Archive for June, 2022

Who Is Responsible When an Auto Accident Involves a Pedestrian in South Carolina?

Some people assume that motor vehicles are always to blame in pedestrian vs. car accidents. However, pedestrians also have laws to follow when walking along South Carolina roadways. Read below to find out who may be liable when a driver hits a pedestrian and what damages may be recovered by each party.

Is the Driver Always At Fault in a Pedestrian vs. Car Accident?

You may have heard that “pedestrians always have right of way.” However, that’s not always true in South Carolina. People who walk along roadways are required to follow nearly as many laws as drivers.

Pedestrian roadway laws can be found in the same South Carolina Code as motor vehicles: Title 56.

What Is Right of Way?

South Carolina Code Section 56-5-580 defines right of way as “the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed, proximity as to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other.” Basically, the person with right of way has the legal right to proceed along their path first, or with precedence over other vehicles and pedestrians.

In South Carolina, there is no overall assumption of right of way. Right of way is extended depending on the situation, including traffic signals and signs and circumstances (such as a roadway emergency or bus stop).

Traffic Lights and Traffic Control Signals

Pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-970, both motor vehicles and pedestrians must comply with traffic control signals.

A green light indicates that a vehicles and pedestrians may proceed forward through an intersection. Pedestrians must stay on sidewalks or marked or unmarked crosswalks when walking across streets.

When vehicles have a green arrow, they may turn, but must yield right of way to pedestrians who are lawfully in the crosswalk. Vehicles turning right must also yield right of way to pedestrians who are already lawfully in a crosswalk.

Pedestrians are not permitted to begin crossing a roadway while the light or traffic control signal is yellow. Yellow indicates that there is insufficient time to cross before a red indication.

Neither cars nor pedestrians may cross a roadway where there is a red traffic signal.

Special Pedestrian Control Signals

South Carolina use special pedestrian control signals as described in South Carolina Code Section 56-5-990. When the signal indicates “Walk,” a pedestrian facing that signal may proceed in the direction of the signal. They are to be given right of way by all motor vehicle drivers.

When a signal reads “Wait,” a pedestrian should not cross the roadway. If they are in the middle of the crosswalk, then they should continue to a sidewalk or safety island and wait until the signal changes to “Walk.” Motor vehicles have right of way when the pedestrian traffic signal reads “Wait.”  

Motor Vehicles Must Take Precautions Around Pedestrians

While motor vehicles may have right of way in certain situations, they still must be cautious when driving around pedestrians.

Reducing Speeds When Around Pedestrians

Under South Carolina Code Section 56-5-1520, drivers should reduce their speed when approaching pedestrians. This applies to situations where there are crosswalks as well as when pedestrians are on or beside the roadway for other reasons.

Obstructing Pedestrian Crossings

Motor vehicle drivers must also ensure they do not obstruct pedestrian crossings. For example, if a driver stops at a red light, they must provide pedestrians enough space to cross within the unmarked or marked crosswalk.

Pedestrians Stopped at Roadway Emergencies

Additionally, if there are pedestrians at an emergency scene along the side of a roadway, then motor vehicles must not block access to the emergency scene and slow down or move over to a lane farther away from the scene, if possible.

Pedestrian Roadway Workers

When pedestrian workers are on the roadway, all drivers must yield right of way to those workers. Drivers must follow special traffic control devices presented by pedestrian workers as well.

Bus Pedestrians

Drivers who come upon a school bus must abide by yellow lights and red stop signs used by the bus driver. Pedestrians getting onto and off the bus have right of way. Failure to yield right of way to a bus pedestrian that results in great bodily injury or death can result in a felony conviction. 

Who Is Responsible for Injuries in a Pedestrian vs. Car Accident?

If a pedestrian accident occurs, then the person who is at fault is responsible for the other party’s damages. That means, if the pedestrian had right of way and a driver hit them on the roadway, then the motor vehicle driver is responsible for paying for the injuries of the pedestrian. In most cases, the driver’s insurance company will cover losses like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

If a pedestrian was at fault for an accident, then they may be responsible for property damage or other losses to the car driver. This might require the driver to file a personal injury lawsuit against the pedestrian.

Comparative Negligence in South Carolina

However, South Carolina has a modified comparative negligence law that can affect your ability to recover compensation. Under this law, as long as the plaintiff is less than 51% responsible for the accident, they are eligible for financial recovery from the at-fault party. That means that someone who is partially at fault can still recover.

If a person is partially at fault, their compensation will be reduced by the percentage they are found to be responsible for the accident. For example, if you are 20% at fault for the accident and you had $100,000 in damages, then you can only recover $80,000 from the defendant.

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, you should immediately contact a lawyer who can help you navigate a complex personal injury claim. These cases are often heavily fought by insurance companies who do not want to pay out for the severe injuries parties receive. Call attorney Ryan Montgomery today at (864) 207-4927.

What To Do After a Boating Accident in South Carolina

South Carolina is known for beautiful lakes and reservoirs, including Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee, and Saluda Lake. These bodies of water allow residents and visitors a plethora of recreational activities like fishing and boating. However, the fun you can have in the Palmetto State is not without risk. You should be aware of potential dangers while on the water. Read below to learn more about what you should do after a boating accident in South Carolina.

Report Your Boating Accident to the Authorities

If you have a boating accident in South Carolina, you are required to report the incident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). You can call them immediately at 1-800-922-5431.

If the accident involved more than one boat or anyone was seriously injured, you should also call the police. You can use the emergency line 911 to request an ambulance or rescue personnel. If you only need to document the crash and have a police officer file an accident report, then you may also call the local non-emergency line.

You are required to report any watercraft accident that results in:

Failure to make a report can result in penalties pursuant to state and federal laws.

Get Medical Treatment

The person who was injured in the boating accident should immediately get medical treatment. Some injuries, such as a concussion or bruises, may not appear for hours or days after an accident. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor right away to establish a basis for your injuries.

The medical records from your urgent care or emergency room visit will be used in your insurance claim to prove how much money you deserve for your losses. If you fail to get medical treatment, you may not be able to get all of the compensation you deserve.

Document the Scene and Collect Contact Information

In the aftermath of a boating accident, it is important to document what happened. The lakes of South Carolina can quickly hide evidence. You should take pictures and videos of the watercraft involved (including their vessel numbers), any injuries people sustained, and the environment around the incident.

Also, collect contact information and insurance policy numbers from everyone involved in the accident. If there are eyewitnesses, make sure you get their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. You will need this information to give your attorney a head start on investigating what happened.

Do Not Admit Fault or Speculate About the Cause

When you are talking to the other parties involved in the boating accident, do not admit fault. Even if you are unsure what happened and think you may be partially to blame, you should never say that to the other parties. They will use this against you.

Instead, calmly communicate with anyone else who was involved as well as the authorities when they arrive. When providing a report to the police or SCDNR agent, remain factual. Do not volunteer unnecessary information. Don’t speculate what may or may not have caused the accident.

Notify Your Insurance Company

As soon as possible after the accident, you should notify your insurance company of the incident. Many insurance companies require 24 to 48 hours’ notice; otherwise, they may deny your claim. You will also want to contact any other insurance companies with which you plan on filing a claim.

Be careful when you speak to the insurance adjusters. Their job is to pay you as little as possible so that the company continues to make money. They will use anything you say against you. It’s best to talk to a boating accident lawyer before you call the insurance companies.

Don’t accept an initial offer from the insurance company and never sign anything until you get legal advice. The insurance company may throw money at you in an attempt to make the claim go away. However, it will not likely cover all your losses. Instead, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney who can properly calculate your damages and help you get what you deserve.

Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer for Help After an Accident

Boating is supposed to be fun, but when an accident occurs the situation can become confusing. You may be unsure of where to turn or what to do. Your best option is to call a boat accident attorney who can evaluate your situation and help you choose your next steps.

Attorney Ryan Montgomery has helped countless clients who had boat accidents in lakes and on waterways around Greenville, SC. He is here to guide you as well. Call today at (864) 207-4927 for a case consultation.