It might surprise you that pedestrians account for more than 1 in 10 people killed in car accidents in South Carolina each year. It might be less surprising that walkable Charleston has more than twice as many pedestrian fatalities as nearly every other city in the state. Meanwhile, North Charleston is No. 3 on the South Carolina pedestrian fatalities list.
Pedestrians — people on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down, or children playing, near or on a roadway — are killed and injured in car accidents in the same way as drivers, passengers and bicyclists. It is often because of a motor vehicle driver’s negligence. When such a pedestrian is struck by a car, the injured person, or the family of a deceased accident victim, may be entitled to seek compensation for medical bills and other losses.
When and How Charleston Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Pedestrians were one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or “NHTSA.”
In Charleston, eight pedestrians were killed in vehicle-related accidents in 2017, according to police. That number is up from just two pedestrian deaths in the city in 2016.
Also in 2017, 161 pedestrians were struck by vehicles and recorded as suffering some type of injury such as an incapacitating injury or a possible injury. That’s up from 146 pedestrians hit by motor vehicles in Charleston in 2016.
Seniors ages 65 and older and children are more likely to be fatally injured in a pedestrian accident, NHTSA says.
Pedestrian accidents are more likely:
- In cities (76 percent) versus rural areas
- At non-intersections (72 percent)
- In the dark (75 percent) versus in daylight or at dawn or dusk.
Alcohol is often a contributing factor as well. In about half of car crashes that cause a pedestrian’s death, either the driver or the pedestrian has consumed alcohol, NHTSA says.
Drunk driving is just one of the typical causes of pedestrian accidents. Others include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Driving while distracted
- Fatigued driving
- Improper passing
- Illegal turns
- Failure to look before proceeding, such as from a stoplight or driveway, or when backing up.
When pedestrians are struck and injured while walking beside a road or crossing an intersection, the person injured may have a legal right to file a personal injury claim if the driver caused the accident. But keep in mind, pedestrians in Charleston have to abide by traffic safety regulations too.
Charleston Pedestrian Rights and Duties
Pedestrians in Charleston must obey traffic signals. They are required to cross intersections with the light and must avoid stepping off a curb suddenly in front of an oncoming vehicle that is too near to avoid a collision. Pedestrians are to use Charleston crosswalks when available.
South Carolina law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians who cross a road outside of a crosswalk or without traffic signals are required to yield to motor vehicles. Contact a South Carolina Pedestrian Accident Lawyer today.
S.C. Drivers and Pedestrians Share Roads and Responsibilities
State and local laws delineate the shared responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians who use roadways, crosswalks, road shoulders and sidewalks in South Carolina. An important consideration after an accident is the pedestrian’s responsibility for his or her own safety. Did a pedestrian act in a way that contributed to his or her injury?
South Carolina follows the doctrine of comparative negligence in personal injury accidents. Each party’s relative fault in an accident, including a pedestrian accident, must be weighed. If the injured pedestrian bears some of the fault for the injury — say, 25 percent of the blame for crossing against the light, then any damages awarded in a pedestrian accident claim will be reduced by that percentage.
How fault is assigned after a specific accident depends on a Charleston County jury’s analysis of the contributing factors in the accident. In a South Carolina court, a pedestrian who was assigned 50 percent or more of the responsibility for the accident is not entitled to receive compensation.
Insurance adjusters also compare the fault of all those involved in an accident when negotiating a settlement.
Our Charleston pedestrian injury attorneys will work to gather and present evidence from the accident to present our client’s role in the accident in the best light possible.
Investigating Charleston Pedestrian Accident Claims
The driver of the vehicle that hit you might have been ticketed by Charleston police. A driver’s conviction of a traffic infraction is strong evidence of liability for a pedestrian’s injuries. But it doesn’t automatically ensure the outcome of a pedestrian injury claim.
Our Charleston pedestrian injury attorneys’ investigations look for a variety of potential evidence including:
- Police reports that will show whether the driver was charged.
- Statements from you, the driver and witnesses, such as fellow pedestrians, bystanders, other motorists.
- Skid marks at the accident scene, victim drag marks, presence of crosswalk and/or traffic control devices, visibility issues.
- Damage to the vehicle, such as dented hood, broken headlight or windshield, which can help illustrate vehicle speed and force of impact upon the accident victim.
- Damage to clothing, shoes, jewelry, personal belongings, which also indicates speed at impact.
- Security camera recordings, which may have recorded the accident and its aftermath and are increasingly available in cities like Charleston and N. Charleston.
- Driver cell phone records, which may show a phone in use at the time of the accident, indicating the driver was distracted by texting or talking on the phone.
- Credit/debit card records, which may indicate food or drinks bought just prior to the accident or alcohol purchases (potential drinking and driving).
- Social media content, where negligent drivers sometimes incriminate themselves after causing accidents.
We also analyze our clients’ medical records to understand their injuries, the extent of which may also indicate the driver’s speed at the time of the crash, as well as the pain and suffering the accident has inflicted upon our client.
A pedestrian hit by a car is typically thrown to the ground and sometimes dragged along the roadway or run over by the car. They may suffer catastrophic, potentially disabling and/or disfiguring injuries, such as:
- Head and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back and spine / spinal cord injury, including paralysis
- Hip, pelvis and rib fractures
- Long-bone fractures (tibia, fibula and femur)
- Internal organ damage (crush injuries)
- Torn knee ligaments and crushed knee caps
- Soft tissue injuries (contusions, abrasions, lacerations, degloving).
Compensation in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Our Charleston personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm examine medical bills and other costs of the accident to ensure our clients’ claims reflect the extent of the losses. In South Carolina, an accident victim is entitled to recover financial compensation for the full extent of their damages, including medical bills, lost income, lost future earnings and losses. This includes any economic as well as non-economic damages that you have suffered.
A list of damages that you may be entitled to after a pedestrian accident includes compensation for:
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Scars and permanent disabilities
- Lost earnings while recovering, or due to being unable to return to work
- Pain and suffering.
In cases in which a pedestrian accident causes a permanent disability, our attorneys may work with life care planning consultants to determine the long-term costs our client faces. These costs typically would include future medical treatment, therapy and medication needs, and any costs of adaptive equipment such as a wheelchair or house remodeling to add ramps or widen doorways. We also work with financial planners to project income loss due to diminished earning power or an inability to work for a living.
In a fatal pedestrian accident, a wrongful death claim could also seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses, and loss of consortium or companionship.
Hit by a Car While Walking in Charleston? Talk to Our Charleston, SC Injury Lawyers
An experienced Charleston attorney can help you seek full compensation if you have been struck by a car and injured in a pedestrian accident in South Carolina. It is important to speak with a lawyer and start an investigation as quickly as possible after the accident, so evidence can be preserved before it is destroyed or lost.
Our personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm have been providing effective legal representation to injured people in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, North Charleston, Clinton and across South Carolina for more than 40 years. We will review your pedestrian accident and discuss your legal options. If we handle your claim, we will work to obtain just compensation for your medical expenses, lost work time, pain and suffering, and other damages. Call Joye Law Firm today or use our online contact form to set up a free initial consultation today.
- Target Zero Traffic Deaths: South Carolina’s Highway Safety Plan FFY 2018
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Pedestrian Safety
- NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians — March 2018 (Revised)
- Charleston City Paper: The Crosstown just got new and improved pedestrian signals months after pedestrian death