Breaking Down A Pedestrian Accident In South Carolina
Speed is always a critical factor in car crashes. This element is even more critical in pedestrian accident claims. The pedestrian fatality rate is less than 10 percent if the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) vehicle was traveling slower than 15mph at the moment of impact. That fatality rate catapults to over 90 percent if the tortfeasor was traveling 40mph or faster. Most pedestrian-on-vehicle collisions happen outside marked crosswalks and in non-intersections. So, in most cases, these tortfeasors are moving at or near top speed when they strike pedestrians. Even if these victims survive, which is doubtful, they usually sustain catastrophic injuries.
Because of the high risk of serious or fatal injury, a Columbia personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial compensation in these cases. However, these claims are very complex. Such cases usually settle out of court, but they very rarely settle quickly. Attorneys must collect evidence, research the law, and thoroughly prepare cases before they can even begin thinking about settlement negotiations. So, if the case settles too quickly, the victim is probably settling for less.
Negligence claims start with a duty of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. This duty is based on the story of the Good Samaritan. The man in this story went out of his way to help an injured traveler. Likewise, drivers must go out of their way to avoid accidents.
Motorists breach their duty of care when they fail to avoid accidents. Striking a pedestrian in a roadway, even if that pedestrian doesn’t have the right of way, clearly qualifies as a breach of duty.
Next, a Columbia personal injury attorney must establish cause. Usually, South Carolina is a “substantial factor” state. The tortfeasor’s negligence must substantially cause damages. So, bad weather, like ice or rain, may contribute to wrecks. But it never causes wrecks, at least as far as state law is concerned.
Usually, victim/plaintiffs must sustain actual damages. These damages are usually quite high in catastrophic (life-threatening) injury cases. The medical bills alone in these matters usually exceed $100,000. Some victims may be able to file claims for negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Technically, when motorists strike pedestrians, even outside crosswalks, they usually violate South Carolina law. So, the negligence per se shortcut could apply in pedestrian accident cases. Tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate safety laws,
- The victim is in a protected statutory class, and
- That violation causes injury.
However, many emergency responders don’t issue citations in these situations, even if the victim was killed. As far as many officers are concerned, car crashes are civil disputes between insurance companies.
Resolving the Claim
If all the issues listed above are crystal clear, a pedestrian accident claim may settle within a month. However, questions usually abound in one or more of these areas.
So, to pressure the insurance company into settlement, most attorneys file legal paperwork. This filing usually triggers a mandatory mediation requirement.
During mediation, a neutral third party, who is usually an unaffiliated personal injury attorney, supervises a negotiation session. The mediator tries to bring two sides together and, more importantly, ensures that both sides negotiate in good faith. Because of this supervision, and also because the trial date is approaching, mediation is about 90 percent successful.
Count on a Reliable Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.