Who Pays the Hospital Bill and Lifelong Care Costs for Pedestrians With Severe Brain Injuries?

In Clinton and throughout the upstate, walking is a excellent form of recreation. Whether you are out for an afternoon stroll or headed out to run errands, there are numerous trails and walkways designed specifically to keep walkers safe. Unfortunately, South Carolina has a poor reputation nationally when it comes to the number of pedestrian accidents that occur within the state, and injuries sustained in these accidents can be severe, debilitating, and potentially life threatening.

At the Joye Law Firm, our experienced Clinton accident attorneys represent the interests of victims and the families of those who have been injured in pedestrian accidents. We understand how life altering these types of injuries can be, and the heavy costs associated with providing the lifelong care and medical treatment that is often required. In cases in which the victim was not following the state’s pedestrian laws, including those requiring the use of crosswalks at intersections, there may be serious questions as to your rights to compensation. In these types of case, you need aggressive legal representation to ensure your best chances for success.

Pedestrian Accidents and Injuries

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 5,000 people are killed as the result of pedestrian accidents each year in the United States, while more than 65,000 others suffer severe injuries, often resulting in permanent impairments. The Palmetto State in particular has a history of a high number of these types of accidents, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that, despite recent improvements, we continue to lead the nation in the number of pedestrian deaths each year.

Pedestrians have little defense against serious injuries when hit by a motorist, and even at a slow speed the impact alone is enough to cause permanent damage. In addition to broken bones and internal injuries, head and brain injuries are a common result in these accidents. According to the Mayo Clinic, the amount of damage depends both on the force of impact, as well as the part of the brain that is affected. While even a mild head injury may result in impairments to memory and cognitive functions, more severe brain injuries may result in seizures, severe cognitive impairments, disruption in bodily functions, as well as altered consciousness, which may take the following forms:

  • Temporary or permanent coma, in which the person is unaware of their surroundings and unable to respond to stimuli;
  • Vegetative state, in which the person’s eyes are open and they respond to stimuli, despite being unaware of their surroundings;
  • Locked-in syndrome, in which the person is awake and aware of their surroundings, but unable to move or speak;
  • Brain death, in which there is no activity in the brain or the brainstem, and the person needs to rely on artificial means to breathe and eat.

These types of situations are tragic for victims and heartbreaking for families, who are often helpless to do anything other than care for their loved one while holding onto the hope that they will one day wake up.

Dealing With Catastrophic Brain Injuries

Injuries that temporarily or permanently alter your quality of life are often referred to as catastrophic, due to the dramatic impacts they have on the sufferer and those around them. Caring for a person in an altered state of consciousness puts a tremendous strain on family members, both in terms of personal and financial costs. According to Health Talk, a resource for consumers and the medical community, families are often torn between wanting to bring their loved one home, yet being unable to provide the care they need. Caring for someone in a coma or a vegetative state requires full time attention to their medical and physical needs, leaving little room for work or other family obligations. The costs for a hospital stay alone are exorbitant, in addition to any special procedures or therapies that are often required, and if you are able to bring your loved one home, you will need to have the proper medical equipment and medical providers on hand. Common costs your family could incur include:

  • Physical rehabilitation expenses;
  • Experimental and alternative treatments;
  • Ongoing life support and ventilation;
  • Medical machinery to care for your loved one at home;
  • Medical supplies, such as a hospital bed and monitor;
  • Full time nursing staff;
  • Lifts and ramps to make your home handicapped accessible.

While the insurance company may cover some of these costs, there are numerous costs that will not be covered, which could affect your loved one’s overall quality of care. .

Determining Liability for Medical Bills and Lifelong Care Costs

While pedestrians may be entitled to compensation from at fault parties in the event of an accident, what happens if the victim themselves is partly responsible? South Carolina pedestrian laws, listed under Sections 56-5-3110-3280 of the SC Code, provide clear rules governing pedestrian conduct, including the requirement to use sidewalks when available and crosswalks for crossing intersections. While failing to follow these laws is a ticketable offense, it does not necessarily mean your loved one is denied the right to compensation.

Under South Carolina civil law statutes, comparative negligence is a legal theory that allows injured parties to recover damages, even if they were partly responsible for their injuries occurring. Provided the victim is less than 50 percent responsible for the accident leading to their injuries, they may still be entitled to damages through a personal injury lawsuit, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. An experienced accident attorney can assist you in showing the court that, while your loved one may have disobeyed the law by not crossing in a designated crosswalk, their injuries would not be as severe if not for the fault of the driver involved.

We Can Help You With Your Case

If you or someone you care about is injured in a pedestrian accident, contact our experienced Clinton accident attorneys right away. At the Joye Law Firm, we act as a strong legal advocate on your behalf, helping to protect your rights and best interests. We can advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable, while using our knowledge and expertise to assist you in getting the maximum amount of compensation allowed by law. We provide the kind of caring, compassionate legal representation you need, at a time when your family needs it most.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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