Charleston Car Accident Lawyer

Charleston, SC Auto Accident Attorney

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Oftentimes auto accidents result in personal injuries that significantly alter your well being physically, emotionally and financially. In fact, in the United States the majority of personal injuries are due to motor vehicle accidents. The Charleston SC auto accident lawyers of Hughey Law Firm have represented thousands of clients, helping them to recover damages for their injuries as a result of the auto accident. With this experience you can trust that an auto accident lawyer at Hughey Law Firm will fight hard to win your case.

Consulting an auto accident lawyer with the Hughey Law Firm means that you are consulting with a law firm that has long been the go-to law firm for other lawyers to help them prosecute auto accident cases for their clients. We have extensive experience filing lawsuits and will file a lawsuit while aggressively pursuing your case if appropriate to do so.

Free Consultation • Personal Injury Cases Handled on Contingency*

The personal injury and Charleston auto accident attorneys at the Hughey Law Firm have handled numerous car accident cases involving property damage, injury, wrongful death, and uninsured motorists. We have helped numerous people recover damages for injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Many of our cases come to us from other law firms, as they are searching for an experienced auto accident lawyer in Charleston SC to deliver for their clients.

Our Charleston Auto Accident Attorney Experience

The vast majority of personal injuries in the U.S. result from motor vehicle accidents including cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and personal watercraft. Attorney Nathan Hughey formerly defended car wreck cases and trucking cases for insurance companies. He is an auto accident lawyer in Charleston that uses this experience to effort gaining you the best recovery possible. Our auto accident lawyers in Charleston represent people with car accident injury and wrongful death claims throughout South Carolina. Contact us to arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys.

We represent clients in all types of auto crash accident claims, including:

Car Accident Statistics

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) estimates that a traffic collision occurs on South Carolina roads every 3.7 minutes. Whether you live in Charleston, or somewhere else in South Carolina, you face the risk of being in a car accident at some point in your life. Even when you drive carefully and follow all the traffic regulations, you still have to worry about those with whom you share the road. This guide will dig deeper into the SCDPS’s most recent collision data and provide relevant statistics about car accidents in Charleston and across the state.

How Many Car Accidents Occur in Charleston and Across the State Each Year?

SCDPS estimates 141,874 traffic accidents occurred on South Carolina roads in 2017, a number that has continued to increase each year. Although 2017 only saw 275 more collisions than 2016, the increase in numbers is much more drastic when comparing earlier years. For example, 113,260 traffic crashes occurred in 2013, more than 28,000 less than 2017, representing more than a 25 percent increase in five years. Among 2017’s crashes were 925 fatalities and 39,466 collisions that resulted in injury, a decrease from 2016’s all-time high record of 40,187 injury collisions. When examining the overall collisions, injuries, and fatalities over the 10-year period from 2008 through 2017, each reveals an overall increase from 2008. Charleston County had the most injury collisions (4,391) in the state and the second highest number of total traffic accidents (16,850).

Who Is Involved in Car Accidents in South Carolina?

Drivers of all ages, regardless of gender, might be involved in a car accident in Charleston or elsewhere in South Carolina, but some age groups are more prone to car accidents than others. At least one out of nine drivers under age 24 were involved in a car accident in 2017 and male drivers were involved in more than 70 percent of all fatal crashes. SCDPS provides some of the following crash statistics regarding gender and age:

  • Among male and female drivers, those age 20-24 were involved in the most total traffic accidents in South Carolina in 2017; Females were involved in 16,291 crashes, and males in 17,791 crashes.
  • Among fatal traffic collisions in 2017, age 20-24 females were involved in the most (53) crashes with female drivers, and males age 25-29 were involved in the most crashes (116) with male drivers. This trend is mostly consistent across the five years of SCDPS’s data. Accidents of all types for both genders tend to drop off quite a bit at age 30.

When Do Car Accidents Occur in South Carolina?

You might suffer injury or lose a loved one in a car accident any day, or time, but the data show some times pose more risk with a higher frequency of injury and fatality collisions.

  • Car accident fatalities are more likely to occur on weekends than weekdays, with Friday the day for the most collisions and Saturday the day for the most car-accident related fatalities. In 2017, 504 fatal crashes occurred on Friday through Sunday, with 485 Monday through Thursday.
  • The most common time for a car accident is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This holds true in Charleston County as well as throughout the state. Car accident fatalities are more likely to occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, when 17.8 percent of total accidents occurred in 2017.

Common Types of Car Accidents in Charleston

Traffic accidents happen in Charleston and surrounding areas every day. Every accident is unique in terms of its details. However, some types of car accidents are more common than others—and below we highlight some of the most common motor vehicle accidents we typically see in our law practice.

Rear-End Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board reports that, between 2012 and 2014, nearly half of all two-vehicle accidents in the United States were rear-end collisions. So common are these accidents that researchers estimate a rear-end collision occurs in the United States approximately once every eight seconds. Here is what you need to know about them:Charleston Auto Accident Law Firm

  • NTSB data show rear-end collisions kill about 1,700 people in the United States annually.
  • According to Western National Insurance, rear-end collisions usually occur during the daytime, in clear, unobstructed driving conditions, and involve a lead vehicle that is stopped.
  • More than a third of all crashes are caused, at least in part, by a trailing driver who follows the lead vehicle too closely (a practice often referred to as “riding someone’s tail”).
  • Rear-end accidents tend to be slow impact crashes, earning them the nickname “whiplash accident” due to the soft-tissue neck injuries they commonly cause. In addition to neck injuries, other common rear-end accident injuries include injuries to the spine, knees, face, and brain.
  • An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study conducted in 2018 revealed that texting while driving increases the chances of rear-ending someone by 700 percent.
  • According to information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, vehicles equipped with automatic braking reduce rear-end collisions by about 40 percent. Forward collision warnings likewise cut rear-end accidents by up to 23 percent. At least 700,000 police-reported rear-end crashes could be avoided annually if all vehicles were equipped with an automatic braking system.

Vehicle Rollovers

One particularly dangerous type of car accident is the vehicle rollover. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, while rollover accidents account for only about two percent of all crashes involving passenger cars, SUVs, and pickups, they account for around 35 percent of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes.

Taller and narrower vehicles, such as SUVs, pickups, and vans have a higher center of gravity and are more susceptible to rollovers. NHTSA data reveal that about 40 percent of rollover crashes involve excessive speeding. Fatal rollover accidents are far more common on roadways where the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour or more. About 87 percent of rollover crashes are due to a driver failing to pay attention and respond appropriately to the traffic ahead, a 2007 NHTSA study noted.

Single Car Accidents

Many car accidents involve only one vehicle. A 2009 study by the NHTSA revealed the following facts about this type of crash:

  • There are two general categories of single car accidents,” run-off-the-road” (ROR) and “on-road” (OR). ROR accidents are the more common of the two, as well as the more dangerous, accounting for 70 percent of the fatalities in single car accidents.
  • ROR crashes occur when the vehicle leaves the lane of travel, such as by encroaching on the shoulder, a median, or a parking lane. Many end when the vehicle strikes an object beside the road, such as a tree, utility pole, or barrier.
  • OR crashes, as the name suggests, involve a single vehicle that stays on the roadway. They often involve a vehicle attempting to avoid a collision with a pedestrian, bicyclist, or animal, and may involve a rollover.
  • Factors that increase the chance of a ROR crash include: nighttime driving, weather conditions that cause slippery roads, drivers who are young and male, two or more occupants in the vehicle, road alignment, and fewer and undivided lanes on the roadway.
  • As with other types of accidents, drivers who have been using alcohol are more likely to be involved in ROR accidents, as are speeding vehicles.
  • ROR accidents typically occur where there are curves in the road.
  • More ROR accidents occur on rural roads than in urban areas or on interstates, and on roadways with higher speed limits.
  • Passenger cars are more likely to be involved in fatal single car crashes than vans, pickup trucks, and utility vehicles.

Side Impact Collisions

This type of crash, which is also known as a broadside or T-bone collision, generally occurs when one vehicle runs a red light or otherwise fails to yield the right-of-way at an intersection. In a broadside accident, the front of one vehicle impacts the side of the other. Some of the factors that may cause a broadside accident to result in more severe injuries and death include the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, the relative size and weight of the vehicles, and the location of the point of impact.

Vehicle occupants on the side of the car that absorbs the impact often suffer severe and even fatal injuries, particularly with a size and weight discrepancy between the vehicles. The occupants of passenger cars are more likely to be killed in a T-bone crash than the occupants of pickup trucks, SUVs, or vans, due to size discrepancies in vehicles.

Head-on Collisions

Head-on collisions make up an extremely small number of all traffic crashes. However, they account for more fatalities than many other types of accidents. Head-on collisions involve a vehicle departing from the roadway or the lane in which it was traveling and hitting the front-end of a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. Here are more facts about head-on crashes:

  • About 80 percent of head-on collisions occur on rural, two-lane roads. Head-on collisions make up about 13 percent of all rural fatal crashes.
  • Other common locations for this type of accident include the on-ramp or exit ramp of the freeway, and construction zones.
  • Because head-on collisions rarely involve the vehicles hitting one another directly head on, sometimes the airbags don’t deploy where the protection they offer is most needed. Another deadly facet of this type of accident is that the force of the collision may cause the vehicle to go into a spin, which increases the risk of further damage and injuries.
  • Frontal (head-on) collisions resulted in more than half of all traffic fatalities in 2017, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Damages from head-on collisions are often severe due to the velocity in which the vehicles collide.
  • A 2017 CNBC report noted that the addition of lane departure warning systems as standard protective equipment on cars can reduce the number of head-on, single-vehicle, and sideswipe incidents by up to 11 percent.

Common Injuries Sustained During a Car Accident

According to an April 2018 report from WIS10, South Carolina is the third deadliest state in the nation when it comes to car accidents, with an average death rate of 20.5 per 100,000 people, based on 2016 figures. But deaths aren’t the only tragic result of car accidents in the Palmetto state. Accidents in South Carolina also leave thousands of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists injured annually. Here is a look at common injuries caused by car accidents.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury includes any injury that penetrates or fractures the skull, or that causes the brain to collide with the skull. More than half of all reported traumatic brain injuries are caused by car accidents. One very serious type of traumatic brain injury is blunt trauma, which occurs when a head that is moving violently from the force of the accident collides with a stationary object, such as a windshield. Brainline offers the following information about these injuries:

  • The jarring of the head in an accident causes the brain tissue to become bruised and tears blood vessels.
  • The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are the most likely parts of the brain to become injured.
  • Rapid movement of the brain in a collision can also cause damage to the neuronal axons, which are the threadlike arms of nerve cells in the brain that link cells to one another and link various parts of the brain to each other and to various parts of the body.

Traumatic brain injury can leave its victim with severe cognitive, motor, and emotional deficits. Some victims fall into a coma or permanently lose consciousness.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries from car accidents tend to be very serious, leading to a loss of sensation and function of the body below the area where the damage occurred. Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the spinal column, spinal cord, vertebrae, ligaments, or discs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the severity of a spinal injury is defined by whether or not there is any movement, feeling, or control of the limbs.

  • A complete spinal cord injury is one where all motor and sensory function are lost below the injury.
  • An incomplete spinal cord injury is one where some sensory or motor function exists beneath the injury.

Paralysis from a spinal cord injury is defined as:

  • Tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia) – arms, legs, trunk, hands, and pelvic organs are all affected by the injury.
  • Paraplegia – All or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are affected by the injury.

Some of the bodily functions that may be impacted by a spinal cord injury include:

  • Bowel and bladder function
  • Skin sensation
  • Circulatory control
  • Respiratory system
  • Muscle tone
  • Fitness and wellness
  • Function of the sexual organs

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries can be experienced in car accidents in a number of ways and in numerous parts of the body, and may include:

  • Rib fractures that cause damage to blood vessels or even puncture the lung.
  • Ruptured blood vessels that don’t clot properly and cause internal bleeding.
  • Brain bleeding due to an open or closed head wound.
  • Abdominal aorta aneurysm, which is caused by the stomach being compressed during a crash.
  • Pneumothorax, which happens when the lung becomes punctured, collapses, and causes air to flood the chest cavity.
  • Damage to the kidney or liver due to the force of the accident.

Herniated Disc

Also known as a slipped disc, a herniated disc occurs when the tough, outer fiber of the spinal discs becomes torn and allows the soft, jelly-like substance in the center of the disc to leak out. The symptoms of a herniated disc include:

  • Arm or leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness

The most common area for a herniated disc to occur is in the lower back (lumbar). However, herniated discs may also occur in the neck. Surgery is commonly required to repair the damage from a herniated disc.

Whiplash

As explained by the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that is caused by forceful back and forth motion of the head and neck. Whiplash often presents with symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, and headaches that typically start at the base of the skull. Other symptoms of whiplash may include:

  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulder, upper back, or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Most people find their whiplash symptoms go away within a few weeks. However, for some, the pain can linger for months or even years. The factors that make a person have chronic pain after a whiplash injury include having had whiplash before, older age, existing low back or neck pain, and symptoms that were intense, started rapidly, and included severe neck pain, headaches, and pain that spread to the arms. The most common cause of whiplash is rear-end accidents.

Broken Bones

One of the most common car accident injuries that a person can suffer is broken bones due to sudden impact or twisting. The most common parts of the body to suffer fractures in car accidents include the arms and legs. Other bones may become fractured as well, including:

  • Facial fractures, due to the face coming into contact with the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • The ribs and chest. This area of the body is more likely to be injured in drivers and front seat passengers and the injuries are usually caused by airbags or the seatbelt.
  • The teeth.
  • Wrists and hands.
  • Hip
  • Clavicle. The clavicle is more fragile than a lot of other bones in the body and can easily break in car accidents.
  • The bones in the spine.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Not all car accident injuries are physical. The emotional and mental health of a car accident victim can also suffer, as well. According to Verywell Mind, post-traumatic stress disorder following a vehicle crash is common, with symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of anxiety and an increased heart rate when there is a reminder of the accident.
  • Feeling jumpy or easily startled when driving.
  • Avoiding situations such as driving on the highway.
  • Being more watchful of what is going on around the vehicle.

PTSD symptoms may not show up for weeks or even months following the accident.

Property Damage Claims

In addition to representing you throughout your personal injury or wrongful death claim, an auto accident lawyer at the Hughey Law Firm can also work with the insurance company as your advocate throughout the property damage claims process. A Hughey Law Firm auto accident lawyer will work with your insurance provider towards attaining a fair financial payout for property damages resulting from your accident. These damages could include inconvenience, rental car and other costs associated with losing your transportation. We will never charge a fee for prosecuting automobile property claims.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists

Many drivers on the road today do not carry the legal amount of insurance required to cover the liability and property damage costs of an accident. If you need to file a claim against your own uninsured motorist policy (UM) or underinsured motorist policy (UIM) to recover damages, you will probably find that your insurance company is just as hostile to you as an opposing company would be. A Charleston auto accident lawyer at Hughey Law Firm will work aggressively to help you try to recover the maximum compensation from your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance policy.

South Carolina Car Accident FAQ

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) estimates that a traffic collision occurs on South Carolina roads an average of every 3.7 minutes. Someone dies in a traffic accident every 9.5 hours and an injury-causing collision occurs every 13.3 minutes. Car accidents occur for a variety of reasons, but the vast majority are preventable. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you might have mounting medical bills that insurance didn’t cover, lost wages because of missing work, and emotional stress from your physical pain and the additional financial burden. Sometimes you can overcome overwhelming feelings of helplessness by learning about what actions you can take. Whether you’ve been in a car accident in the last 24 hours or 24 weeks, these frequently asked questions about South Carolina car accidents provide some guidance:

Do I Have to Report My Accident to Law Enforcement?

South Carolina law requires you to report any traffic accident that results in more than $1,000 in property damage, injury, or death. If your car accident was severe, it is likely law enforcement came to the scene of the accident to investigate. In these cases, you don’t need to file a separate report. When law enforcement doesn’t come to the scene, you need to fill out a South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Collision Report (FR-309) and send it to the address on the form within 15 days of the accident.

How Do I Request a Copy of the Accident Report?

Any motorist or occupant involved in a car accident in South Carolina has the right to obtain a copy of the official Officer’s Report. Law enforcement will provide you a report at the scene of the accident, but the Officer’s Report has more detail. For a final copy you must fill out the Request for Officer’s Report (SCDMV Form 50) and mail two copies of it to the address on the form with a $6 check or money order and include the following information on the form:

  • Date of your request
  • Your name
  • Your mailing address
  • Date of the accident
  • County where the accident occurred
  • Name of the driver(s) involved in the accident and driver’s license number(s)
  • Your signature

I Feel Okay. Do I Have to Go to the Doctor?

Minor collisions don’t typically require medical treatment, but when a crash causes considerable property damage, you should always get checked out by a physician. When severe accidents occur, emergency teams will come to the scene and likely take you to the nearest emergency department. If you refuse treatment at the scene and refuse to ride in the ambulance, you still head to the doctor. Common car accident injuries such as whiplash and brain injuries from head trauma don’t always show symptoms. Forgoing medical treatment might cause additional injury. Additionally, medical documentation of injuries provides leverage for settlement negotiations, evidence for insurance claims, and proof of injury for the court if you have to go to trial.

Should I File a Claim Under My Policy Even Though I Didn’t Cause the Crash?

South Carolina is a tort state, meaning those who cause a car accident are liable for damages. In some cases, drivers fear reporting a claim under their own policy because they worry about a rate increase or policy cancellation. Other times, drivers assume that because they didn’t cause the accident, the should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It’s almost always in your best interest to report an accident to your carrier regardless of fault. Many policies have clauses the require you to report all damage where your coverage might apply; failure to do so might result in cancellation. Additionally, if you want to fix your car or replace a totaled car, you will be waiting for some time for the at-fault driver’s carrier to pay out, if ever. Your carrier will typically pay out the claim so you can get repairs and seek reimbursement from the other insurance company.

The Other Driver Isn’t Insured, Now What?

South Carolina law requires motorists to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage with the same limits as the required liability coverage: $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability. Not only does UM coverage protect you if you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, but it also comes into play in hit-and-run accidents. South Carolina does not require underinsured motorist coverage, but insurance agents are required to offer it to you. If a driver doesn’t have adequate limits to cover damages, your underinsured motorist policy will kick in to cover the difference.

What Information Do I Need to File an Insurance Claim?

You can find most of the information that you need to file an insurance claim on your copy of the police report; however, you can maximize the likelihood of recovering some or all of your losses in a claim or lawsuit by collecting some additional information at the scene of the accident, if you are physically able. Some things that will help support your claim include:

  • Name, address, phone, and email of all drivers, occupants, and witnesses at the scene of the accident
  • Photos or videos of damage to vehicles and any visible bodily injuries
  • Photos or videos of potential causes of an accident such as a road hazard or impaired drivers

Should I Accept a Settlement Offer?

The other driver’s insurance company might offer you a settlement rather quickly. This might be a tactic to avoid liability. If the carrier finds their policyholder is at fault, they want you to settle to avoid a large claim or verdict in your favor later on. Initial settlement offers are meant to lure claimants into settling, but they are often far less than full and fair compensation. It’s best to consider the first offer as a jumping off point for negotiations and don’t accept an offer without speaking to your lawyer. Let your attorney handle communication and negotiate the best outcome for your case.

Auto Accident Attorneys In Charleston SC Who Serve All of South Carolina

South Carolina is, unfortunately, a place where many automobile and trucking accidents occur. Roads such as I-26, I-95, U.S. Highway 17, and others converge. We handle cases throughout the State of South Carolina, including Charleston County, Berkeley County, Sumter County, and Dorchester County, as well as Moncks Corner, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Florence, Beaufort, Hilton Head, Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Hartsville, Florence, Orangeburg, Sumter, Williamsburg, Clarendon, Manning, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Allendale, Richland, Hampton, Darlington, Colleton and all other counties. Our auto accident lawyers will work for you on a contingency (no fee unless we collect)* to recover for you or your loved one’s serious injuries or wrongful death.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We do not charge attorney fees or costs until we help you recover money for your claim. An auto accident lawyer from our team at Hughey Law Firm in Charleston SC looks forward to helping you with your accident.

*Fees calculated before expenses.

Contact Hughey Law Firm

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