According to reporting from WLTX 19, a woman was recently struck by a vehicle while she was crossing Highway 321. At the scene, the responding officers told reporters that the woman was transported to a local hospital with unknown injuries. Our thoughts are with her at this time and we hope her injuries are not too severe. Unfortunately, cases like this happen far too often in Charleston. Many South Carolina pedestrians sustain serious injuries, or worse, are killed, in car accidents every year. In the event that you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian, it is imperative that you seek immediate assistance from an experienced Charleston pedestrian accident attorney.
Pedestrian Safety in South Carolina: Understanding the Data
Pedestrian safety remains a major problem throughout the country. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 4,700 pedestrian fatalities in 2013, that being the most recent year for which there is comprehensive data available. Tens of thousands more pedestrians also suffered life-altering injuries every year. Pedestrians actually account for nearly 15 percent of all traffic deaths. Unfortunately, the data is even worse for South Carolina. On average, approximately 100 pedestrian fatalities occur in South Carolina annually. On a population-adjusted basis, this number is significantly higher than the national average. In 2013, South Carolina had 2.09 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents. This figure was the 5th worst in the entire county. The only states where pedestrians were involved in more deadly accidents were: Florida, New Mexico, Montana and Arizona.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
If you regularly walk in Charleston, or in any of the surrounding areas, you need to watch out for your own safety. Please consider the following list of seven basic pedestrian safety tips:
- Always use a sidewalk or a walking path whenever one is available;
- If no sidewalk is available, it is best to walk facing the oncoming traffic;
- Never assume a driver can see you, it is always best to go out of your way to make yourself visible;
- When walking at night, you must wear reflective clothing;
- Use a crosswalk whenever one is available, even if it means going a little bit out of your way;
- When crossing without a crosswalk, try to be as predictable as possible; and
- Finally, it is important to stay alert – please avoid using your headphones or focusing on your cell phone when walking in high risk areas.
Unfortunately, even when a pedestrian does everything correctly, they can still end up suffering a serious injury. Ultimately, as a pedestrian, your safety will always be placed in the hands of the drivers that pass you. These drivers have a legal duty to look out for your safety. In the event that they fail to live up to that duty, you need to take legal action.
Liability for a Pedestrian Accident in South Carolina
In order to hold another party liable for your pedestrian accident, you will need to prove that they were negligent. In simple terms, negligence can be thought of as the failure to take proper care when performing an action. This raises an important question: what is exactly is ‘proper care’? The answer depends entirely on the specific circumstances in question. Determining liability for a pedestrian accident will always require a comprehensive review of the specific facts of your case. Though, as a general rule, negligence has four basic legal elements.
South Carolina is a Comparative Negligence State
South Carolina is a comparative fault state. Essentially, this means that a victim can be found to be partially responsible for their own accident, and they can still recover some compensation from the other at-fault party. However, partial fault also means that their compensation will be reduced. This issue comes into play in many pedestrian accident cases. It is not uncommon for a pedestrian to play a small role in contributing to their own accident. To understand how this system operates, please consider a hypothetical example with the following key facts:
- A pedestrian was walking down a street in Charleston;
- At the same time, a vehicle was travelling the opposite direction;
- The pedestrian suddenly decided to run across the street, doing so in a spot with no crosswalk;
- The driver was slow to recognize the pedestrian because they were distracted with their radio; and
- There was an accident, and the pedestrian sustained $100,000 in damages.
This example would no doubt result in a complicated case. It may be determined that the pedestrian played a small role in causing their own injuries because of the way that they crossed the street. After a detailed review of the case, a court may determine that the pedestrian was 10 percent at-fault for their own accident. Therefore, that would mean that the driver was to blame for the other 90 percent of the accident. As a result, under South Carolina’s comparative fault system, the pedestrian’s compensation would be reduced by 10 percent. The pedestrian would only entitled to $90,000 of compensation instead of the full $100,000. The apportionment of liability is extremely important in comparative fault states. If the pedestrian in this example had failed to a hire a skilled lawyer, and thus they were unfairly found to be at-fault for 40 percent of the accident, they would only be able to recover $60,000. Compensation is always reduced by a victim’s percentage of fault. Getting blamed for an unfair percentage of your accident can take thousands of dollars directly out of your pocket. If you have been injured as a pedestrian, you need an attorney who will protect you from unfair blame.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
Pedestrians face serious risks from automobiles. If you have been injured as a pedestrian, you deserve compensation for the full extent of your damages. The aggressive Charleston car accident lawyers at David Aylor Law Offices can help you recover what you deserve. Please contact our office today to set up a no-fee, no-obligation review of your case. Our team represents victims throughout Eastern South Carolina, we have offices in Charleston, North Charleston, Walterboro and Myrtle Beach.