Posts

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.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States. A car accident, even one that seems relatively minor, can result in fairly serious injuries. Oftentimes, however, those involved in these types of accidents don’t notice their injuries until later on. This frequently happens for the same reason athletes may not feel injured while they are in the middle of a game; the adrenaline rush.

You have most likely seen or heard stories of football players finishing a game with a broken ankle or broken leg, then not being able to move and requiring surgery after the game. The adrenaline rush of being “in the zone” allows athletes to minimize the pain in their minds and keep powering through while the game is still going on. Auto accidents can create a similar situation for some who are involved. When you crash into another vehicle, you are startled, your heart starts to race, and your mind is intently focused on dealing with the situation.

In the heat of the moment, you may feel only minor aches and pains, if anything at all. But in the coming days, you begin to experience neck and back pain and start to wonder what’s causing it. This is where many who are involved in auto accidents make a mistake. They believe that, just because they felt little (if any) pain at the scene of the accident, the pain they are feeling now must be minor. In many cases, however, this is the sign of a more serious injury.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Accident?

If you are starting to feel neck and back pain (particularly pain in your lower back) after an auto accident, this is often due to a whiplash injury. Whiplash is the rapid, jerky back-and-forth motion experienced by many vehicle occupants during a collision. Whiplash can cause injuries to the neck and several areas of the back. The effects of these injuries can last for days, weeks, or even months.

The extent and severity of a whiplash injury depends largely on the speed at which the vehicles collide, the ability for vehicle occupants to “brace” for the collision, how soon those involved are treated for their injuries, and other factors.

Symptoms of whiplash can occur immediately after an accident, but as we discussed earlier, it can take several hours up to several days in some cases to begin feeling the effects of the injury. Some common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:

The neck and back pain you feel after a car accident is known as discogenic pain. Discogenic pain refers to aches associated with our spinal discs. There are five vertebrae in our lumbar spine with soft discs between each one. These discs serve as a cushioning system and help provide mobility and stability for our body.

Individuals can experience discogenic pain because of gradual deterioration of the spine, or it can happen because of sudden trauma, such as a whiplash injury from a car crash. Some of the most common conditions that may cause neck and back pain after an accident include:

What to Do if you Feel Back and Neck Pain after an Accident

If you or someone close to you was involved in an accident and you are experiencing neck and back pain afterwards, seek qualified medical treatment immediately. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical, and the sooner you see a medical professional, the better the chances of a successful recovery without requiring major procedures such as surgery. After you have received medical help, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

If the accident was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. With these types of cases, insurance companies often contact injured parties soon after the incident with a lowball settlement offer. Before accepting any offers from an insurer, speak to the skilled South Carolina accident injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler. We will thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you will have all the facts before deciding how to proceed. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation 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.