Going through the experience of a car accident can be one of the scariest that a person experiences. In addition to the fear and anxiety you’ll be processing immediately, there is then the realization that you have damages to your vehicle and, worse, injuries that you and your family will need have addressed.
After getting injured in an accident caused by someone else, you do not deserve the pain and hardship you will suffer. Our accident lawyers offer free case evaluations, during which we can determine if you have a case to pursue compensation beyond what the insurance company is offering you. For the representation of experienced, aggressive auto accident lawyers in South Carolina, please call McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates at 888-353-5513.
Find out more about auto accidents and how our lawyers can help:
- Common Causes of a Car Crash
- When Are You Most Likely To Have a Car Accident?
- Who is Most Likely to Have a Car Accident?
- Preventing a Car Accident
- Common Car Accident Injuries
- Distracted Driving
- DUI Accidents
- What to do After a Car Accident
- Evaluating Your Auto Accident Claim
- Contact Our Lawyers Today
Common Causes of a Car Crash
Car accidents occur because of a variety of reasons, but can often be traced back to negligence on the part of one or both drivers. Oftentimes, car crashes occur because of inclement weather, speeding, or ignoring traffic signage and instruction, but includes the following causes:
- Distracted driving – distracted driving can include the use of any type of technology, eating, drinking, grooming, or interacting with passengers in the vehicle
- Drunk or impaired driving – horrible car accident occur on a regular basis because of drunk driving or because of drivers that are under the influence of drugs
- Speeding – speeding is often a factor in auto accidents as it stops a driver from being able to react as quick as they think they will be able to
- Reckless driving – any time a person is driving wildly out of control, excessively speeding, or ignore traffic signal and signage, they may be guilty of reckless driving which can lead to horrible accidents and injuries
There can also be car accidents that occur because of something outside of a motorists’ hands. These are often one of the following:
- Defective vehicle or vehicle parts
- Defective roadway design
- Inadequate signage or warnings
- Weather conditions
In this situation, you might not have another driver that was responsible for your accident and injuries, but you may still have legal grounds to file a lawsuit. You can file against the manufacturer of the defective automotive part, the municipality or government entity that was responsible for inadequate signage, and even the engineers in charge of the roadway design.
When Are You Most Likely to Have a Car Crash?
The majority of car accidents in Columbia occur either on the weekend or on a weekday during rush hour, which makes sense as these are the times when roads are most crowded.
But Columbia road-travel safety also is affected by holidays, weather, and the time of year. Here are some specifics about exactly when car accidents happen in Columbia, according to the state Department of Transportation:
- 37% of highway deaths occurring during the Christmas holiday are alcohol-related
- During the New Year’s holiday, 58% of highway deaths are alcohol-related
- Accidents fatalities also occur frequently on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and over the Thanksgiving holiday
Who is Most Likely to Have a Car Accident?
Adult men are the demographic most likely to be involved in South Carolina car accidents, according to this report.
- Male drivers age 20-24 only accounted for about four percent of all licensed drivers but were involved in more than 11 percent of accidents
- Nearly 1 in 8 of all licensed male drivers between the ages of 5 and 24, most notably teenagers, were involved in a traffic collision that year
- One in 10 licensed female drivers of the same age had car crashes
- Out of the entire state population of licensed drivers, one in 15 was involved in a car accident.
- More than 72 percent of car accident fatalities were men
Preventing a Car Accident
Research developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides additional insight into road conditions and dangers during weekends and holidays. With more drivers on the road during these times, it follows that we all should be extra cautious. Here are three steps you can take to prevent a car accident and stay safe on the roads, according to the NHTSA:
- Seatbelts save lives: Make every passenger buckle up before the trip; drivers should lead by example when it comes to wearing their seatbelt.
- Avoid driving while inebriated: Just about every hour in the U.S. a life is lost as a result of a drunk-driving accident.
- Make time to check tires: Proper inflation paired with unworn treads makes for a much safer ride.
More than 35,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year and more than 2.4 million people are injured, according to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2015. Many of these lives could be saved and many of these injuries could be prevented if more drivers and passengers made safety a priority.
Wearing your seat belt and encouraging your passengers to buckle up can save lives. The NHTSA reports that approximately 270 lives are saved for every one percent increase in seat belt use.
NHSTA estimates that more than 1,600 lives were saved in 2014 because of the use of motorcycle helmets and that an additional 600 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
In 2015, over 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. On average, someone died every 51 minutes because of a drunk driver. Fatal crashes occurred 3.5 times more often during nighttime hours. And drunk driver crashes occurred more often on the weekends. Avoiding driving during peak drunk driving hours can help reduce your risks of being involved in a drunk driving accident, and, of course, making it a rule to never drive under the influence of alcohol can save lives.
Almost 3,500 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2015 and 391,000 people were injured. Although anything that takes your mind, eyes, and hands away from driving can be classified as a distraction, in recent years, the rise of cell phone use and other electronic devices while driving continues to pose a threat to everyone’s safety on the roadways. Putting the phone down and saving the texts for later is the only way to guarantee that your full attention is focused on the road.
In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in auto accidents and 70,000 people were injured. Although there is no one cause for auto-pedestrian accidents, both drivers and pedestrians can be more aware of their surroundings and more cautious in watching for one another when sharing the roadways.
Teen drivers are involved in three times the number of auto accidents per mile driven as all other drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers, representing one-third of all teen deaths. Teen driver accidents are due most often to:
- Drunk driving
- Not wearing seat belts
- Distractions while driving, such as cell phones, loud music, young passengers, eating
- Driving at night
- Drug use
Preventing Auto Accidents
Being aware of the many causes of auto accidents is the first step to preventing them. Once you understand why accidents happen, you can begin to take precautions to prevent them. Although not all accidents are preventable, you can decrease your risk for being involved in an accident with these tips.
- As a driver, watch for pedestrians who are not in crosswalks, especially children or animals who may dart into the roadway.
- Be aware of an increasing population of older people. Their reflexes while driving may be slower, and their gait will be slower.
- Develop patience during traffic jams. You are not going to get to your destination any faster by losing your temper, and you will increase your chances of an accident. Leave earlier or take a less-traveled route.
- Weather-related accidents are often avoidable. By law, you are required to drive in accordance with road conditions. Slow down when roads are wet or icy, even if it means slowing to a snail’s pace. Slow down in high winds.
- Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. That amount of space is often described as two to three seconds of driving time, but add one additional second for every ten miles per hour over 40 miles per hour, and two if you are driving a longer, heavier vehicle.
- Side winds can make it harder to control your vehicle, passing large trucks, or pulling trailers can subject you to sudden changes in the effects of wind on your vehicle. High winds and wet or icy roads can cause you to lose complete control.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Automobile accidents can lead to a myriad of injuries that can leave you and your family reeling from horrible medical bills. Some injuries may be simple and easy to handle, but car accidents can result in catastrophic personal injuries including some of the following:
The modern telecommunications society presents us all with an impressive number of conveniences. No one would deny that the ability to reach a loved one at any time of day, no matter where you are, is a tremendous advantage.
Forms of Distracted Driving
Put simply, there is no excuse for a driver not to give the road his or her full attention. Driving is a difficult, dangerous responsibility, and it’s not one that lends itself to multitasking. Study after study has shown paying attention is an excellent way of preventing an auto accident, but too many drivers insist on driving distracted.
Our car accident attorneys have helped clients who have been hurt when other drivers were distracted by:
- Phone calls
- The radio
- Unusual sights along the side of the road
- Applying makeup
Of course, there is really an infinite number of distractions, and an exhaustive list is impossible. The important thing to remember is that distracted driving is a form of negligence, and it can result in innocent people suffering serious, perhaps even fatal, injuries.
When a buzzed or drunk driver gets behind the wheel, that person is making the selfish decision to drive intoxicated and endanger the safety and well-being of everyone on the road.
The Dangers of Drunk Drivers
Although organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have worked tirelessly in the last four decades to increase public awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence, nearly 10,000 people die each year in DUI car accidents. On average:
- Drunk driving causes injury in a crash every two minutes.
- Twenty-seven people die as a result of drunk driving each day.
- One in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident during their lifetime.
- Of the 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each day, only 4,000 drivers are arrested.
- A drunk driver will drive drunk 80 times before being arrested.
What To Do If A Drunk Driver Injures You?
The first step after any car accident is to get the medical help you need. Then you should talk to an experienced attorney about your case. Insurance companies may pressure you to settle your case before you have received all the medical care you need and for less than your claim is actually worth.
At McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, we can help you understand your rights and ensure that you are being offered fair and adequate compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been involved in a serious accident caused by a drunk driver, our experienced attorneys can fight on your behalf to build the most effective case possible for maximizing any compensation you receive.
Potential Compensation in a DUI Accident Case
As a drunk-driving accident victim, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of wages and earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of companionship and loved one’s financial contributions, in the case of a fatal accident
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
What to Do After a Car Accident
There are more than six million auto accidents in the United States each year. Yet, many of us do not know what to do if we have the eventually likely misfortune of becoming involved in a car accident. Here are some steps you can take:
Things To Do Immediately After a Car Accident
- Check if you or other passengers are injured
- If no one is seriously injured, move away from the roadway and activate your hazard lights or set flares to alert other drivers. Do not, however, leave the scene of the accident
- If anyone is seriously injured and you have access to a mobile phone, emergency roadside call box, or another kind of phone nearby, call 911 and request that a police officer come to the scene
- If you are not obviously injured, when the officer asks if you are hurt, politely tell him or her that you won’t be sure until a doctor examines you. “Soft tissue” injuries sometimes take two to three days to present symptoms. For some other types of injuries, symptoms may not become evident for weeks after the accident.
Do not admit responsibility for the cause of the auto accident to anyone on the scene. Limit the information you share with others (other than your attorney) to the following (and write this information down):
- Name and address of drivers and passengers
- Name of drivers’ insurance companies and policy numbers
- Name and address of vehicles’ registered owners
- Drivers’ license numbers
- Name, address, and telephone number of witnesses
- Location of the auto accident
- Description of injuries and damage to vehicles and property
- Name of police officers that responded to the scene
- Names of anyone who claimed responsibility for the accident
- If anyone appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the reason for your suspicions (red eyes, lack of balance, slurred speech, etc.)
- If you have a camera, photographs of the scene of the accident and of injuries are helpful
Things To Do Soon After Your Car Wreck
- See a doctor, regardless of whether you have any symptoms. A delayed diagnosis can be detrimental to your claim or case
- Write down your account of the auto accident and include as much detail as possible. Do this while your recollection is still fresh
- Obtain skilled legal representation by a personal injury attorney; in most car accident cases, this will be in your best interest
Evaluating Your Auto Accident Claim
After an accident, the first step to determine if you have a case is to speak with an experienced lawyer who can evaluate the details of your accident and injury. You should prepare questions to ask the attorney so that you feel like you have the information you need to make decisions about your case moving forward. Some of the questions you may want to ask include:
- Do you think I have an accident case?
- About how much do you think my case is worth?
- Why should I choose you as my car accident lawyer?
- How long do you estimate it will take to resolve my case?
- Do you think my case will go to trial?
- What can I do to help my case?
- Are your attorney’s fees contingent upon recovery of compensation? What does that mean?
- Who at your law firm will be handling my case?
- Will I be able to get in contact with the lawyer handling my case if I have a question or concern?
- Can you tell me about some of the verdicts and settlements you have achieved in auto accident cases in the past?
We encourage you to ask any and all questions you have on your mind.
Deciding Whether to Move Forward With an Accident Claim
After your consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, you should have a much better idea of what you want to do next. If you decide to proceed with a claim for your injuries, we will fight tirelessly to recover compensation on your behalf for things such as:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Ongoing medical care and rehabilitative care
- Lifestyle and home modifications
- Pain and suffering
When you or a loved one is hurt, or when a loved one is tragically killed in an auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence or by a defective vehicle, you deserve compensation to get on the path to restoring financial, physical, and emotional well-being.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
Negligence, or carelessness, that leads to an accident and injuries is the basis for an accident claim. Whether the carelessness originated with another driver, an auto manufacturer or another party, our attorneys can deal with these opponents to pursue compensation for your injuries.
You should not have to deal with the burdens of medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering without holding the responsible party accountable. If an insurance company is refusing to give you the compensation you need, we will be your advocates to fight for what is in your best interest and to help you and your family recovery from the aftermath of your accident.
If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident in or around Sumter, Lexington, Camden, Columbia, Orangeburg, Newberry, or anywhere in South Carolina, please contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., at 888-353-5513 for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys will fight tirelessly to recover maximum compensation on your behalf. Call us today to schedule a free case review.When you are injured in a car accident, you will undoubtedly have many questions about what happens next. Below we have answered some of the common questions we hear from clients.
At McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., our experienced car accident attorneys offer free consultations to help you understand your rights and the next steps in your legal case. Call us today at 888-353-5513 for your consultation.
Should I accept an offer from the insurance company?
No. Nine times out of ten, insurance companies will offer you much less than you deserve as an initial settlement. They want to make your claim go away as quickly as possible, and they know that car accident victims are desperate for any amount money right after an accident.
Before you accept a settlement from an insurance company, you should speak with our experienced lawyers to find out the true value of your injury claim.
Why do I need a car accident lawyer?
If you were seriously injured in a car accident, having an attorney on your side can make all the difference in the amount of compensation you receive. Insurance companies are used to giving accident victims the runaround, but as soon as you hire a lawyer, they will start paying proper attention to your claim.
An experienced accident lawyer has the skill necessary to prove your case and convince the insurance company that you deserve full compensation. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, our attorneys will investigate your car accident to gather the information, evidence, and witness testimonies we need to build a strong case on your behalf.
Can I afford a lawyer?
Yes. Many clients are concerned that they do not have the money to hire a lawyer. We take all accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we don’t get paid until you do.
What damages can I recover from car accident injuries?
If you suffered an injury in your car accident because of another party’s negligence, you can seek compensation for a wide range of damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If a drunk driver caused your car accident, you may also be able to seek punitive damages for gross negligence. And if you lost a loved one in the car accident, you may be able to seek damages and justice for their loss of life.
How do I know who was at fault in the car accident?
In some car accidents, proving fault is complex. Multiple drivers, defective vehicles, or even a poorly maintained roadway can all create difficulty in determining who was at fault.
If the question of fault is unresolved in your accident, our accident lawyers will thoroughly review the evidence in your case. Police reports, photos, witness statements, and other factors will all be taken into account.
If necessary, we will also work with accident reconstruction specialists to help strengthen your case and fight for the compensation you deserve.
To get all of your questions answered about car accidents, please call McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., today at 888-353-5513 to schedule a free initial consultation. We represent injured victims throughout South Carolina, with offices in Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Sumter, Orangeburg, Aiken, and Newberry.