As personal injury lawyers in Rock Hill, SC, we know that, surprisingly, more than 10% of the people killed in car accidents in South Carolina each year are pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research concluded that 113 of 828 people (13%) who died in car accidents in our state were on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down near or on a roadway. When such an accident occurs, the injured pedestrian, or the family of a deceased pedestrian, may be entitled to compensation for their losses. In this article, we will discuss steps to take if hit by a vehicle, the types of injuries associated with pedestrian-vehicle accidents, and the duty of care in South Carolina.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF HIT BY A CAR IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Get to safety and seek medical attention. First and foremost, you need to protect your health and safety. If you have been struck by a vehicle, you need to get out of the road and away from traffic. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require immediate emergency medical assistance. Do not let the cost of treatment prevent you from seeking medical assistance. Your health is priceless, and if another person caused your injuries, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover medical expenses. However, the top priority after an accident, whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, is to seek medical assistance. A doctor’s report may be valuable evidence if you make a claim against the at-fault party.
Call the police. Contact the police as soon as the accident occurs as they can contact the necessary emergency services. Make sure an officer creates a report. Your accident attorney may be able to use it to prove negligence and liability. You should make a statement to the officer to ensure that your side of the story is included in the report.
Exchange information with the driver. You can never obtain enough information about the incident.
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Vehicle make and model
- Witness statements including their contact information
- Photographs may prove to be very important for any future personal injury claim
WHAT TYPES OF PEDESTRIAN-VEHICLE ACCIDENT INJURIES OCCUR IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
As you may imagine, a two-ton vehicle can cause significant damage to the human body.
Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) are caused when an outside force causes brain dysfunction, usually a violent blow to the head or body that in many cases is the result of a car accident. While some traumatic brain injuries can be minor, others can have severe medical consequences.
Spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury can also stem from a sudden, traumatic blow but in this case to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. Because the spinal cord is the mechanism for transmitting signals between the brain and the body, even minute damage can have life-changing results.
Fractures. A bone fracture occurs when the physical force exerted on a bone is stronger than the bone itself. While treatable, the injury can cause lifelong pain and medical problems that can impact the victim well being and quality of life.
Soft Tissue Injuries. There are a variety of injuries that can be considered soft tissue injuries, including bruises, lacerations, tears, dislocations, and sprains. While many soft tissue injuries are self-resolving with little medical intervention, they can cause significant pain and may keep victims from engaging in everyday activities and working for weeks or even months. In addition, they can leave victims with unsightly scarring or other permanent issues that can have an impact on their emotional well-being.
Amputations. In some instances, the forces involved in pedestrian accidents can have significant lifelong repercussions on the victim’s body such as the accidental amputation of limbs and extremities.
Broken Bones. Broken bones are among the most common injuries sustained by pedestrians who are struck by cars, trucks, or other motorized vehicles. These injuries occur when an external force causes a break in the continuity of a bone. Broken bones can be extremely painful and can require intensive medical treatment to correct.
Emotional Trauma. Not all injuries are physical. In fact, even if an individual does not suffer permanent physical injuries, he or she may suffer lasting emotional trauma. Because being struck by a vehicle is a traumatic experience, pedestrians may be unable to cope with the emotional trauma it causes.
Death. Pedestrians being struck by a vehicle are at high risk of death. This is caused not only by the sheer size of vehicles but also because of the lack of protection for the pedestrian. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were 4,735 pedestrian deaths in 2013. Pedestrians are one of the few groups witnessing an increase in traffic-related deaths.
A pedestrian hit by a car traveling 15 miles per hour or less is not likely to sustain fatal injuries. Any faster, however, and the risk of severe injuries or death increases. The highest pedestrian accident rate is for 5- to 9-year-old boys, an age group most likely to dart into traffic. Though the elderly tend to be more cautious as pedestrians, they suffer almost twice the risk of death compared to children under the age of 14.
WHAT IS DUTY OF CARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
The duty of care is a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use. If a person’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence. Usually, pedestrian-vehicle accident cases hinge on the duty of care owed by those involved. Both drivers and pedestrians must follow the rules of the road and exercise reasonable care. In many cases, it may seem obvious who was negligent, but the courts look at numerous factors in applying the facts to the negligence elements. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay damages for personal and property damage caused by that negligence.
Driver’s Duty of Care
Generally, drivers must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and failure to do so is considered negligence. A few of the most common factors contributing to driver negligence are:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Pedestrian’s Duty of Care
A pedestrian must exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety. The care required must be proportionate to the danger to be avoided and reasonably anticipated consequences. Contributory negligence may be assessed against a pedestrian if they failed to exercise such care and contributed to the cause of their own injuries.
A few of the most common factors contributing to pedestrian negligence are:
- Ignoring the “walk” signal at an intersection
- Entering traffic and disrupt the flow
- Failing to use marked crosswalks
- Darting in front of a vehicle
If you or someone you know has been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is imperative to contact experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. In many cases, you can recover significant compensation for your injuries and other losses associated with the accident. Contact the Lewis Law Firm, we are skilled personal injury attorneys who are committed to helping victims recover.