Whether it is walking along Cheves Street to go to the Florence County Museum or crossing Cherokee Road to get to Timrod Park residents and visitors alike have lots of reasons to travel by foot to destinations in Florence. An unfortunate truth for pedestrians is that while they enjoy the healthy benefits of walking without spending money on gas or an Uber, they are at risk of severe injuries if they are hit by a vehicle while walking.
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), one pedestrian was killed every two and a half days in the state in one recent year. The 150 pedestrians killed that year reflected a 14.5 percent increase from the prior year’s total and 20 percent higher than the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2012.
Pedestrians do not enjoy any of the types of protection that occupants of motor vehicles have. Even when pedestrians survive these types of accidents, they often suffer catastrophic injuries that can result in several months, years or even an entire lifetime of disability and rehabilitation. Victims of serious accidents may find themselves unable to work and provide for themselves and their families.
If you or your loved one was a pedestrian hit by a car in South Carolina, it is in your best interest to immediately contact Jebaily Law Firm. Call us or fill out our online contact form right now to schedule an initial consultation that will let our personal injury lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case.
Pedestrian’s Duty of Care in South Carolina
In many pedestrian accident cases, negligent drivers or their insurance companies will often claim that a victim contributed to or directly caused their own injuries. Article 25 of Chapter 5 of the South Carolina Code establishes numerous duties for pedestrians.
South Carolina Code § 56-5-3110 states that a pedestrian must obey any traffic-control device unless otherwise directed by a police officer. Under South Carolina Code § 56-5-3130, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians when traffic-control devices are not in place or operation, but pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety to walk or run into the path of a vehicle.
South Carolina Code § 56-5-3150(a) states that pedestrians who are crossing a roadway anywhere other than in marked crosswalks or at intersections have to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle.
Under South Carolina Code § 56-5-3150(c), pedestrians should not cross the road in any place other than a marked crosswalk that has traffic control signals. South Carolina Code § 56-5-3150(d) specifically prohibits pedestrians from crossing diagonally at an intersection.
Under South Carolina Code § 56-5-3160, pedestrians need to use sidewalks (where provided). Similarly, South Carolina Code § 56-5-3170 prohibits pedestrians from walking on the freeway or the shoulder of the freeway.
Many pedestrian accidents are the result of a driver’s violation of their duty to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Some of the most common types of negligent actions that lead to pedestrian collisions include:
Even if a driver is not cited for a traffic violation, they can still be held liable for a victim’s injuries.
Pedestrian accident victims often suffer extremely debilitating injuries. In many cases, people require lengthy terms of hospitalization, and some victims require full-time assistance after being released.
Some of the most common kinds of injuries pedestrian accident victims in South Carolina suffer include:
Not only do victims who sustain these types of injuries incur significant medical expenses, but they are also unable to return to work for extended periods of time — possibly even for the rest of their lives. Jebaily Law Firm will fight to help you recover these types of economic damages as well as non-economic damages for your pain and suffering.
In many pedestrian accident cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will contact victims and attempt to pressure them into accepting settlements. People should refuse to make any recorded statements to insurers and decline these settlement offers, which are usually much lower than what the victim is actually entitled to.
An insurance company’s settlement offer will be based on numerous factors, including a victim’s age, the severity of their injury, and their prognosis for recovery. Insurers are always looking for reasons to justify not paying these claims or they may try to aggressively settle your claim for less than what it is worth.
A lawyer will work to negotiate a fair and full settlement that accounts for all of your past, present, and future needs, or file a lawsuit if the insurance company is unwilling to provide adequate compensation. If your case is taken to trial, a jury could award you economic damages for all tangible expenses, non-economic damages for more subjective types of harm, and, in a very limited number of cases (particularly those involving drunk or drugged driving), punitive damages, if “the harm was done as a result of the defendant’s willful, reckless, or wanton conduct.”
South Carolina is a modified comparative fault state, which means that a victim can recover damages so long as their percentage of negligence does not exceed the defendant’s. The victim’s share of negligence could reduce their final award. A person awarded $100,000 but found to be 40 percent at fault would have their award reduced by $40,000 and ultimately receive $60,000.
Keep in mind that in some cases, the driver may not be the liable party. If a crash was the result of some kind of mechanical defect, a maintenance company or parts manufacturer could be liable for the victim’s losses.
If you or your loved one is a pedestrian hit by a car in South Carolina, your first step should always be to seek medical attention. Not only does prompt medical treatment ensure your well-being, but it also prevents insurers from questioning the validity of your claimed injuries.
When you are able, you should take pictures of the scene of the accident and get the contact information for all witnesses. If you can’t do this because of the need for medical care, you should get friends or family members to do this for you. Most importantly, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Jebaily Law Firm. Our knowledgeable attorneys will review your case and answer all of your legal questions. Don’t wait until it is too late to file your claim. Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with us as soon as possible.