Most of us go through our days unaware of the frequency that car accidents happen at. In 2016, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety recorded over 140,000 collisions in the state of South Carolina, which is equivalent to one traffic collision every 3.7 minutes. This rate is alarming–and that’s just in our state alone.
A car accident can quickly turn you and your family’s lives upside down. While you struggle to recover from the physical and emotional pain of a serious crash, you may be faced with expensive medical bills and a reduced income caused by an inability to work. If you’re in this predicament, a Columbia car accident lawyer can potentially help.
The attorneys at Solomon Law Group can help you recover monetary damages from the person or entity that acted negligently and caused your crash. This compensation can help you pay your accident-related bills and expenses, leaving you free to focus on your recovery.
Understanding Why Car Accidents Happen in South Carolina
While a car accident can happen at any time even under ideal driving conditions, there are certain factors and circumstances that contribute to most car accidents in our state. These include:
- Distracted Driving. Any activity that could divert a driver’s attention away from the primary task of focusing on the road is considered a distraction. The most common distraction involves the use of a cell phone to talk, text, or otherwise communicate. South Carolina law deems it unlawful to use a wireless communication device to communicate text-based information while operating a vehicle.
- Impaired Driving. Drivers who consume alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances experience a reduction in their ability to react to traffic conditions as well as an impairment of their judgment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,870 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver from 2003-2012.
- Disobeying Traffic Rules and Control Devices. Drivers who are in a hurry or who are not paying attention can drive their vehicles too fast or carelessly for the prevailing road conditions or may ignore control devices telling them to stop or yield. This can cause a collision with other drivers who are obeying the law and driving responsibly. South Carolina’s traffic laws have been established under Title 56 of the Code of Law.
- Aggressive Driving. Reckless or aggressive drivers caused nearly 29,000 wrecks in 2016. Habits of an aggressive driver may include tailgating, making frequent or unsafe lane changes, failing to signal, failing to yield the right of way, or disregarding traffic controls. Road rage also contributes to car accidents because a driver focuses more on taking out their anger than driving safely. They could try to run someone off the road or purposely block them from making a turn that they need to take.
- Speeding. When a driver speeds, they are decreasing the control they have over their vehicle. They will not be able to stop as quickly as if they were going the speed limit, and they may have difficulty navigating sharp curves or icy road conditions. Just in 2016, over 42,000 crashes resulted from speeding.
- Inexperienced Drivers. New drivers may not be used to driving on highways, in heavy traffic, or even be used to having other people in the car. If they don’t practice driving skills and build up their confidence, they could make mistakes that lead to automobile collisions.
- Night Driving. Driving at night time is more difficult than driving during the day. Drivers need to get used to having lower visibility and depending on their headlights so they can safely navigate their vehicles.
- Failure to Check Blind Spots. When drivers need to turn or change lanes, they may check their rearview mirrors but not the blind spot in the back mirror. If someone thinks they’re alone on the road and didn’t notice a car behind them, they could turn into the vehicle.
Many collisions result in one or more of the following outcomes:
- Damage to property, such as cars that were damaged or totaled
- Minor injuries to occupants, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Serious or catastrophic injuries, like spine and neck injuries and traumatic brain injuries
Determining how a car accident occurred is an important step in assigning fault. If you decide to file a lawsuit against the guilty driver or an insurance company who may be treating you unfairly, your attorney will need to determine how exactly the crash occurred and how it could have been prevented. Solid evidence is required for this step, which your injury lawyer can obtain.
Recognizing the Types of Common Collisions
The type of wreck you’re in can significantly impact the damage and injuries sustained. While some accidents may only result in minor injuries, others could potentially change lives permanently.
- Rear-End Collision. If someone is tailgating you or not paying attention at a traffic light, they could hit the back end of your vehicle in the event you need to stop quickly, or if they are going too fast and cannot stop in time. Rear-end collisions often result in injuries like whiplash.
- Sideswipe. Sideswipe accidents happen when two cars traveling next to each other make contact. This happens most often on highways, where there are multiple lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.
- Side-Impact Crash. When a vehicle is struck from the side by the front or behind of another vehicle, this is considered a side-impact crash or a T-bone collision. Injuries and property damage are common.
- Rollover Accident. Rollovers happen when a vehicle flips onto its roof or side. A combination of high speeds and sharp turns are often found to be the culprit. While all vehicles are subject to this kind of accident, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and tractor trailers are more susceptible because of their higher center of gravity.
- Multi-Vehicle Pile-Ups. Pile-ups generally occur on highways and freeways because of the speed at which traffic travels. When two cars collide, the surrounding vehicles may be unable to stop and may make impact. It can be difficult to determine liability in these instances because of the number of vehicles and drivers involved.
- Head-On Collisions. When two vehicles collide head-to-head, the consequences are almost always devastating. These accidents are often caused by distractions and intoxication.
Regardless of your accident, your Columbia car accident lawyer will find out what happened, why it happened, and how the other person was negligent. You shouldn’t have to worry about another person’s mistakes.
Knowing What to Do After a Wreck in South Carolina
Even though car accidents are jarring and terrifying, the next steps you take after the accident could help you with your claim down the road. Having an idea of what you need to do will help you if you ever find yourself in this situation in the future.
- Check for injuries. Assess if you or anyone else is hurt. Call 911 if anyone needs immediate medical care. Remember that not all injuries are visible or noticeable right away. Even if you do not seek immediate medical attention, you should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible.
- Get out of traffic. Car accidents can create a lot of congestion on the road. If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road and out of the way of traffic.
- Call the police. An official police report will need to be made if $1,000 in property damage, injury, or death occurs. Law enforcement will find who was at fault and you can use this when you file a claim. When you’re explaining what happened, only report the facts. Don’t try to fill in gaps that you don’t know or remember. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell the officer you don’t know a particular detail. Guessing could lead to inaccuracies that could hurt you in the future.
- Don’t apologize. You might want to apologize about the situation, even if you’re not at fault. Apologizing implies you’re at fault and could reduce your compensation later.
- Take photos. Photograph everything that you can. This includes the scene, close-ups of the damage, and your injuries. Take more photos than you think necessary.
- Exchange information. Speak to the other parties involved in the auto Get names, addresses, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information from the other parties. You’ll also need the details of the vehicles in the crash.
- Get witness information. Get names, addresses, and contact information of eyewitnesses if they want to provide their account. Eyewitnesses aren’t obligated to give their side of the story; however, if they choose to speak with you or police, they may be able to provide additional information that can be used to determine fault. Your lawyer may wish to use their account of what happened when you file your claim.
Recovering From Common Car Crash Injuries
While a car accident could result in a multitude of injuries, there are physical injuries that are more common depending on the type of accident and force of impact.
- Head and Neck Injuries. The severity of a head or neck injury can vary significantly. While a rear-end accident could result in whiplash that will heal over a period of weeks or months, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) could leave someone permanently disabled.
- Back and Spine Injuries. Any damage to the spinal cord can be serious. While some victims may experience reduced sensation or control over their limbs for a period of time, others could become permanently paralyzed.
- Bruises and Lacerations. In a minor accident, you’re likely to walk away with some bumps and bruises. Serious lacerations, especially those on the face, may require stitches.
- Broken Bones. It’s fairly common to sustain a fracture after an auto While some broken bones can heal with the help of a cast and eventually physical therapy, other severe breaks may require surgery.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Pain can be severe when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are stretched or torn in a crash.
We understand how difficult it can be physically, emotionally, and financially to recover from injuries. Your car accident attorney will help you file a car accident claim that can put you on the path to receiving the compensation you need so you can focus on healing and getting your life back in order.
Determining Collision Liability in South Carolina
South Carolina operates under modified comparative fault law when it comes to determining who can be deemed legally responsible for an auto wreck. This means that a person who is less than 50 percent at fault for an accident may file a claim against the opposing party and receive compensation. If the victim, however, is found to be at fault for a small percentage of the accident, that will affect their compensation eligibility.
For example, if the fault for a collision is determined to be 70 percent and 30 percent, the party who is only at fault for 30 percent of the accident will be eligible for compensation for 70 percent of the damages incurred.
Obtaining Compensation After a Car Crash
Bringing a car accident claim and, if necessary, a lawsuit in South Carolina can result in you being awarded monetary damages. You obtain financial compensation when you either settle your case with the at-fault party for a specific sum of money or when you prove the following to a judge or jury:
- The defendant owed you or your loved one a “duty of care” requiring them to operate their vehicle in a lawful, reasonable, safe, and careful manner.
- The defendant breached this duty of care by instead operating their vehicle in a careless or negligent manner.
- The defendant’s careless actions caused you or your loved one to suffer an injury or resulted in your loved one’s wrongful death.
Citizens in Columbia deserve to know that their rights are protected. By following the above steps, you can rest assured that the other party will be held accountable for their actions.
Strengthening Your Auto Accident Claim
Inform your insurance provider and the other party’s insurance provider about the crash as soon as possible after the incident. Once your lawyer files your claim, an adjuster will be assigned to your case. They will investigate the accident and determine how much the insurance company thinks you are owed. You want your claim to be as substantial as possible. There are ways to reinforce your claim.
- Provide a police report. As the police gather their information, you might find out more about the collision from the report. It could show the other party’s definitive fault.
- Use photos of the accident and injuries. Your photos of the accident and the injuries you’ve sustained will show how the accident affected you.
- Give copies of medical documents. Your medical records can show what injuries you incurred in the car crash. Your trial lawyer will get copies of documentation for required prescriptions or physical therapy because of the crash, as those are included in your medical expenses.
- Don’t speak with insurance adjusters. Their job is to get you to settle for as little as possible. You can have your lawyer facilitate communication between you and the insurance company. You don’t have to worry about intimidation or saying something that can be used against your claim.
Because there are ways you may jeopardize your claim, it’s imperative to have a South Carolina car accident lawyer at your side so you can make sure that you can fight to get full compensation.
Knowing When to Seek Legal Aid
If you or a loved one has been in a vehicle wreck, you have the right to seek legal representation. A skilled car crash lawyer from Solomon Law Group can help you file your claim, so you can get compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, and more.
When you decide to file a claim, you’re letting the negligent driver know that their actions or inactions had severe consequences. Your decision to seek compensation might make them reconsider their driving behavior in the future. This could potentially make them a safer driver and make the road safer for everyone.
If you’re prepared to file your claim or have questions about the legal process, we’re here for you. Contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule a free consultation. We’ll be able to evaluate your case and help you determine how best to proceed.