If you were injured or have lost a loved one in a car crash in South Carolina, you may pursue compensation for your damages through a car accident or wrongful death lawsuit.
The South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm are standing by to help you. Read on for more information about how we can help you recover damages.
The Hughey Law Firm’s Car Accident Successes
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, a traffic accident takes place in the state every 3.7 minutes, an accident involving injuries every 13.3 minutes, and a fatal traffic accident every 9.5 hours. Around 1,000 people die each year in South Carolina due to traffic accidents and more than 60,000 are injured.
Nathan Hughey founded the Hughey Law Firm in 2007 with the belief that if someone was injured in one of those South Carolina car accidents and they didn’t cause the crash, they shouldn’t have to pay for the treatments and therapy needed to recover.
Since then, he and his firm have recovered almost $150 million for their clients, including settlements and judgments of:
We cannot promise that your results will mirror those we listed above because the outcome of your case will depend on the facts involved. Every case must be evaluated on their own merits. Still, we think they demonstrate the kind of firm we are—absolutely committed to recovering everything our clients need to pay their bills and put their lives back together.
Types of Car Accidents
Common types of car accidents include:
- Head-on collisions: While they make up a small percentage of the total number of accidents each year, head-on collisions are disproportionately responsible for the fatalities suffered in traffic collisions. Head-ons occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the front of another. This type of accident is often caused by wrong-way driving, or a prior collision that forces one of the vehicles into an oncoming traffic lane. Fatigue or drunk driving can also cause a driver to drift into oncoming traffic. One of the reasons head-on collisions are so deadly is that the forward motion of both vehicles at the time of the crash increases the force of the collision, and therefore the severity.
- Broadside accidents: Broadside accidents occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another. Also known as t-bone accidents or side-impact collisions, broadsides generally occur in an intersection when one driver has failed to yield the right-of-way to another driver. Broadside accidents can result in severe injury, with the highest risk of injury posed to individuals sitting on the side of the vehicle that is struck. These accidents are particularly dangerous when there is a large size discrepancy between the vehicles involved in the collision. For example, the severity of a broadside crash is likely to be much greater if the crash involves a small passenger car being struck broadside by a commercial truck rather than two similarly-sized vehicles colliding.
- Sideswipe accidents: Sideswipe accidents occur when the side of one vehicle makes contact with the side of another vehicle. This type of accident often occurs while one vehicle is attempting to pass another vehicle. Upon overtaking the other vehicle, the driver of the passing vehicle then attempts to re-enter the travel lane and fails to ensure that they have enough space to re-enter the lane without colliding with the vehicle they overtook. Sideswipe accidents can also occur when one vehicle drifts into an adjacent travel lane or during a lane change when the driver has failed to ensure that the lane is clear.
- Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of two-car accidents and involve the front of one vehicle making contact with the rear of another. Following too closely—also known as tailgating—is the most common reason for this type of accident. Vehicles require a certain distance to come to a safe stop. If a driver is following another vehicle too closely, they may not have enough time to notice the lead vehicle suddenly braking or enough distance to bring the car to a safe stop before a collision occurs.
- Rollover accidents: Rollovers are a common side effect of other types of accidents, particularly single-car accidents in which the vehicle has left the roadway. Rollovers can be tripped or untripped. In tripped rollovers, the tire area of the vehicle struck something such as another vehicle, a median, or a guardrail, which resulted in the car rolling over. In untripped rollovers, the vehicle rolled as the result of other factors, often a high center of gravity combined with too much speed and a sharp corner. Either type of rollover is more likely for vehicles with high centers of gravity, such as SUVs, vans, pickups, or commercial trucks.
- Single car accidents: When only one vehicle is involved in an accident, it is referred to as a single-car accident. This term can be misleading, as accidents involving a vehicle striking a pedestrian or bicyclist are referred to as single-car accidents. Accidents can occur when a vehicle strikes an object—such as a person, bicycle, parked car, or tree—or can involve the vehicle leaving the roadway due to driver impairment, fatigue, or an attempt to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
- Chain reaction/pileup accidents: If three or more vehicles are involved in an accident, it is often referred to as a chain-reaction crash. Accidents involving several vehicles are considered pileups. Inclement weather is often a factor in this type of accident. Generally, chain-reaction accidents occur when two vehicles are involved in a collision and either the force of the collision pushes the front car into other vehicles, or a collision creates a blockage in the roadway that other vehicles can’t avoid.
What Causes Car Accidents?
Just as there are a lot of different types of car accidents, there are a lot of reasons why they occur, as well. Most of these reasons are the result of human error, which causes the vast majority of car accidents.
Some common causes of car accidents include:
- Impaired driving: Drunk driving crashes result in the deaths of more than 10,000 people each year in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol impairment doesn’t begin when the person reaches the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. Instead, it begins with the first drink, and the impacts on a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle become more pronounced as impairment increases.
- Driver fatigue: Drowsy driving causes the deaths of around 800 people each year and thousands of injuries. The most common cause of driver fatigue is insufficient rest, and those at the highest risk of causing an accident due to fatigue are night shift workers and long-haul truck drivers who are often working during their body’s natural sleep cycle. Sleep apnea, a breathing condition in which breathing temporarily pauses several times during sleep, is also a frequent cause of fatigued driving.
- Distracted driving: Driving distractions are anything that pulls the driver’s attention away from the safe operation of their motor vehicle. There are three categories of distraction: manual, which is anything that causes the driver to take their hands from the wheel; visual, which is anything that draws the driver’s eyes from the task of scanning the roadway; and cognitive, which is anything that takes the driver’s mind and focus away from driving.
- Speeding: Driving too fast for conditions is also a common cause of car accidents. Speeding not only reduces the amount of time a driver has to perceive and respond to a roadway hazard, but also requires additional distance for the vehicle to stop after the driver has engaged the brakes. Speeding also increases the force and severity of the collision and causes the vehicle’s protective features, including airbags and seat belts, to work less effectively.
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway: Unfamiliarity with the roadway and getting lost often result in a driver making careless errors such as darting across several travel lanes to make a rapidly approaching exit or performing a U-turn in an unauthorized location. It can also lead to wrong-way crashes if a driver fails to see one-way road signs.
- Road rage/ aggressive driving: Often used interchangeably, the terms road rage and aggressive driving actually refer to two different, and dangerous, driving practices. Aggressive driving often occurs in heavy traffic congestion and can include driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, improper lane changes, and red light running. Road rage involves attempting to punish another driver by yelling, honking, deliberately tailgating, or refusing to let a driver pass.
- Failure to yield: Failure to yield the right-of-way is often a driver error that takes place at an intersection by running a red light or stop sign, and is another major cause of car accidents in South Carolina and the rest of the nation. Other failure-to-yield accidents occur when an individual pulls out of a private driveway or parking lot without ensuring that there is a sufficient gap in traffic in which to do so.
Car Accident Claims in South Carolina
Those who are injured by someone else’s careless or reckless actions can recover compensation after a car accident through a car accident claim. This is a type of lawsuit filed in civil court in which the claimant must prove the at-fault party’s liability by showing that the at-fault party owed a duty of care—such as driving safely and legally—to the injured person, the at-fault party breached that duty of care, and the breach caused the accident and resulting expenses.
In South Carolina, accident victims generally have three years after the injury occurs to file a car accident lawsuit.
The damages victims may be eligible to seek in a car accident case in South Carolina include:
- Medical expenses.
- Loss of wages due to being too injured to work or forced to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury results in a permanent disability that renders the injured person can’t do the same work as they could before the accident.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the injured person’s vehicle.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Mental or emotional distress.
- Loss of companionship or consortium, which is a damage collected on behalf of the injured person’s spouse due to loss of physical intimacy or companionship caused by the severity of the victim’s injuries.
- In some cases in which the defendant’s carelessness or recklessness was particularly egregious, the plaintiff may also seek to recover punitive damages that are not related to the injuries they suffered but are instead designed to punish the at-fault driver for their behavior.
Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina
Losing a loved one—particularly one who has provided care and support for other members of the family—is an emotionally and financially devastating event. The family members of an individual who has been killed in a car accident as the result of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness can seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
In South Carolina, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by an administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the family members. As with car accident lawsuits, wrongful death claims hinge on the ability to prove liability and generally must be filed within three years after the date of the accident that resulted in death.
Some of the damages that can be recovered through this type of claim include:
- Medical expenses incurred during treatment of the deceased’s final injuries.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of income.
- Loss of care and affection.
- Emotional distress experienced by the family members due to the deceased’s unexpected death.
South Carolina Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Upon first experiencing a car accident, it is not unusual to have many questions in your head such as: “Is anyone hurt?” or “How bad is the damage to my car?” After a while, however, the reality of the situation sinks in and the questions become even more serious: “How am I going to pay my medical bills?” “Am I ever going to go back to work again?”
There is a legal process designed to compensate accident victims for their injuries, expenses, and life impacts after a car accident while holding the at-fault party financially responsible for causing the accident. Here are some of the questions we are most commonly asked regarding car accidents and car accident cases. As always, consult an experienced attorney for answers to questions about your specific case.
How are car accidents caused?
The most common cause of car accidents is human error. That, however, is a broad category that can include driving behaviors such as:
- Distracted driving: This includes anything that draws the driver’s hands, eyes, or attention from the roadway, such as texting or other cell phone use, eating or drinking, visiting with another passenger, dealing with a pet or child in the car, adjusting the vehicle or stereo controls, or external distractions such as previous accidents, billboards, or people.
- Alcohol impairment: Alcohol causes deficits in the skills needed for driving, including the ability to steer and brake properly, control speed and stay in one’s own travel lane, respond quickly in emergency driving situations, and focus on the road and the act of driving safely.
- Fatigued driving: Often experienced by night-shift workers and truck drivers, driver fatigue is a problem for any driver who suffers from a condition such as sleep apnea or simply hasn’t gotten enough sleep recently. Fatigue creates many of the same driving deficits as alcohol impairment, including decreased response time, difficulty staying in one’s lane, and trouble keeping one’s attention on the task of driving.
- Speeding: Driving faster than the posted speed limit or too fast for the conditions of the road are major causes of car accidents across the U.S., with speeding reported as a factor in around a quarter of all accidents. Speeding not only increases the distance needed for the car to stop safely, but also decreases the amount of time that a driver has to see and react to roadway hazards. Speeding also reduces the effectiveness of the vehicle’s protective features, including seat belts and airbags.
- Failure to yield: Drivers are legally required to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and even to bicyclists and pedestrians in certain circumstances, including at red lights, at stop signs, at crosswalks, during left turns, during U-turns, and when pulling out of private driveways or parking lots.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving is a category of unsafe driving practices that drivers engage in, generally in an attempt to get through traffic quickly. Some forms of aggressive driving include speeding, tailgating, making improper lane changes, taking improper turns, and red-light running. While not the same as aggressive driving, road rage often leads to many of the same behaviors, as well as attempts to punish other drivers by honking, yelling, gesturing, or even attempting to bump or ram another vehicle off of the roadway.
How do I prove that someone else was liable for my injuries?
To prove another party’s liability in an accident, you must prove that:
- The other party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on the other party’s role in your accident. For example, drivers owe each other a duty of care to operate a motor vehicle in a safe and legal manner.
- The other party breached this duty of care. For example, another driver was speeding, which is not only against the law but also dangerous to other people traveling on the roadway.
- This breach caused the accident and your resulting injuries and expenses.
Can there be more than one source of liability in my accident?
Yes. Car accidents are often not simple events caused solely by a single person’s actions. Instead, they can involve:
- The drivers of other vehicles who may not have been involved in the accident, but whose actions may have contributed to the accident.
- The company that the liable driver worked for if they were a delivery person and the accident occurred while they were out on delivery.
- A business establishment that furnished alcohol to a minor or to someone for whom it was reasonably foreseeable that they would be involved in an accident because of the alcohol. While South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop law, injured people have made successful claims against liquor establishments for the injuries they suffered when a drunk driver caused an accident.
- The manufacturer or distributor of defective auto parts can sometimes be liable if a parts failure causes an accident. Product liability laws require that manufacturers and distributors ensure that their products are safe for consumers when used properly.
- Governmental entities tasked with maintaining roadways can sometimes be held liable if an unmarked roadway defect resulted in the accident.
I was partially responsible for my accident. Does this prevent me from filing a claim?
No. In South Carolina, even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you can still file a claim. However, your settlement or award will be reduced in accordance with your percentage of responsibility.
My spouse/parent/child was killed in a car accident. Is there compensation available for me?
There may be. In South Carolina, the family members of individuals killed in car accidents someone else caused can pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Like other car accident claims, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within three years after the accident occurred. This type of claim can be filed by the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate on behalf of family members.
The damages you can seek to recover with this type of lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses related to treatment of the deceased’s final injury.
- Loss of companionship and support.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of income that would have been earned by the deceased and used to support their loved ones had they not died.
Do I need an attorney to seek compensation in my case?
Absolutely! If you are injured in a car accident, an attorney can provide important services for you, including:
- Establishing a value to your case.
- Determining all sources of liability and insurance resources.
- Collecting evidence and deposing witnesses.
- Negotiating with the liable party’s insurance company to obtain a fair settlement for you.
- Timely filing necessary paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
- Assisting you in understanding the pros and cons of accepting any settlement offer you receive.
- Attending all pre-trial conferences or hearings.
- Presenting your case in court.
- Assisting you in collecting your settlement or award.
- Continuing to represent you if the defendant in your case files an appeal.
If I hire an attorney, does that mean my case is going to court?
No. In fact, the vast majority of personal injury cases settle before a judge or jury reaches a verdict. Many of these cases are settled before the trial even begins. However, some settlements are not offered until after the trial is in progress. While this is true for most cases, approximately 5% of personal injury cases will, in fact, get to trial. Your attorney should be experienced and comfortable with both settlement negotiations and litigation.
What is the average car accident settlement?
There is no average settlement. Each settlement is based on the unique facts of the case involved. The factors that may change the amount the insurance company offers you include:
- The liable party’s insurance coverage. Insurance is how most accident victims recover compensation for their injuries. While it is possible to file a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, collecting a settlement or award from that person may be very difficult.
- Your age and health before the accident.
- The severity of your injuries and the extent of required medical treatment. Injury severity not only tends to increase medical expenses, but also increases related non-economic expenses, which are compensation for the impacts that the injury has on your life.
- How much work you are required to miss due to your injuries. An accident involving permanent disability and the injured person’s inability to return to work will almost always result in a higher settlement than an accident in which the individual misses very little time from work.
How long does it take to settle a car accident case?
Just like there is no average settlement amount, there is no average amount of time it takes to settle a car accident case in South Carolina. Often, settlement negotiations require patience. Insurance companies are reluctant to settle and frequently will only do so when it becomes apparent that the case is going to go to court and there is a chance that the company will lose the case. It is not uncommon for a settlement to be reached while the trial is taking place.
The liable party in my car accident was arrested for drunk driving. Can I still sue?
Yes, you can still file a car accident claim. An arrest for drunk driving is a criminal proceeding. The criminal case is investigated by the police and prosecuted by the local, state, or federal government. The conviction results in financial penalties for the offense, costs for court proceedings, and other penalties including incarceration, probation, license suspension, and more.
A car accident claim is a civil lawsuit. Instead of seeking a conviction for a crime, the plaintiff in the case seeks to prove that the other party is liable for the accident and seeks compensation for the damages the liable party caused. It is not uncommon for a drunk driver to face criminal conviction and civil liability for the same accident in separate court proceedings.
The liable party in my case offered to pay me not to file a claim with their insurance. Should I accept?
No. You should never accept cash in lieu of filing an insurance claim. You are at risk of not receiving the cash as promised, and can run into difficulty if the amount you are given is not enough to cover your expenses. Instead, you should obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license number, the name of their insurance carrier, their insurance policy number, and the vehicle’s registration information. Then, you should file your claim in the legally accepted manner.
I was offered a quick settlement. Would it be easier to just accept that amount?
It likely would be easier in the short term, but it isn’t advisable. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Reducing the amount that they pay out on claims is one of the ways they do this.
A quick settlement seldom takes into consideration the full picture of the accident, the injuries you suffered, and the impacts that those injuries will have on your life. If you accept this early settlement offer without knowing the value of your case, you can find yourself without enough money to cover all of your expenses. Settlements are a one-shot deal—once you accept the offer, you can’t go back and ask for more money if it is not enough.
If you were injured in a car accident, let us provide answers to your legal questions. For a free case evaluation, contact us now.
Let the Hughey Law Firm’s South Carolina Car Accident Attorneys Help
Car accidents resulting in death or injury cause an incredible amount of fear and stress. Let the experienced car accident attorneys at Hughey Law Firm help alleviate some of these feelings by helping you to understand the legal options that are available to you.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (843) 881-8644.
“Thank you Hughey Law Firm! It was a pleasure to work with you on my case! From the beginning, every contact I had with your firm was professional, kind, helpful, and painless! I always felt kept in the loop, and important to you as a client. If you are looking for a personal injury attorney with integrity, I would highly recommend Hughey Law Firm!”
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