When it comes to road accidents, there are many different variables to factor in. But these differences manifest in particularly significant ways when we consider the differences between a car accident and an accident with a commercial truck.
If you have been the unfortunate victim of an accident with a large commercial vehicle and you are considering filing a claim for compensation, it is essential that you understand the important legal differences that may affect your case. Having an experienced lawyer that can help you navigate the legal complexities involved when dealing with truck accident claims may mean the difference between getting what you truly deserve and settling for a “lowball” amount.
Truck Accidents Are Usually More Severe
It may sound obvious, but one of the biggest differences is the severity between a private car accident and a commercial truck accident. Truck accidents have the potential to be far more brutal in just about every way. Because of the size and weight of a semi-truck, the momentum of a moving commercial truck is significantly greater than that of a small car moving at the same speed. Because of this, the impact of an accident is invariably greater. The result of this is not only a far greater amount of damage to the vehicles that are involved but also a vastly increased potential for serious injuries that can be long-lasting, if not permanent.
The Difficulties of Battling a Trucking Company
In terms of the legal process, this may constitute the greatest difference between car accidents and collisions with commercial trucks. If you file a case in the aftermath of an accident with a semi-truck, the lawsuit usually involves a trucking company, not just an individual driver. Because South Carolina law allows a claimant to sue more than one defendant in a single claim, you may have a case against both the driver and the trucking company.
In many ways, this makes the case more challenging. When making a claim against a trucking company, you will be dealing with both their lawyers and their aggressive insurance company. These representatives are incredibly highly trained, and their one goal is to ensure that they do not have to pay out large settlements for these accidents. This is perhaps the main reason that it is so important to work with a personal injury lawyer who understands the tricks these trucking companies, their lawyers, and their insurance representatives have up their sleeves.
Understanding the Accident’s Causes
Another major difference between car accidents and truck accidents is how to determine the causes of the accident. Accidents that involve large commercial vehicles are usually the result of different circumstances. While car accidents tend to happen because of human error (driver distraction, speeding, etc.), truck accidents are often the consequence of the trucks’ sheer size and mass. These factors make it far more difficult to make proper turns or to stop quickly.
Truck accidents also frequently come about because of equipment failure. Both the driver and the trucking company should be responsible for check-ups and maintenance of the commercial vehicle. Neglect of the truck’s upkeep can lead to the malfunction of the vehicle. Alternatively, if this happens due to a manufacturer defect, the lawsuit will involve the manufacturer of the truck or its parts instead of (or in addition to) the trucking company.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge and the skill necessary to investigate the precise cause of the truck accident. This typically involves analyzing trucking logs, the company’s safety records, and the driver’s records, along with their related licensing and training. When it comes to truck accidents, this analysis is generally far more complicated than it is with car accidents.
General Complexities of Truck Accident Cases
While car accidents come with their own challenges, commercial truck accidents tend to involve more significant damages and multiple parties. Determining the financial damages (such as the cost of medical care, loss of earnings, etc.), non-financial damages (physical and emotional pain and suffering), and punitive damages (for a trucking company that has acted in bad faith) presents multiple complex challenges in truck accidents. Therefore, the help of a seasoned personal injury lawyer is essential.
Contact a Columbia Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you have suffered injuries or losses in a truck accident in or around Columbia, contact Goings Law Firm, LLC as soon as possible for a free consultation about your case. Our experienced and knowledgeable personal injury team will make you a priority and will be with you every step of the way to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (803) 350-9230.
Formal education isn’t a requirement to become a commercial truck driver, although entry-level drivers are required to take training with a registered training provider. Prospective trucking employees must complete tests successfully and obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Since large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, are difficult to operate, truckers need a comprehensive knowledge of how to maneuver them safely on the road and respond to emergencies appropriately.
An inexperienced or unqualified truck driver could lose control of their vehicle and crash into a car, pedestrian, or stationary object. Without the proper skills, a trucker might take a turn too fast, load cargo incorrectly, or brake improperly, resulting in an accident.
Federal Regulations for Entry-Level Truck Drivers
Anyone who wants to operate a commercial motor vehicle in intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce must apply for a CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also requires prospective employees to meet the conditions below:
- Certify the vehicle they use during the test represents the motor vehicle they will operate or intend to operate
- Surrender all commercial learner’s permits and non-CDL licenses held in the state of employment
- If applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, meet the Transportation of Security Administration requirements
- Provide documentation to prove citizenship or lawful permanent residency
- List any state in the last ten years of holding a license to operate a motor vehicle
- Pass a skills or driving test in a vehicle that represents the motor vehicle they will operate or expect to operate and provide proof of test completion
- Show documents for proof of domicile in the state where the application is being completed
- Certify there isn’t licensing for more than one jurisdiction or state, and disqualification under the disqualification of drivers regulation or state law doesn’t apply
- Submit information the state requires to apply for a CDL
When an entry-level trucker applies for a license to operate a commercial motor vehicle, they must receive instruction regarding:
- Hours of Service – Training should include information on maintaining an adequate record of duty status, handling fatigue while driving, driving within the maximum driving limits, and spending a specific number of hours off duty.
- Driver qualifications – All truck drivers must understand requirements, such as medical exam procedures, disqualifications based on loss of driving privileges, offenses, and orders, responsibilities, and general qualifications for operating a commercial motor vehicle.
- Whistleblower protection – All trucking employees have the right to inquire about safety practices without termination by their employer or reprisals for discussing safety concerns.
- Driver wellness – Information about driver wellness should include the importance of basic health maintenance, such as exercise and diet, and avoiding excessive alcohol use.
Once a truck driver completes their training, they receive a training certificate. Employers must keep a copy of the certificate while employing the truck driver and up to one year after termination.
Longer Combination Vehicle Driver Regulations
A longer combination vehicle (LCV) is a combination of multiple trailers attached to one tractor with a gross vehicle weight of over 80,000 pounds. Drivers operate these vehicles on the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Anyone who wants to apply for an LCV license must meet training requirements, including:
- Successfully pass a skills and knowledge test
- Answer at least 80 percent of questions on the knowledge test correctly
- Demonstrate the ability to perform the required skills of operating an LCV
- Obey traffic laws and avoid involvement in a preventable accident during the skills test
- Present the LCV instructor with evidence of meeting the general requirements for obtaining an LCV license
Who Is Liable for an Accident Involving a Commercial Truck?
Most people assume the commercial truck driver is at fault for a crash, thinking that they were driving, so they should be held liable. However, multiple parties could be responsible for causing an accident. Although the trucker was operating the commercial truck at the time of the collision, their employer could be liable for knowingly hiring an unlicensed or inexperienced employee.
Motor carriers must perform various background checks before hiring prospective drivers. Unfortunately, some might skip this crucial step if they experience staffing shortages or a limited pool of qualified truckers. They might hire anyone they can find to complete necessary deliveries and make money.
You can pursue compensation from the individual or company at fault for your injury. Common parties held liable for truck accidents include:
- Trucking company
- Truck driver
- Cargo loading company
- Maintenance worker
- Manufacturer of a defective truck or part
- Owner of the cab or trailer
Goings Law Firm, LLC has represented clients injured in truck accidents for over a decade. We will fight hard to protect your rights and seek the maximum compensation you deserve. Our legal team will be your advocate and remain by your side until the end.
If you were injured in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, call Goings Law Firm, LLC at (803) 350-9230 number today for your free consultation with one of our Columbia truck accident lawyers.
An accident with an 18-wheeler will leave you reeling, and wondering “how did this happen?” And soon enough, that question will be relevant for your attorney, for your insurance company, and for your finances. To get the answer, you might need to request information held in the black box of a truck.
Black boxes aren’t just for planes. They are also installed in many 18-wheelers to record driving data. If you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other commercial truck, your attorney can request data from the black box to understand who was at fault for the accident. That information can bolster your case for compensation.
What Are Black Boxes?
“Black Boxes” are more accurately called “EDRs” or Electronic Data Recorders. EDRs are designed to collect data in the brief period before, during, and after a crash. EDRs collect several different types of information, including:
- Pre-Crash Vehicle Speed and Velocity — This information indicates whether a driver was exceeding the speed limit before the crash or making urgent maneuvers.
- Driver Inputs — The EDR helps us understand what actions a driver was taking in the moments before and during an accident. This includes the use of or failure to use seatbelts, the presence or absence of steering wheel turns and acceleration or deceleration, and whether the brakes were used.
- Vehicle Crash Data — The EDR collects detailed mathematical data on the velocity and dynamics of the vehicle during and after the crash. This includes tire pressure, oil levels, and more.
EDRs collect all of this information via sensors dispersed throughout the truck. The “brain” of the EDR, however, is typically housed in an area insulated from damage, like the driver’s seat. Though not required by law yet, black boxes are installed in most 18-wheelers nowadays.
How a Black Box Can Help You in Case of an Accident
If you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you deserve compensation. But, to get it, you will likely be going up against a large trucking company. Naturally, trucking companies are not apt to want to disclose information about reckless drivers they employ. A black box could reveal that the truck driver was speeding, making sudden turns, or failing to brake. Therefore, they will not willingly hand over information contained in the black box. If they did, they might be on the hook for huge compensation settlements.
However, all is not lost. A skilled attorney can gain access to the data and establish a case for compensation.
An attorney will be able to assemble data from eyewitness reports, the ELD of the driver, the physical evidence remaining from the crash, and the raw data from the black box. They will then help build a case to bring before the trucking company’s insurance carrier and fight for you to get compensation for your pain and suffering. The right personal injury attorney will be accustomed to dealing with all the intimidation tactics of insurance companies. They will be able to help you get the answers you deserve and understand who is liable for the accident.
Call Goings Law Firm, LLC Today
Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be nearly as nerve-wracking as the accident itself. You are likely dealing with a pile of medical bills, hordes of insurance queries, lack of communication from the trucking company, and maybe even questions from government agencies. While the black box holds the key to how the accident happened and to getting compensated for your pain, you struggle to access it. You need help. Contact a Goings Law Firm, LLC attorney today.
Any sort of vehicular accident is devastating. However, truck accidents, as opposed to car accidents, often result in larger financial, physical, and legal consequences for victims. Truck accidents can wreak havoc on your life and cause issues that last for years to come.
If you’ve been in a truck accident, call the skilled lawyers at Goings Law Firm, LLC today. We are adept at assisting with all types of personal injury cases. We will deal with the trucking company, insurance companies, and even the government on your behalf. You need a professional in your corner who can gather evidence, organize a case for compensation, and fight for you to get the money you deserve.
Don’t let a truck accident hold you back any longer. Call Goings Law Firm, LLC at (803) 350-9230 now.
Any type of auto accident is devastating. However, accidents with large commercial trucks can be permanently life-altering and challenging to recover from. Eighteen-wheelers are heavy and usually weigh about 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. That’s 20 times heavier than a standard car. When accidents happen with an 18-wheeler, the consequences can be lethal.
To avoid accidents and to ensure road safety, truck drivers not only have to pass rigorous driving tests to receive their license, but they also have to maintain detailed accounts of their driving and resting time. Every driver of a commercial vehicle has a travel log. If an accident happens with an 18-wheeler, one of the first things that will be examined is the driver’s log.
The Law for Truck Drivers
Have you ever heard that pilots have to take rest days after flying for a few days? The same principle applies to truck drivers. The rules and regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are designed to ensure drivers are well-rested and alert while on the road. These rules include
- 11-Hour Driving Limit — Drivers are allowed to operate for a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit — After ten consecutive hours off duty, drivers are not allowed to drive past the 14th consecutive hour.
- 30-Minute Breaks — After eight consecutive hours of driving, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break.
- 60/70-Hour Limit — When on duty for seven/eight days, drivers may not operate more than 60/70 of those hours.
As you can see, these rules encourage rest, alertness, and safe driving habits on the part of truck drivers. If found to be in violation of these rules, drivers will be fined. If you are in an accident with a truck driver who is in violation of the hours of service rules, they may be liable for the accident.
Why Is Drive Time Regulated?
When you learn to drive, you hear it all the time: “don’t drive when you’re tired.” Obviously, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you are likely to veer out of your lane and cause an accident. But, even if you drive tired but don’t fall asleep, you still pose a significant risk to other vehicles. When drivers are drowsy, their reaction times are slow, their judgment is impeded, and they are unable to make snap decisions that can often save lives.
The FMCSA strictly regulates the operational hours of truck drivers to ensure that they are well-rested and able to make rapid decisions when on the road. Rested drivers are less likely to cause accidents.
How Do Truck Drivers Log Their Time?
In the past, drivers would log their hours of service (HOS) on paper. These paper logs would include the location, date, and time of all points on a route. They were filled out by the driver and mailed in for verification. These days, all truck drivers have ELDs, or Electronic Logging Devices. These devices enable trucking companies, the Department of Transportation, and drivers themselves to keep a close eye on driving metrics.
ELDs connect to the engine of the truck, and track speed, stops, starts, and location. Most drivers have an app on their phone that enables them to monitor their drive time and log appropriate breaks and rest hours. ELDs can even detect that an accident has happened and alert the trucking company.
If an accident happens with a truck, the ELD is key to understanding how it all happened. ELDs will tell how fast the truck was going at impact, how long the driver had been operating before the incident, and importantly, whether the driver was in violation of the FMCSA’s rules and regulations.
What to Do if You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
For truck drivers, the slightest mistake or moment of distraction can mean disaster — for themselves and for those they share the road with. The travel logs of truck drivers are an absolutely critical resource if you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler. An attorney will be able to assist you in contacting a trucking company for a driver’s HOS log, establishing liability for the accident, and getting you the compensation you need.
If you or someone you love has recently been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, call Goings Law Firm, LLC at (803) 350-9230 today. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping people in the Columbia area receive compensation. Don’t let an accident set you back any longer — call us today.
This year, Robert F. Goings of the Goings Law Firm, LLC was named to the 2021 South Carolina Top 25 of all attorney in South Carolina by Super Lawyers. This list includes the best attorneys in South Carolina. Robert F. Goings is the only attorney that practices in the area of personal injury law from Columbia or the Midlands area of South Carolina named to this highly selective and exclusive list of attorneys.
In order to be selected this list of top 25 attorneys, other attorneys that have been invited to Super Lawyer in South Carolina rank the best attorneys statewide for all practice areas. Robert was selected to the Super Lawyer Top 25 best attorney list based on nominations from other lawyers, peer review and result research, and Blue Ribbon review process. This includes peer recognition and professional achievements based on his verdicts and settlements, experience, and honors and awards within the legal profession. For Robert to be the only personal injury attorney from Columbia or the Midlands area of South Carolina is a true testament to the level of quality and skill that you receive when you hire the Goings Law Firm, LLC. It is important to hire the best and most experienced personal injury attorney if you have been involved in a serious personal injury or if a family member or loved one has died due to the negligence of others. It is important to hire a top rated personal injury attorney that is respected both in and outside the courtroom. He has been selected to Super Lawyers continuously from 2017 – 2021, and before that he was named a Rising Stars from 2013 – 2016. Click here to view Robert’s profile on Super Lawyers.
When considering an attorney for your legal needs, we believe it is important to review the Top 25 list complied by Super Lawyers. Click here to view the complete list of Top 25 Super Lawyers in South Carolina for 2021: https://www.superlawyers.com/south-carolina/toplists/top-25-2021-south-carolina-super-lawyers/eb1daa7f2b5068f7127382b1eae924b7
In South Carolina, the law is designed to protect a person who is injured in a car or truck accident due to the negligence or fault of another. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine the type of losses that you may be able to compensated for following a collision. The purpose is to compensate a victim of property damage, injuries or losses and to put the non-fault party, as near as possible, in the same position that he or she was in before the accident occurred. The ability to recover “actual damages” is what the law permits. In other words, actual damages would be the actual losses and expenses which the plaintiff has suffered because of the at-fault driver’s negligence.
This guide explains the law in South Carolina related to the compensation you are entitled to receive following a collision. The amount of the compensation is tied to the nature, extent and severity of the injuries and damages incurred, and often times an award can be increased if the driver was drunk, impaired, or other circumstances existed other than simple negligence.
Here is a description of the general types of damages that are recoverable in South Carolina if you are a victim of a motor vehicle collision:
Damages Recoverable for Personal Injuries – Medical Bills, Lost Earnings, Pain and Suffering, Loss of Enjoyment of Life, and Mental Suffering
A person injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the negligence of another person can recover actual damages and expenses incurred as a result of the bodily harm. The recovery is based on two types of compensation: (1) economic damages and (2) non-economic damages. Economic damages are things like medical bills, lost wages, loss employment opportunities and non-economic damages would be related to pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
In determining the amount of compensation for the injuries or loss suffered as a result of a negligent driver, a determination of the amount of damages should include past, present, and future damages. Actual damages for a person who has been physically injured include: medical and healthcare charges related to the injury or expenses incurred for reasonable and necessary medical treatment; pharmacy charges and related expenses; pain and suffering; mental anguish; lost wages due to absence from work, which is the loss of time and income which resulted from the impairment of the ability to work and earn a livelihood, impairment of health or physical condition, the permanency of any injury, any permanent physical scarring; and any other losses which are reflected by the character of the injury.
The recovery of damages for a person who has been physically injured include pain and suffering — both past and future — as well as mental anguish, impairment of health or physical condition, and disfigurement. Pain and suffering compensates the injured person for physical discomfort and emotional response to the sensation of pain caused by the injury itself. There is no definite standard by which to compensate the plaintiff for pain and suffering.
Similar to pain and suffering, but separate, is recovery of loss of enjoyment of life. Loss of enjoyment of life damages are designed to compensate for limitations on the ability to participate in, and derive pleasure from, the normal activities of daily life. In determining the amount of compensation for personal injuries, it is proper to consider past and present aspects of the injury. This would include physical and mental pain and suffering, expenses incurred for necessary medical treatment, loss of time and income which resulted from the impairment of the ability to work and earn a livelihood, the loss of enjoyment of life suffered as a result of the injury, and any other losses which are reflected by the character of the injury.
Very closely associated with pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is recovery for mental anguish. Mental anguish includes: mental suffering, apprehension, shock, fright, emotional upset, stress, humiliation and anxiety, and can be properly considered as an element of damages.
The amount of damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental suffering cannot be exactly measured and is often left to the judge or jury hearing the facts of the case.
The injured party may recover for those future damages that are reasonably sure to result from the injuries. The principle underlying compensation for future damages is that only one action can be brought and, therefore, only one recovery had. It is proper to include in the estimate of future damages compensation for loss of capacity for work or attention to the plaintiff’s ordinary business, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering which will, with reasonable certainty, result.
Vehicle Property Damage – Repair or Value of Vehicle
The amount of damages to a motor vehicle is the difference between the value of the vehicle immediately before it was struck and the value of the vehicle immediately after it was struck. If repairing the vehicle would put it in as good a condition as before the accident, then the measure of damages would be the cost of repair plus any amount by which the value of the vehicle was decreased due to its involvement in a collision. This is also called depreciation.
If the vehicle cannot be repaired, the measure of damages would be the value of the vehicle immediately before it was struck, minus any salvage value. This is referred to as “fair market value.”
Fair market value is not determined by how much you paid for the car or your emotional attachment to it. Fair market value is simply the amount of money a person would pay you to take ownership of the car. Unfortunately, the money that you can receive for a totaled vehicle is not what you may owe on the vehicle or what you think the value of the vehicle should be, but based on the market value of the vehicle of similar make, model, and condition.
Under South Carolina law, any vehicle that has a loss of 75% or more of the fair market value must be declared a total loss. Insurance companies can choose to declare a vehicle a total loss if it has sustained less than 75% of the fair market value or if the fair market value of the vehicle was less than $2000. Vehicles declared a total loss will be marked as “salvage” unless at least one of the following is true about the vehicle: (a) it is marked “non-rebuildable”; (b) it has been damaged less than 75% and has not sustained water or fire damage; (c) the value of the vehicle is less than $2,000; or (d) it has been titled as an antique vehicle.
Loss of Use of a Motor Vehicle
A victim of a motor vehicle collision also may be entitled to recover for the loss of the use of a vehicle during the time that the plaintiff was unable to use it. Actual damages for this purpose may be measured by determining what it would have cost the plaintiff to rent a similar vehicle while the plaintiff’s own vehicle was being repaired. In some situations, damages for loss of use of a vehicle may be awarded even if the plaintiff did not rent a car and even if the plaintiff borrowed a car. However, the plaintiff is required to make all reasonable efforts to minimize the damages, which is referred to as “mitigation of damages.”
Punitive damages are sometimes available to a victim of a motor vehicle collision. Punitive damages are only reserved for cases where the negligence driver was driving recklessly, under the influence, or operating with a conscious disregard for the safety of others. Often times a court can consider awarding punitive damage if an at-fault driver violates a specific safety statute found in the South Carolina Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, as contained in S.C. Code 1976, § 56-5-10 et seq., such as running a red light or disregard of traffic signs. As discussed below, punitive damages can be the hardest to prove so this remedy is not available in most everyday collisions.
Punitive damages are different from actual damages and are not the same as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are intended to punish at-fault for extraordinary and outrageous misconduct and to prevent the at-fault driver and others from committing similar acts in the future. Punitive damages can only be awarded when conduct of the at-fault driver has been something more than mere negligence. The evidence must establish the acts or omissions giving rise to the collision were grossly negligence, reckless, or willful and wanton, meaning there was a conscious failure to exercise due care or a conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others or a reckless disregard thereof.
To support an award of punitive damages, the court requires proof by clear and convincing evidence that the conduct complained of included a consciousness of wrongdoing at the time of the conduct. Clear and convincing is more than just a preponderance, or greater weight, of the evidence, which requires only proof which persuades you that a party’s claim is more likely true than not true. On the other hand, clear and convincing proof is not as high a standard as the burden of proof in criminal cases, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Clear and convincing proof leaves no substantial doubt in your mind. It means that the evidence is not ambiguous, doubtful, equivocal or contradictory. Convincing means persuading by proof or argument, causing one to believe in the truth of what is asserted. Clear and convincing proof establishes in your mind, not only that the fact is probable, but that it is highly probable. An punitive damage award imposed should take into account (1) the defendant’s degree of culpability; (2) the duration of the conduct; (3) the defendant’s awareness or concealment; (4) the existence of similar past conduct; (5) the likelihood the award will deter the defendant or others from like conduct; (6) whether the award is reasonably related to the harm likely to result from such conduct; (7) the reprehensibility of the conduct, the harm caused, (8) the defendant’s awareness of the conduct’s wrongfulness, (9) and any concealment. Thus, any penalty imposed should bear a relationship to the nature and extent of the conduct and the harm caused, including the compensatory damage award. Secondly, any penalty imposed should take into account, as a mitigating factor, any other penalty that may have been imposed or which may be imposed for the conduct involved, including any criminal or civil penalty or any other punitive damages award arising out of the same conduct.
A high percentage of serious roadway collisions and fatalities in South Carolina occur on the Interstates. The old saying from the South Carolina Department of Transportation is that roads “can be highways or dieways, the choice is yours.” The only way to prevent collisions and fatalities is to should enforce traffic laws, engineer safer roads and educate drivers of their duties and responsibility behind the wheel.
Several major Interstate roads run through South Carolina, including I-85, I-20, I-95, and I-26. The reason that a high number of serious injuries and fatalities occur on these Interstate highways is due to a combination of heavily traveled and congested roadways, large commercial trucks, and multiple lanes and and motorists are traveling at high speeds. To make matters worse, many of the Interstate highways and bridges in South Carolina are poorly maintained and need immediate repairs. The deteriorating conditions of the roadways are simply not safe for many drivers. The roads and highways of our neighboring states, North Carolina and Georgia, are much safer. Fortunately, in the last several years, the the State of South Carolina has begun much needed road construction to these Interstates. While construction efforts are ongoing, this also leads to more collisions due to the inherit dangerous of driving through construction zones.
Traffic Collision Statistics in South Carolina
- 141,00o+ traffic collisions in South Carolina in 2017
- Greenville and Charleston Counties had the highest amount of traffic collisions in 2017, totaling 34,000 collisions
- About 39,000 collisions resulted in injuries
- About 925 results in fatalities
- On average 1 traffic collision every 3 minutes
- Most collisions occur between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm
- Most fatal collision occur between 9:00 pm and midnight
- 1 person injured every 8.7 minutes
- 1 fatality every 9.5 hours
- One person killed in a DUI .08+ Collision every 28 hours
- One Unrestrained Vehicle Occupant killed every 27.5 hours
- One Bicyclist killed every 21.5 days
- One Motorcyclist killed every 3.1 days
- One Pedestrian killed every 2.3 days
- One Child Under 6 seriously injured or killed every 9.4 days
- Traffic collisions cost South Carolina citizens more than $4.5 billion in economic loss
Primary Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents in South Carolina:
- Failure to yield right of way
- Improper lane usage
- Failure to maintain distance from other vehicles
- Distracted driving
- Driving Impaired or Intoxicated
We Help Injured Drivers in South Carolina
The Goings Law Firm, LLC is a South Carolina law firm dedicated to helping people who were injured in motor vehicle collisions caused by the negligence and reckless driving of others on the roadway. Don’t confuse us with as one of those advertising lawyers on TV. You will not find us on TV. We are Real Lawyers who work hard to obtain Real Results. Instead of making cartoons on TV, we are in court working hard to get the best possible financial outcome for our clients.
The Goings Law Firm, LLC is a highly-rated law firm featured in publications such as Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. Robert Goings was recently named the Top Personal Injury trial attorney in the Midlands of South Carolina in a recent best attorney review publication. Many of the cases we handle involve large commercial trucks and eighteen wheelers that cause large collisions on the Interstate. We aggressively fight against the trucking industry from allowing unsafe drivers to violate federal and state motor carrier safety laws. Because of our track record of success obtaining large settlements and verdicts for our clients, we are often called to handle cases throughout the entire state in cases involving major collisions that result in serious injury and death.
If you were injured or family member or loved one has suffered a fatality from a car accident or truck accident in South Carolina, contact the Goings Law Firm, LLC today at (803) 350-9230 to find out about your legal rights. We are aggressive, yet compassionate. We will ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve though a personal injury or wrongful death legal action.
What are the Alcohol Liability and Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina?
The alcohol liability and dram shop laws in South Carolina can protect victims of alcohol related injury or death. Alcohol has proven to be a lead factor in the cause of injuries and deaths on the highways of South Carolina. South Carolina currently ranks 2nd for the most DUI fatalities per capita in the United States. In recovering for our clients, we do not stop with the drunk driver. We pursue those that cause and enable the drunk driver.
The Goings Law Firm regularly sues restaurants and bar owners, social clubs, and individuals in cases arising from accidents involving the service of alcohol to intoxicated persons and minors. Dram Shop laws are intended to prevent restaurants, bars, and clubs from serving alcohol to minors and serving alcohol to intoxicated persons. If a restaurant, bar, or club violates such Dram Shop laws and someone is injured as a result, the establishment can be held responsible for the injuries. Our attorneys are well versed in these laws and experienced in representing both injured victims involving the sale and service of alcohol.
South Carolina has specific statutory and common law that governs the liability of restaurants, bars, social clubs and even individual people (social hosts) with respect to the service of alcohol under certain situations. These laws govern what is known as dram shop liability, tavern owner liability, liquor liability and social host liability, and they may allow an injured party to hold a restaurant, bar, club, or individual responsible for injuries or death caused by the service of alcohol.
While South Carolina does not have a “Dram Shop Act,” it is illegal in South Carolina to “knowingly” serve alcohol to any person who is intoxicated. To pursue a Dram Shop action, the injured party must apply the criminal statutes governing alcohol control (S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580) and demonstrate that an establishment knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated person. If the injured party can establish that a restaurant or a bar knew or should have known that it was serving an intoxicated person, whether by signs of visible intoxication or based upon the type, number and time period over which the customer consumed alcoholic drinks, that restaurant or bar is liable for the resulting injuries and damages proximately caused by the drunk driver. Additionally, if a restaurant or bar knew or should have known an alcohol purchaser is under 21 years of age, then that restaurant or bar could be liable if the purchaser’s intoxication caused an injury. Similarly, an adult social host who knowingly serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other persons for damages proximately resulting from the host’s service of alcohol.
In a recent case, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a $10 million verdict against The Getaway Lounge & Grill and its owners. See Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge & Grill, Inc., 388 S.C. 407 (2010). The case involved a customer who spent a night visiting a number of bars, including The Getaway, before getting into a motor vehicle collision, which killed the customer and seriously injured the driver of the other vehicle. One of the owners of The Getaway testified that the customer did not appear intoxicated while he was there. Fluid samples taken from the customer’s body indicated that his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) was .212. At trial, a forensic chemistry expert, using a method known as “retrograde extrapolation,” estimated that his BAC when he left The Getaway must have been between .18 and .20 and that, therefore, “he would have been grossly intoxicated and exhibiting symptoms of intoxication.” The Court stated that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the forensic chemist’s expert testimony. Notably, the Court also held that a customer need not be “visibly intoxicated” for the imposition of dram shop liability; rather, “knowledge” of intoxication may be acquired through different mediums. The complexities of the Getaway case demonstrate that it is critical to retain an attorney with experience and knowledge in the area of dram shop litigation.
Dram shop liability is a specialized area of law, both from a practical and a legal perspective. Dram shop cases are often fact-intensive and require extensive resources and experts to prove the elements of the case. Dram shop cases often turn on the issue of liability, making the timely collection and analysis of police reports, receipts, video, social media, and eye witness statements crucial. Dram shop claims involve unique aspects of the law as well. For example, South Carolina’s modified joint and several liability system does not apply to conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol. This has significant consequences in multi-defendant litigation, resulting in the ability to collect 100% of the damages awarded from a restaurant or bar that is found just 1% liable. Also, there is no cap on punitive damages under for negligence based on alcohol liability. Thus, having an attorney experienced in dram shop litigation is crucial to both bringing and defending these claims.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver and you believe a bar or restaurant may be responsible, call us today at 803-350-9230 or contact us online for a free consultation today,
Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of traffic collisions. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality every 48 minutes in 2017. Based on the legal definition of impaired driving, alcohol-impaired crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above.
According to NHTSA 10,874 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2017. Alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all crash fatalities. Unfortunately, the DUI arrest rate is much lower. Statistics show that with nearly a million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence compared to the 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving that same year.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a DUI crash, you may be wondering what legal action you can take. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
Wrongful death laws allow survivors to pursue monetary compensation for those whose negligence or intentional act of harm caused a loved one’s death. Each state has its own wrongful death statute which governs how a wrongful death action is brought, the types of civil damages that are recoverable, and which family members are allowed to receive compensation. In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except the estate of the deceased person steps in to seek compensation on their behalf. The wrongful death action can only be brought by a person that is determined by the court to be the “personal representative.” So, not just any family members of the deceased to file the claim.
HOW STATE LAWS AFFECT DAMAGES
Though many DUI crashes result in criminal charges, some do not. If your loved one was killed in a drug or alcohol related collision, and the driver was not charged by the police, you still may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court.
South Carolina law also affect how damages are handled. Because a wrongful death case is a civil claim, liability comes in the form of damages, rather than punishment by imprisonment or other penalties that can be decided in a criminal case. South Carolina law the recovery of “compensatory damages, which includes the following:
- Pecuniary Loss – the loss of the deceased’s ability to earn money in which the beneficiary might logically and reasonable have been expected to share, such as money for the care and protection of the deceased’s spouse and children and for the education and training of the deceased’s children. Where the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child exists, pecuniary loss will be presumed.
- Mental Shock and Suffering.
- Wounded Feelings.
- Grief and Sorrow.
- Loss of Companionship.
- Loss of the use and comfort of the deceased’s society, including the loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, and judgment in managing the affairs of the deceased and his or her beneficiaries.
- medical and funeral expenses
In cases involving a drunk or impaired driver, South Carolina law may also permit punitive damages, which are designed the punish a defendant who’s found negligent and deter similar negligent actions in future.
WHEN TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
When a loved one dies in an alcohol-related crash, family members are often left stunned and unsure where to turn for help. Seeking legal advice immediately following the accident is advised, as evidence can be collected and eyewitnesses can be contacted. Memories get fuzzy, damages get repaired and the chance of video or photographic evidence being deleted or lost rises as time passes. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure as much evidence as possible is collected. You should never delay in determining your legal rights.
It is important to know that each state has a unique statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the legal principle that sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In South Carolina, a case generally must be filed within three (3) years of the date of the collision. In certain situations, this statute of limitations may be shortened to two (2) years if for some reason the case is governed by the S.C. Tort Claims Act. It is important to understand that if you fail to bring the case within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will forfeit your rights to assert any action.
LEGAL HELP FOR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have about your case.
The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC have represented many families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our team understands the importance of working quickly to gather evidence that can be used to help us fight for the justice you deserve. We have extensive experience representing the families of victims and other wrongful death claims in Alabama.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone getting behind the wheel when they were intoxicated or otherwise acting irresponsibly, call (803) 350-9230 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.
South Carolina ranks as the 2nd worst in DUI related fatalities in the nation based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Drunk drivers kill innocent people, or result in serious injuries that have devastating effects on families. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. In fact, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have by law set a threshold making it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. In 2017 there were 10,874 people killed in alcohol-impaired- driving crashes, an average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes. These alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States in 2017. Of the 10,874 people who died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2017, there were 6,618 drivers (61%) who had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 3,075 motor vehicle occupants (28%) and 1,181 nonoccupants (11%).
- In 2017 there were 10,874 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. This totaled 29 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year. (Note: It is illegal in every State to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher.)
- An average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2017.
- The estimated economic cost of all alcohol-impaired crashes (involving alcohol-impaired drivers or alcohol- impaired nonoccupants) in the United States in 2010 (the most recent year for which cost data is available) was $44 billion.
- Of the traffic fatalities in 2017 among chil- dren 14 and younger, 19 percent occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
- The 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage (27%) of drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher in fatal crashes compared to other age groups in 2017.
- The percentage of drivers with BACs
of .08 g/dL or higher in fatal crashes in 2017 was highest for fatalities involving motorcycle riders (27%), comparedto passenger cars (21%), light trucks (20%), and large trucks (3%).
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 was 3.6 times higher at night than during the day.
- In 2017 among the 10,874 alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities, 68 percent (7,368) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher.
There is some good new too — Fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased by 1.1 percent (10,996 to 10,874 fatalities) from 2016 to 2017. Alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities in the past 10 years have declined by 7 percent from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,874 in 2017. The national rate of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 was 0.34 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), down from 0.35 in 2016. The alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate in the past 10 years has declined by 13 percent, from 0.39 in 2008 to 0.34 in 2017. At the Goings Law Firm, we believe that one DUI related fatality is one too many. Drinking and driving have consequences, and it’s our mission to make sure at the drunk driver pays for the injuries and harm they inflict on the innocent. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driver related motor vehicle crash, call us today for a free, no obligation, consultation– the number is 803-350-9230.
Source: National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2018, November). Alcohol- impaired driving: 2017 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 630). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.