Pedestrian accidents remain far too common of an occurrence in South Carolina and throughout the country. In fact, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pedestrians account for more than 15 percent of all traffic fatalities. Overall, that figure translates to nearly 4,900 deaths per year. Many tens of thousands more also suffer very serious injuries. To make matters worse, many of these accidents are entirely preventable. More care must be taken to protect the safety of pedestrians on our roadways. This problem is especially troubling in South Carolina. In 2014, NHTSA data found that the state reported 2.21 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents. That represents the fifth highest pedestrian fatality rate in the entire country. Only New Mexico, Nevada, Florida and Louisiana had higher pedestrian fatality rates. It is clear that South Carolina needs to improve. In the unfortunate event that you have suffered a serious injury in a pedestrian accident, you deserve full and fair compensation.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrians are always at a heightened safety risk. Even when an accident occurs at a low speed, pedestrians can still suffer devastating, possibly life-altering, injuries. Some specific injuries that are common in South Carolina pedestrian accidents include:
- Severe lacerations;
- Broken bones;
- Internal bleeding;
- Organ damage;
- Head trauma, including concussions;
- Spinal cord damage; and
Compensation for Pedestrian Accidents
In South Carolina, the overriding purpose of legal compensation is to make an accident victim ‘whole’. This means that the injured victim is entitled to be put into a similar position as to where they would have been had no accident ever occurred. In other words, injured victims may seek recovery for the full extent of their damages. In a pedestrian accident, these damages can come in numerous different forms. Specifically, pedestrian accident victims may seek compensation for:
- Ambulance and emergency room costs;
- All other hospital bills;
- The costs of any necessary medication or medical devices;
- Expenses associated with rehabilitation;
- Current and future lost wages;
- Diminished future earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering; and
Ultimately, determining the value of your pedestrian accident claim will always require a comprehensive review of specific circumstances of your case. Remember, seeking full and fair compensation is always challenging. Unfortunately, the big insurance companies will not make things easy on you. Your damages need to be thoroughly documented and the evidence must be assembled in a compelling manner. It is imperative that all pedestrian accident victims consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after their accident.
Special Considerations for Hit and Run Accidents and DUI Accidents
In a limited number of cases, South Carolina car accident victims may also seek recovery for punitive damages. These damages are not based off of the victims’ losses, but instead are designed to punish the bad actions of the defendant. While they are awarded in very rare circumstances, they may be available in your case. Two circumstances when punitive damages may be available are DUI accidents and hit and run accidents. It just so happens that both of these issues affect a disproportionate amount of pedestrian accident victims. In fact, according to the NHTSA, 48 percent of deadly pedestrian accidents involve a drunk driver. Further, 18 percent of all deadly pedestrian accidents involve a hit and run driver.
Determining Fault for a Pedestrian Accident in South Carolina
Another party can only be held liable for a pedestrian accident if it can be established that their negligence contributed to the wreck. Negligence occurs when a party fails to exercise reasonable care when performing an action. What exactly constitutes reasonable care will always depend on individual circumstances of the case in question. Though, in order to prove negligence, victims must prove each of the following four legal elements:
- Duty: A legal obligation to look out for the safety of another party must be established.
- Breach: A victim must prove that a defendant deviated from their legally required duty of care.
- Causation: There must be a causal connection between the defendant’s breach and the victim’s injuries.
- Damages: The victim must have sustained actual harm.
South Carolina Pedestrian Accidents: Comparative Fault
When it comes to assessing negligence, pedestrian accidents can often be especially complex. This is because pedestrians can be deemed partially responsible for causing their own accident. For example, a pedestrian might be partially at-fault because they crossed the road in a manner that amplified the risks. Though, in South Carolina, partial responsibility for an accident does not necessarily prevent a victim from recovering damages. This is because South Carolina uses a comparative negligence standard. Under this system, each party’s precise percentage of responsibility will be ascertained in order to determine their liability for the accident. To better understand how this works, consider the following example:
- Imagine that you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident in Rock Hill. In all, you sustained $50,000 in damages. However, after a review of the case, a jury determined that you were 20 percent at fault for your own accident. The jury found that the driver of the car was responsible for the other 80 percent of the wreck. Under South Carolina law, your compensation would be required to be reduced by your percentage of fault. Therefore, you would only be able to seek $40,000 in damages instead of the full $50,000 damages.
Clearly, the apportionment of fault is critically important. If even a few extra percentage points of blame are shifted in your direction, you could potentially lose out on thousands of dollars.
Contact Our Office Today
It is no secret that pedestrians face a major safety threat from automobiles. At the Elrod Pope Law Firm, our skilled South Carolina car accident lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of injured pedestrians. Let our team help you recover the full and fair compensation that you deserve. If you have been injured in an accident, please reach out to our team today to set up a free review of your case. We have offices in Rock Hill and Lake Wylie and we represent injured persons throughout the area.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.