for you to fully understand your legal rights and options. Before accepting any offers from the insurance company, contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation and case assessment. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Slip and Fall Accident - Peake & Fowler

I Was Hurt on Someone Else’s Property, what are My Options?

We spend a lot of time during an average week out and about in places other than our own home.  We go to work or school, go out shopping, go out to eat, attend sporting events, go over to our neighbor’s or friend’s house, and travel to other destinations. When you are in one of these places, there is always a chance of getting hurt.

Accidents and injuries that commonly occur on the property of another party include:

  • Slips and falls;
  • Swimming pool accidents;
  • Animal attacks;
  • Elevator and escalator accidents;
  • Accidents due to other property defects;
  • Fires and floods;
  • Exposure to toxic substances;
  • Injuries resulting from inadequate premises security.

In many cases, injuries that occur on someone else’s property are minor and can be treated at home. There are times, however, when an injury may be more serious. In the latter cases, you may wonder what legal options you have.

Owners or caretakers can be held liable for injuries that happen on the property of another party under the legal theory known as “premises liability.” In order for the property owner or caretaker to be held liable, you must prove the following:

  • The owner or caretaker owed you a duty of care to keep the property free of hazards;
  • This duty was breached;
  • Your injury resulted directly from this breach;
  • You suffered compensable losses due to your injury.

What was your Status when you were Hurt on the Property?

The extent of a property owner or caretaker’s legal liability depends largely on what type of visitor you were when you entered the property. Your visitor status can be placed into one of three general categories:

  • Invitee: The highest duty of care is owed to invitees. These are individuals who have explicit or implied permission to be on the premises. Examples may include employees, customers, patrons, and tenants. For those in this category, reasonable steps must be taken to keep the property free of dangerous conditions, and to properly warn these individuals of any known hazards.
  • Licensee: A slightly lower duty of care is owed to licensees. These individuals also have permission to be on the property, but they generally enter for their own purposes. For example, these could be neighbors dropping by for a visit, social guests who are invited to a party, or door-to-door salespeople who are entering the property for their own economic gain. Generally, a property must be kept free of known hazards that may harm a licensee.
  • Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who has no legal right to be on the property. As such, very little duty of care is owed to individuals in this category. The only obligation owners and caretakers generally have with regards to trespassers is to refrain from willful and wanton misconduct or entrapment that may cause them harm.

If you were in the invitee category, you have the best chance of prevailing with a legal action against the property owner or caretaker. If you were in the licensee category, your standard of proof is higher, but you may still have a case. If you were a trespasser, winning this type of case will be an uphill battle.

How Did the Accident Happen?

Being an invited guest on the property does not guarantee that you will be able to recover compensation. Property owners and their insurance companies are well aware of the possibility of frivolous premises liability claims, and there is a good chance that they will aggressively dispute your version of events. Some possible defenses they may use include:

  • The hazard which caused your injury was clearly marked;
  • The hazard which caused your injury was open and obvious to a reasonable person;
  • You were not watching where you were going when the injury occurred (e.g., you were taking a selfie or texting on your cell phone);
  • You were not wearing the proper footwear for the area in which you were walking;
  • You were in an area of the property where visitors are not allowed or do not usually go.

To protect your legal rights, it is important to be proactive and take the following steps:

  • Document the incident: Take multiple photographs of the accident scene to clearly show the hazard that caused your injury. If you are not physically able to take photos, ask someone who is with you to take them for you. Also, write down in as much detail as possible what happened while everything is still fresh in your mind.
  • Obtain statements from witnesses: Speak with any individuals who may have witnessed what happened and get statements and contact information from them. In many cases, they will be willing to record a video stating what happened, which could be used as evidence to substantiate a legal claim.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders: Get prompt medical attention for your injuries and be sure not to participate in any physical activities without your doctor’s approval. Many insurance companies send out investigators to look for any evidence that you are not really hurt, so stay safe and don’t do anything you aren’t supposed to be doing.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: Premises liability cases can be complex and difficult to pursue. And when you deal with an insurance company on your own, there are many pitfalls that could cause the value of the claim to be diminished, or for the claim to be denied altogether. A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to handle your case from start to finish, deal directly with the insurer, and help ensure that you are able to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.

At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients in premises liability cases and all other types of personal injury cases in South Carolina. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our web contact form.

Trucking Accidents

Trucking Accidents: What You Need to Know and the Best Ways to avoid an Accident with a Big Rig

Anytime someone is involved in a motor vehicle accident, there is the risk of serious injuries and in the worst cases, fatalities. Accidents involving larger vehicles such as commercial trucks bring an event greater risk of serious and catastrophic injuries because of the sheer size and weight of the vehicle(s) involved. This is especially true when a big rig truck is fully loaded with cargo, in which case they may be carrying upwards of 80,000 pounds or more.

Each year, thousands of individuals are killed and tens of thousands are injured in trucking accidents. And not surprisingly, when there is an accident involving a big rig truck and a passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle tend to sustain the most severe injuries. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), when there is a fatal crash between a passenger vehicle and a large commercial vehicle, 83% of the victims are occupants of passenger vehicles.

With the risk of injury in trucking accidents greatly compounded, it is very important for motorists to be extra cautious when they are sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to avoid an accident with a big rig:

Keep a safe distance between you and the truck

It is far more difficult for a tractor-trailer to maneuver than a smaller vehicle. For example, a semi-truck requires significantly more space to make a turn. In addition, commercial trucks have a harder time braking quickly when the situation requires it. This can become especially hazardous if there is inclement weather, such as snow, ice, and fog. Be sure to give large commercial vehicles plenty of space at all times to help ensure that everyone stays safe.

Be cautious when merging into traffic with a big rig truck

Merging into traffic can be challenging, especially when traffic is heavy. If there is a semi-truck merging in one of the lanes next to you, be extra careful. It is generally best to let the truck in ahead of you and give them a safe distance. Otherwise, if you get in ahead of the truck and have to make a sudden stop, the truck may not be able to stop in time, which increases the chances of a rear-end collision. If you are already well ahead of the truck and it doesn’t make sense to let them merge ahead of you, just be mindful of the truck’s limitations and try to put as much distance as possible (without speeding or driving recklessly of course) between you and them.

Be mindful of a trucker’s blind spots and stay out of them as much as possible

One of the major reasons for motor vehicle accidents is failure to see another car that enters a blind spot. The risk of blind spot accidents is even higher with big rig trucks, because they have multiple blind spots that are larger than those in passenger vehicles. Because of this risk, be sure to stay out of a commercial trucker’s blind spot as much as possible. Only enter the blind spot when you are passing the vehicle and complete the pass as quickly and safely as you can. Do NOT linger in the truck’s blind spot for any length of time.

Avoid distracted driving

Technology has helped make driving safer in many ways. For example, vehicles today are coming equipped with blind spot monitors, backup cameras, and other important safety features. That said, technology has also created more distractions than ever before. Texting, watching videos, and other smartphone activity is especially bad because it distracts us in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. Motorists should never engage in any of these activities while driving, and most certainly stay off of your phone when you are driving near a big rig truck.

Involved in an 18-Wheeler Accident? Contact an Experienced South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney

Sometimes, motorists follow all the rules and still end up in a crash with a large commercial vehicle. When this results in serious injury and it was the fault of the truck driver, trucking company, and/or a related party, injured parties deserve to be compensated. These cases can be quite complicated, however, because there are numerous governing laws and regulations and multiple parties that could potentially be responsible. To ensure that you receive full and fair compensation and that all responsible parties are held fully accountable, it is important to work with a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience and a proven track record with these types of cases.

At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented clients injured in truck accidents in South Carolina since 2000. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients to provide the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. Call us today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation or send us a message through our online contact form.

calculate damages

How Damages are Calculated in South Carolina Accidents

When someone is injured or killed due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, the party at-fault is responsible to fully compensate the injury victim (or their loved ones) for the losses. The term most commonly used for compensation from personal injury is “damages”. Some types of damages are quantifiable and fairly easy to calculate. These are known as economic damages. Some types of damages are hard to assign a dollar amount to. These are known as non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Categories of economic damages include:

  • Medical Bills: One of the most common types of compensation received in South Carolina accident cases is for medical expenses. The cost of medical treatment can total tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This may include the cost of immediate treatment after the accident, rehabilitation costs, and in some cases, ongoing medical expenses if the victim suffers a permanent injury.
  • Lost Wages: Injury victims should be compensated for time missed from work after the accident. In the case of a minor injury, this could be a handful of days missed for doctor appointments, treatment, etc. If the injury results in a temporary or permanent disability, compensation should be provided for the number of weeks or months (or longer) the victim has to miss work, or for total loss of earning capacity.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses: If the accident resulted in a fatality, the victim’s loved ones should be compensated for funeral and burial costs related their death.
  • Property Loss: Injury victims may also recover compensation for any property that was damaged or destroyed because of an accident. For example, if your vehicle was totaled after an automobile accident, the responsible party should cover the cost to replace it with one of equal or greater value.

Non-Economic Damages

Categories of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Victims who suffer serious and catastrophic injuries after an accident often have to endure severe and ongoing physical pain. It can be difficult to put a price tag on the pain someone suffers after an accident, and juries have been known to award significant amounts in the most horrific cases.
  • Emotional Distress: This is the psychological pain and suffering an injury victim experiences after an accident. Examples of emotional distress may include fear, anxiety, lost sleep, and many others. Again, it is hard to assign a value to emotional distress, but its extent can often be shown with psychiatric records.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: This is compensation for diminished quality of life after an accident. For example, if an injury victim liked to spend time surfing at Myrtle Beach and is no longer able to participate in this or similar activities, they may be able to recover damages for loss of enjoyment.
  • Loss of Consortium: This type of compensation if for victims whose close relationships have been severely and negatively impacted by the accident. Loss of consortium damages are common in cases in which the victim has a severe debilitating injury (such as paralysis) or wrongful death.

Punitive Damages

A third category of damages may be awarded in rare cases in which the reckless actions or omissions of the party responsible were especially egregious. Punitive damages are awarded to “punish” the wrongdoer and deter them (or others) from similarly egregious behavior in the future.

South Carolina Shared Fault Laws and Damage Caps

There are some state-specific factors that may affect the amount of damages awarded in a South Carolina personal injury case. The first is South Carolina’s “modified comparative negligence” standard. With modified comparative negligence, injury victims are able to recover damages as long as they are 50% or less at-fault for the accident. However, damages recovered are reduced in proportion to the percentage victims are found to be at-fault. For example, if the total amount of compensation for your injury is $100,000 and you are found to be 20% at-fault, you are only allowed to recover $80,000. South Carolina also places caps on certain types of damages.

Speak with an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident in which another party was responsible, you need a skilled attorney by your side who understands the complexities of these types of cases, and how to accurately calculate damages. At Peake & Fowler, we have stood up for injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we put our extensive experience to work to pursue maximum compensation on behalf of each client we serve. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation, or you may send us a secure and confidential message using our online contact form.

tbi lawyer

5 Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 150 Americans die each day from TBI. Those who survive this condition often have to deal with its effects for the rest of their lives. The impact of TBI affects not only the individual who suffers from it, but his/her family and friends as well.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI is a disruption to the normal function of the brain that typically results from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Not all bumps, blows, and jolts to the head result in TBI, and the condition has varying degrees of severity. In its mildest form (commonly referred to as a concussion), TBI causes a temporary change in mental state or consciousness. In its more severe forms, TBI can have lasting effects, such as:

  • Severe headaches;
  • Blurred eyesight and other problems with vision;
  • Dizziness and loss of balance;
  • Ringing in the ears;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Memory loss;
  • Fatigue;
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration;
  • Mood swings (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression, etc.);
  • Impulsive or risky behavior.

What are the Most Common Causes of TBI?

There are several ways an individual can suffer a traumatic brain injury, here are some of the most common:

Falls

Almost half of all cases of TBI are caused by various types of falls. People fall down all the time, and many times, the fall is minor and results in nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. Some slip and fall accidents are more serious, however, and they can result in severe injuries. Falls that involve hitting your head on hard ground or pavement are especially hazardous and can increase the chances of developing TBI. If this occurs on the property of another party who did not take reasonable steps to make the property safe, the TBI injury victim may be able to file a claim for damages.

Being Struck By/Against Events

The second-leading cause of TBI is being struck by an object or bumping into or against an object. This type of injury is common in many worksites where heavy equipment and machinery is often used. On construction sites, this can happen because of loose or falling debris that strikes someone in the head.

Motor Vehicle/Traffic-Related Incidents

The third-leading cause of TBI is a motor vehicle crash or another type of traffic-related incident. In these types of cases, vehicle drivers and passengers are often jolted suddenly because of the impact of the crash, causing head trauma. Traumatic brain injuries are not always readily apparent after a motor vehicle crash, and it could take some time for the symptoms to fully manifest themselves. For this reason, it is important to seek medical attention right away if you are involved in an auto accident.

Violence

The fourth-leading cause of TBI in the U.S. is assault, self-harm, or similar forms of violence. Domestic assault is one of the leading causes of death in children ages 0 to 4, and many teens are also hospitalized for TBI injuries related to assault.

Other

There are several other causes of TBI that can be put into the miscellaneous category. These may include gunshots, explosions, and various types of sports-related injuries, such as helmet-to-helmet football collisions and blows to the head while boxing.

Children and the Elderly are at the Greatest Risk for TBI

It should come as little surprise that the most vulnerable among us are the most susceptible to developing traumatic brain injury from falls and other hazards. The rates of TBI-related deaths are highest among individuals age 75 and older. Among non-fatal TBI injuries, hospitalizations are also highest among the 75 and above age group. Assaults are the leading cause of TBI-related deaths among children ages 0 to 4, and this age group also has the second highest number of TBI-related hospitalizations.

Speak with a Seasoned South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. Severe TBI is a life-changing condition, and you deserve to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other types of damages.

At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. We can thoroughly assess your case and inform you of your rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on which legal avenue you want to pursue. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 to schedule your free consultation, or you may send us a secure and confidential message using our online contact form.

seatbelt failure attorney

How Often Do Seat Belts Fail?

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

Seat Belts Save Lives

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

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

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

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

How Often Do Seat Belts Fail?

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

How Do Seat Belts Fail?

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

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

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

Who is Responsible When a Seat Belt Fails?

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

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

Speak with an Experienced Products Liability Attorney

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

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

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse - Peake & Fowler

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect in South Carolina

Elderly people, especially those who are ill and unable to care for themselves, are a particularly vulnerable section of the population. While nursing homes and long-term care facilities are designed to provide the elderly with the level of care that they need and deserve, sadly, nursing home neglect occurs at an alarming rate, leaving those in need with injuries and harm.

Nursing home neglect can be hard to detect, especially when an elderly person is otherwise ill and therefore in a state of deterioration. For the family and friends of those in South Carolina nursing homes, recognizing the signs of nursing home abuses and neglect is key to the safety and well-being of their elderly loved ones. Consider the following, and if you notice any signs of nursing home neglect, do not hesitate to report it and seek legal counsel immediately.

Physical Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Some of the most obvious signs of nursing home neglect are the physical signs. If you notice any of the following, it may be a sign that your loved one is not receiving the level of care that they need and deserve.

  • Weight loss. Weight loss implies that neglect may be taking place, as it indicates that the elderly person is, for whatever reason, not receiving the level of nutrition that they need for optimal health. An overall deterioration in health condition could also be a sign of nursing home neglect.
  • Falls. Falls are one of the most common sources of injury amongst elderly people throughout the United States, but in a nursing home, falls should never happen. When a nursing home fall happens, it may be because the nursing home patient was not properly assisted, supervised, and otherwise cared for.
  • Bedsores. Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers, are both painful and dangerous sores that form on the skin as the result of constant, unalleviated pressure. These sores develop on elderly people who are confined to their bed, and are not moved or changed positions to prevent the development of bedsores on a regular basis. Pressure ulcers in nursing home is a serious problem, with the CDC reporting that in a single year, about 11 percent of nursing home residents throughout the U.S. had pressure ulcers.
  • Bruises, cuts, or signs of physical restraints. A physical mark on a nursing home resident, such as a bruise, is never a good sign, and could mean that the nursing home resident was struck by a staff member, suffered a fall, or was restrained.

Emotional Signs of Neglect

Neglect is not always physical – it may affect a resident’s emotions and psyche, too. Human beings need love, care, and social interaction, and when they are denied these things, they can suffer a physical and psychological deterioration. Emotional changes in your loved one that may indicate neglect include:

  • Withdrawal and depression. When human beings are denied social interaction or are not cared for as they should be may display signs of withdrawal or depression.
  • Anger. Neglect, and emotional harm, can lead to outbursts of anger, and sometimes, even violence.
  • Fear. If your loved one is afraid of the nursing home, does not want to be left alone with a staff member, or is asking to leave, this may be a sign that some type of neglect – or even outright abuse – is occurring.

Keep in mind that many of the emotional signs of neglect are often accompanied by physical signs, such as a refusal to eat, weight loss, sleeping more than normal, and a deterioration in health condition.

It is also important to remember that neglect does not just occur in nursing homes, but may occur in hospitals, when a person is receiving at-home care, and a variety or other short and long-term care facilities.

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect

If you suspect that nursing home neglect is occurring, you should speak with your loved one and the nursing home. If changes are not immediately made or your loved one has suffered harm, it is important that you report the neglect to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control – Nursing Home Department. The Department of Health will open an investigation and look into your allegations of nursing home neglect. You should document all signs of neglect that occur, especially if you plan to move forward with a lawsuit.

You should also consider hiring an attorney who can represent your loved one and your family during a claim for damages. At the offices of the Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., we have handled many nursing home neglect and abuse cases over the years, and our skilled and compassionate South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys know how sensitive and heartbreaking these cases can be. To schedule a free consultation, please reach out to us today by phone at (803) 788-4370 or through our website contact form.