Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Charleston County, South Carolina
Despite the general rule of pedestrian right of way, careless drivers continue to hit people crossing or walking along South Carolina streets, causing serious injury and death. In 2010, 13 South Carolina pedestrians were killed and another 1,744 were injured, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
The Charleston, South Carolina firm of Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C., has experience representing those injured in motor vehicle accidents – and we know that sometimes drivers are responsible for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. If you were injured by a negligent motorist while walking along or crossing an South Carolina street, call our firm today at 843-300-7600 or contact us via email for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights.
Pedestrians have certain rights in South Carolina; drivers are required to stop for pedestrians at all crosswalks (whether marked or unmarked). However, not all drivers observe these rights, and the many factors involved in pedestrian accidents include:
Speeding – the higher the speed the harder it is to stop and more severe pedestrian injuries are likely.
Elderly drivers – pedestrian injury rates are higher when you factor in the age of the driver, often because older drivers have vision problems.
Alcohol – Either the driver or the pedestrian can contribute by being intoxicated.
Low light conditions – Pedestrians are struck more often during the evening and other times of poor visibility.
Many drivers will attempt to blame the accident on the pedestrian to avoid legal liability. Their attempt to deflect blame can be infuriating to the pedestrian recovering from such serious injuries as:
- Severe head trauma
- Brain damage
- Leg injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck and back injuries
Sharing the Road
The South Carolina Driver’s Manual outlines the rules of the road that all drivers must follow, and it specifically addresses sharing the road with pedestrians, including children. It states that all drivers are responsible for taking every precaution and for looking out for people who are on foot. Further, drivers – upon noticing pedestrians or children near the roadway – should reduce their speed and be prepared to stop.
South Carolina Driving Codes
South Carolina provides further pedestrian protections via enforced driver precautions in its Code of Laws:
- Section 56-5-3230 – Driver’s to exercise due care
This section determines that every driver must exercise due care in avoiding collision with every pedestrian and cyclist, must use an audible signal whenever necessary, and must enlist appropriate precaution whenever driving near a child or person who is obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated.
- Section 56-5-1520 – General rules as to maximum speed limits; lower speeds may be required
This section states that no driver should assume any speed that is not reasonable and prudent under the driving conditions that are present at the time and in relation to the actual and potential danger that might exist. Such speed must be kept under control to avoid colliding with pedestrians and others. Further, drivers must reduce their speed appropriately whenever approaching and crossing intersections, railroad crossings, and narrow bridges; whenever approaching and taking a curve, approaching a hillcrest, or driving on a narrow or winding road; or whenever a special hazard for pedestrians or others exists due to weather or highway conditions.
South Carolina case law goes further in these protections by emphasizing that everyone operating a motor vehicle on a public highway has the urgent duty to be on appropriate lookout and to keep their vehicles under proper control. Case law finds that negligence, as a matter of law, is established when the only reasonable inference to be made is that the driver either didn’t look or looked in such a careless way that he or she didn’t see what he or she plainly should have seen.
In South Carolina, drivers have the legal responsibility to stop immediately – or to stay as close to the scene as feasible – if they’ve been in any accident that results in an injury. Further, drivers must give their contact information, including registration number, to the injured party or to the police, show their driver’s license upon request, provide reasonable assistance to the injured person – including either taking the victim or arranging for medical assistance if it’s requested or if there’s an apparent need. Anyone who fails to comply with these requirements could face criminal charges:
- Misdemeanor – if the accident results in injury, the at-fault driver can face misdemeanor charges with attendant jail time of between thirty days to one year and a fine of $100 to $500.
- Felony – If the accident results in great bodily injury, or disabling injury, the at-fault driver can face felony charges with attendant imprisonment of up to ten years and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000. If the accident results in death, the at-fault driver can face imprisonment of up to 25 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
Additionally, if the crash does cause injury or death, the driver must immediately and by the quickest means of communication notify the authorities. For crashes that involve only property damage, drivers still have the duty to stay on the scene, to leave their appropriate contact information, and/or to report the accident.
Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities
If you are hurt by a negligent driver in South Carolina, you may be owed compensation for your resultant medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other injuries that you might suffer. Pedestrians not only have rights, they also have responsibilities to follow posted pedestrian rules, to use crosswalks and to follow their lights and indicators, and to employ reasonable caution. In some pedestrian accidents, the pedestrian is found to share a portion of the fault. Even if you are found to share some of the fault, you may still be eligible for compensation. Your recovery amount will be reduced according to how your blame is apportioned; you would be barred from recovery only if your fault is found to exceed that of the driver.
Hit and Run
What can you do if you’re injured by a driver who flees the scene? Unfortunately, drivers sometimes do take off without fulfilling their legal and ethical responsibilities. Often these drivers are impaired, driving with a revoked or suspended license, or lack the requisite insurance. Sometimes drivers even fail to recognize that they’ve struck someone.
If the at-fault party cannot be found, your first line of defense for compensation – the driver’s car insurance – is likewise unavailable. At this point, your own car insurance’s uninsured motorist (UM) coverage will kick in. Your insurance company should cover – up to your UM limits – what the driver’s insurance was meant to cover in the first place. As stressful as being involved in a pedestrian accident is and as much as you don’t need further complications, it sometimes happens that even your own insurer will challenge your pedestrian-accident claim. Don’t leave your pedestrian-accident claim to chance, seek experienced legal counsel with expertise in pedestrian-accident cases.
Your Pedestrian Accident Case
If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, you know how traumatizing it can be. You deserve rightful legal compensation, and the stakes are too high not to engage a skilled pedestrian accident attorney who will determinedly fight for your rights. Pedestrian accidents are often highly complex, and the apportioning of fault can be nuanced and exacting. If a negligent driver has caused you injury, an experienced Charleston, South Carolina legal firm with expertise in pedestrian accidents can help. Call the Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. today; we care about you and your pedestrian accident claim.
Coping with your medical issues may be challenging enough without handling a legal claim or dealing with uncooperative insurance adjusters. Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. wants to help you.
If you are injured as a pedestrian because a driver failed to obey traffic laws, you have rights under the laws of the State of South Carolina and you may be entitled to compensation. At Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C., we conduct thorough accident investigations to determine who is at fault. Attention to detail can be the difference between a successful claim and an unsuccessful one. We will seek to prove the driver was speeding or inattentive, even when the driver states otherwise. If the driver’s insurance company attempts to refuse your claim, we will deal with them directly – we know how to deal with insurance companies from prior experience and we will seek proper compensation on your behalf.
If you have suffered serious injury as the result of a pedestrian accident, the Charleston, SC firm of Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. can help you make informed decisions about your legal rights. As our client, you will receive attentive and compassionate legal help. Please call us today at 843-300-7600 or contact us via email for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. serves all of South Carolina, including Charleston County and surrounding areas.