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Vehicle Accidents Caused by Defective Auto Parts

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

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

Common Types of Vehicle Defects

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

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

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

Liability for Accidents Caused by Defective Auto Parts

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

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

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

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

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

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle crash that may have been caused by a defective auto part, Peake & Fowler is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!

Left Turn Accidents: Who is Liable?

Making a left turn in countries like the United States where we drive on the right side of the road is among the more dangerous driving maneuvers. In fact, UPS, one of the world’s largest transportation services, plans their routes so their drivers almost never make left turns. One major reason for doing this is to save fuel – one report shows that UPS saves millions of gallons of fuel each year and avoids emissions equivalent to over 20,000 passenger cars by avoiding left turns. The other major reason is driver safety.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), turning left is a factor in 61% of all crashes that occur while turning or crossing an intersection, while turning right is a factor in only 3.1% of these types of crashes. Overall, left turns are a contributor to 22.2% of all vehicle crashes, while right turns contribute to just 1.2%. It is numbers like these that drive a major shipping carrier like UPS to use longer routes in many cases just to avoid making a left turn.

There are several reasons why turning left can be hazardous, these include:

  • Turning left (in a country where you drive on the right side of the road) goes against the natural flow of traffic, which greatly increases the chances of encountering traffic that is coming the opposite way;
  • With many types of vehicles, the view is more obstructed when turning left, which means the driver does not get as clear a view of oncoming traffic;
  • Drivers who are turning left sometimes forget to use their turn signals, failing to alert other vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians of their intentions;
  • Increased vehicle acceleration is required to complete a left turn. This makes it is easy to misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle, which could result in a crash. This is especially true at intersections that the driver is less familiar with.

Who is Responsible for a Left-Turn Accident?

When there is a left-turn accident, it is often assumed that the driver who is turning left is the one at fault. This is not necessarily the case, however. Although left turn maneuvers have been shown to be dangerous, this does not automatically mean the driver doing so is at fault for any accident that may occur. There are numerous factors that need to be looked at, and liability in each case always depends on the specific circumstances.

Left turn crashes typically happen when one driver is turning left into oncoming traffic while another car is going straight through the intersection. When this occurs, the driver turning left is usually supposed to yield to the other vehicle, but this also depends on the intersection, the traffic laws in the area, and other factors.

Here are some instances when another driver (other than the left turn driver) may be at least partially at fault or a left turn accident:

  • The left turn driver had a green turn arrow and the other driver ran a red light;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was exceeding the speed limit;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was legally intoxicated;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was sending or receiving texts or other electronic messages on their cell phone;
  • The driver of the other vehicle was eating, grooming, reading a GPS navigation map, or otherwise distracted when the accident occurred.

South Carolina Modified Comparative Negligence

When someone is injured in a left-turn accident in South Carolina, they may be able to recover damages even if they are partially responsible for the crash under the state’s modified comparative negligence laws. This is true as long as the injured driver is less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident.

That said, the amount of compensation that can be recovered is reduced in proportion with the percentage of fault a driver shares in the accident. For example, if their total losses added up to $150,000 and they are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their damage award would be reduced by $30,000 (down to $120,000).

Injured in Left-Turn Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one got injured in a left-turn accident or any other type of traffic-related crash in South Carolina, there is a good chance that the others involved will try to pin at least some of the blame on you in order to mitigate their losses. For this reason, it is very important to retain strong legal counsel, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be preserved.

At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-788-4370.

How to Deal with Uninsured Motorists in an Auto Accident

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that resulted from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you have a right to compensation. Normally, you would recover compensation from the insurer for the responsible party. There are times, however, when the party at-fault is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance to cover the damages.

Liability insurance is required for all motorists in South Carolina. Despite this requirement, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that almost 10% of drivers in the Palmetto State are uninsured. This gives you about a one in 10 chance of having an accident with an uninsured motorist in this state.

What to Do If you are Hit by an Uninsured Driver

Whenever you are involved in an auto accident, there are certain steps you should take right away, regardless of whether or not the other driver has insurance:

  • Call 911: The first priority is to ensure that anyone who is hurt receives immediate medical attention. Some injuries are not discovered until after some time has passed, so if you or anyone else feels like they may be injured after a crash, call for medical help right away. When you call 911, have them send the police to the scene as well to file a report.
  • Retain Extensive Documentation of the Incident: Provided you are not severely injured, take detailed notes, multiple photos, and speak with witnesses who saw what happened. Write down what the witnesses say and obtain their contact information in case you need to call on them later. After an accident, it is best to document the event in as much detail as possible while everything is still fresh in your mind.
  • Exchange Information with the Other Driver: Politely exchange necessary information with the other driver, such as their name, address, phone number, and the name of their insurer. This is the point at which you will likely find out that the other driver is uninsured. If this turns out to be the case, remain calm and move on to the next step.
  • Report the Accident to your Insurance Company: South Carolina drivers are required to carry uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage with liability minimums of $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. The liability limits in your policy may be higher than the state minimums. When you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, you will need to recover damages under this portion of your auto policy. Most insurers have strict deadlines in which to file uninsured motorist claims, usually 30 days. For this reason, be sure to contact your insurance company as soon as it is convenient.

Dealing with your Own Insurance Company after an Auto Accident

It is important to keep in mind that, although you deal with your own insurer when you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, the insurance adjuster is not necessarily looking out for your best interests. At the end of the day, their main concern is the company’s bottom line, not your well-being. When you speak with the adjuster, do NOT admit any fault, and do not speculate on the injuries you may have suffered until you have a full medical report.

At this point, it is strongly advisable that you retain skilled legal counsel. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who deal with attorneys virtually every day. And since their best interests do not line up with yours, you are at a disadvantage if you choose to deal with them on your own. A skilled personal injury lawyer will thoroughly review your case and go over all your legal options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you want to proceed.

Depending on the extent of your injuries and other specific circumstances of the case, there are a few possible outcomes, including:

  • Settlement: The most preferable result would be a reasonable settlement with your insurer that fully compensates you for your injuries. This saves the cost and time involved with going to trial.
  • Lawsuit: If your insurance company does not agree to a reasonable settlement, you have the option to sue those responsible and your insurance company will pay any verdict the jury awards but only up to the maximum liability limits within the uninsured motorist portion of your policy.
  • Pursuing the Responsible Party: If damages exceed the limits of your uninsured motorist policy, you may attempt to collect from the other driver. However, an individual who does not have car insurance most likely will not have much in the way of assets to recover.

Speak with an Experienced South Carolina Automobile Accidents Lawyer

Having an accident with an uninsured motorist means you will most likely be dealing with your own insurance company to pursue compensation for any injuries you sustained. If this has happened to you, get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible, so your rights and interests are fully protected. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented car accident injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation, or you may send us a secure and confidential message using our web contact form.

Accidents Caused by Pedal Errors

Even the newest drivers know which pedal accelerates the car and which brakes the car. Nevertheless, pedal errors are a common and preventable form of automobile accident. Read on to learn more about how pedal error accidents occur.

Pedal errors describe an incident of mistakenly pressing the accelerator rather than the brake pedal. While this seems like an uncommon event, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an estimated 16,000 accidents resulting from pedal errors occur each year. This number means that, on average, 44 accidents occur each day as a result of the driver confusing the gas for the brake.

Most often, pedal error accidents occur when drivers are traveling at low speeds, such as while driving in stop-and-go traffic or while driving through a parking lot, or when drivers accidentally press both pedals simultaneously. The groups most likely to be involved in these accidents are drivers under age 20 or over age 65. Whereas teen drivers’ brains are still developing, some older adults have begun to lose some of the mental sharpness that would allow them to quickly correct the error of pressing the wrong pedal. Additionally, older drivers may have begun to lose feeling in their extremities, preventing them from sensing which pedal they’re pressing. Older women are four times as likely to be involved in pedal error accidents than any other group.

The NHTSA offers several suggestions to reduce pedal error. First and foremost, do not drive while distracted. Second, always hit the brake in the center of the pedal, so as to ingrain the muscle memory of what it feels like to hit the pedal properly. Third, always wear lightweight, flat-soled shoes, and avoid flip-flops, heels, heavy boots, or other thick-soled shoes. Fourth, take time before getting behind the wheel to adjust the seat and mirrors to the optimal position, so that you can comfortably reach the pedals and see the road before you.

If you have been injured in an accident with a negligent driver, seek experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable legal help in obtaining the compensation you deserve by contacting the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler for a consultation, at 803-788-4370.

Driver Alleged to be Distracted by Snapchat Involved in Serious Crash

Wentworth Maynard, a man who claims to have been the victim in a serious wreck that caused him to suffer permanent brain damage, is now suing both the driver and the makers of the app Snapchat, the photo-sharing app which he claims the at-fault driver was using when the crash occurred. Maynard asserts that the at-fault driver was using the app’s speed filter, which uses the phone’s accelerometer to measure the user’s speed when a photo is taken and prints it on the photo.

Maynard was driving for Uber on the night of September 10, 2015, when the crash occurred. Eighteen-year-old Christal McGee was out driving with her girlfriends, driving at speeds that Maynard’s experts estimate reached 107 mph, according to his lawsuit. As Maynard attempted to enter the highway on which McGee was driving, McGee slammed into the driver’s side of Maynard’s car. McGee claims that Maynard is responsible for the accident, having drifted into McGee’s lane without signaling.

Maynard suffered a serious traumatic brain injury in the crash and was forced to spend the following five weeks in the intensive care unit. Maynard continues to suffer the effects of permanent brain damage. He has lost 50 pounds since the accident, cannot get around without help from a wheelchair or walker, and has been unable to return to work. Maynard is seeking money damages from McGee and Snapchat’s developers to cover his expenses resulting from the accident.

Maynard claims that, since Snapchat knew of the dangers related to the speed filter, they had a duty to remove it from the app. According to the lawsuit, Snapchat’s “responsibility to act reasonably to take steps to eliminate risks associated with their products” necessitated that they disable the speed filter, but having negligently failed to do so, they can be held liable for the injuries resulting from use of the filter. Snapchat claims that its warning not to “snap and drive,” as well as an admonition in its terms of use not to use the app in a dangerous manner, is sufficient to meet any safety responsibilities it may have toward its users.

If you have been hurt in a serious accident with a distracted or otherwise reckless driver in South Carolina, seek the compensation you need and deserve for any resulting medical expenses or lost wages by contacting the knowledgeable and compassionate Columbia personal injury attorneys at Peake & Fowler for a free consultation, at 803-788-4370.

Motorcyclist Killed in Crash with Pickup

A recent accident in Clarendon County has resulted in one fatality. A 68-year-old man was driving his motorcycle south on Lake Marion Shores Road in Summerton, South Carolina. A pickup truck traveling north on the road is believed by South Carolina Highway Patrol to have crossed the center line, and in doing so, struck the motorcyclist. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Highway Patrol did not mention whether alcohol was involved in the crash, nor whether charges would be filed against the driver of the truck in conjunction with the accident.

In crashes between larger vehicles and motorcycles, the motorcyclist rarely emerges unscathed. Head-on crashes with motorcycles are common sources of motorcyclist fatalities, with some 74% of all motorcycle-involved crashes being head-on collisions. These crashes occur either when cars drift over the center line into the motorcycle’s path, or turn left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Motorcyclists are much more prone to being injured and killed in crashes, in part because they lack the external protections afforded by a vehicle. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that motorcyclist fatalities occur 26 times more frequently than passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in motor vehicle accidents.

Motorcyclists and their passengers are much more vulnerable on the road than drivers of passenger vehicles, and almost any accident can prove potentially fatal to a motorcyclist. No matter how much caution you take while you’re riding your bike, your safety is often in the hands of truck or car drivers who may be drowsy, inattentive, drunk, or texting. If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you need an attorney who will stand up for you in court and ensure you’re paid what you’re owed for your injuries. Contact Columbia, South Carolina’s experienced personal injury and motorcycle attorneys at Peake & Fowler for an evaluation of your potential lawsuit, at 803-788-4370.

Top Five Reasons to Hire an Attorney if You Have Been Injured in a South Carolina Car Accident

You drive carefully and cautiously, paying attention to the road conditions and the traffic moving around you. Unfortunately, all the care in the world may not protect you from being struck and injured by a careless, reckless or negligent driver. It is only right that the negligent driver compensate you for your injuries, but actually obtaining the right amount of compensation requires skill and determination. Here are the top five reasons why hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is key to your success in a South Carolina auto accident case.

1. Knowing the extent of your car accident injuries requires experience and investigation.

When you are injured in a car crash, certain aspects of your damages are plainly visible, such as the damage to your vehicle and the cuts and bruises on your body. The insurance company may be quick to offer you a check to cover these damages, and you may readily accept, glad that the process to obtain compensation went so quickly and easily. But as injury attorneys who have handled numerous car accident cases, we know that all of your injuries may not be readily apparent, and that you may have additional expenses down the road that you have not even thought about. An experienced car accident lawyer thinks of everything. We make sure you are covered not only for past medical expenses, but for future medical as well. We obtain compensation for lost wages not just for the time you missed from work, but if you are disabled from working in the future as well, whether entirely or at a diminished earning capacity. Your own unique situation may require other forms of compensation as well.

2. You have enough on your plate without taking on the burden of a personal injury litigation.

Your focus needs to be on your own personal care and recovery, getting back on your feet, getting back to work, or getting your household back in order. Getting the right amount of compensation from the insurance company takes time and effort, and you already have enough to deal with. Handling personal injury cases is all we do. It is our job to devote the time, energy and attention to your case that is necessary to get the maximum amount of compensation.

3. An attorney will make sure your case doesn’t slip through the cracks.

You may have heard of the statute of limitations and know that you have a limited timeframe within which to file a lawsuit, and that if you miss this deadline, you can be barred from recovery. While this deadline may seem to be some distant point in the future, it can actually come at you fast as you are busy dealing with your own recovery, handling bills and paperwork, and enduring insurance company negotiations that seem to drag on endlessly. An attorney will make sure that important deadlines are not missed, including the applicable statute of limitations. If you were injured on the job or on public property, there may be other timelines involved as well which are much shorter than the standard statute of limitations. Don’t lose your right to compensation because of a technical error or mistake.

4. Insurance companies take advantage of the unrepresented.

It is true that the vast majority of injury cases settle without going to court, so you may be wondering why you can’t just settle the case on your own. The simple truth is that insurance companies are vastly more experienced than you are at estimating the value of a claim and negotiating a favorable settlement. The initial settlement offer made to an unrepresented person is almost never realistic in terms of what the claim is actually worth. When they see that you are represented by an experienced personal injury attorney with a record of results in court, however, they are much more apt to deal with you fairly and settle for an appropriate amount.

5. You may need to go to court.

Although most cases do settle, not all do, and it may be necessary to go to court to win your case. Even if a trial is unlikely, it is important to prepare for that eventuality from day one. This is what successful personal injury attorneys do. From the very start, we prepare your case as if it is going to trial. This approach put us in the best bargaining position to extract the most favorable settlement from the insurance company. If an appropriate figure cannot be reached, then we are ready to go trial and in a position to win a judgment or jury verdict in your favor. Hiring an attorney at the last minute to represent you does not put you in the best position for success. Hiring experienced South Carolina injury lawyers from the very start does.