Columbia Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
No pedestrian out for a stroll should ever have to worry that they will be struck by a vehicle. However, at Auger & Auger, we see this happens with alarming regularity. As a family firm, we know that when a child or senior is injured, the emotional toll can be particularly difficult. Unfortunately, these two age groups are the most likely to be hit by a vehicle while walking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19% of all pedestrian deaths involve a person age 65 or over. This age group represents approximately 13% of all pedestrian injuries as of 2015. This is particularly distressing because seniors represent 9% of the Columbia population.
When a pedestrian has been struck by a vehicle, we will send our Columbia pedestrian accident attorney team to the scene and conduct our own investigation. We will dedicate ourselves as the victim’s advocates from beginning to end, ensuring that they are treated fairly.
Seniors May React More Slowly
Nine percent is not a big number until you do the math. The current population of Columbia is estimated at 134,309. This means that nearly 12,088 residents are considered seniors, and approximately 19% (or 2,296) do not have access to a vehicle. The numbers say that there are thousands of people who may be walking for health, pleasure, or just to get from one place to another. Seniors, in particular, are often urged to spend more time walking to improve mobility and overall health.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that there are several safety considerations unique to seniors; these include:
- Worsening of hearing and vision
- Reduction in reflexes
- Loss of flexibility
Imagine a car barreling through an intersection despite the presence of pedestrians in a marked crosswalk. A young person with quick reflexes would see and hear the vehicle’s engine (realizing it wasn’t going to stop) and most likely be able to jump out of the way. A senior citizen may not see or hear the vehicle until it is too late to move and is more likely to be struck. The two outcomes are very different and show just one of the issues that elderly pedestrians face.
Children Face Additional Risks of Being Hit by a Car
The CDC reports that one in five kids who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020 were pedestrians. While children are less likely to have age-related health concerns, they may be at increased risk for other reasons:
- Younger children may not understand the risks of running into the street after a ball or getting to the other side. Of course, small children should be supervised outside, but sometimes they can dart into the street while the caregiver has their head turned for just a few seconds.
- Older children may understand how to cross a street safely but become distracted by their phones and forget to practice those principles. Adults are not immune to the attention-grabbing nature of screens either.
- Another issue is that while teenagers may have good hearing, they often wear earbuds and listen to music. This presents the same problem as the senior citizen with hearing loss – they may not hear a car coming until it’s too late. A teenager wearing earbuds and staring at their phone is even riskier.
What Can You Do to Reduce the Risk of Your Kids Being Hit by a Car?
The health issues that put older adults at more risk aren’t always preventable, but many of the risk factors faced by children are. You can help lower the chances of your child being hit by a car by educating them on the dangers and making sure they know what to do to stay safe:
- Teach young children crosswalk safety as early as possible. Some parents tell their children always to hold their hands while crossing the street. That’s a great idea, but you can still talk to your child about safety while crossing. Even young children may be able to absorb information such as, “Daddy always looks both ways before crossing a street,” or, “Mommy only crosses when the walk sign comes on.” This could be helpful when they’re older or if they ever accidentally get separated from a caregiver.
- Tell older kids that using their phone or wearing earbuds while walking and especially while crossing a street is unsafe. Encourage them to wait until they reach their destination to check their messages. This habit will still be useful when they get older and start driving!
South Carolina Pedestrian Law
As your Columbia pedestrian accident attorney, we know that drivers don’t always stop to consider the rights of foot travelers. There are several sections of the South Carolina Code of Law that should be of interest to drivers as well as those traveling on foot. Section 56, Article 25 outlines the rights and duties of pedestrians. Highlights include:
- Pedestrians must obey traffic control devices; and,
- A pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk; and,
- When no signals are present at a crosswalk, the pedestrian should not step into the roadway close enough to a vehicle to constitute a hazard; and,
- Pedestrians must yield to motorists when crossing the street outside of a marked walk; and,
- Drivers are expected to use due care in every situation to avoid striking a pedestrian, whether they have the right of way, or not.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
It’s hard to predict how you might react to being hit by a car. If you’re injured, you may be in pain and have difficulty thinking straight. Your priority should be making sure you’re not still in danger – that you’re out of the road and won’t be hit again – and getting medical care for your injuries. Be sure to call 911 and report the accident right away.
Another important thing to know is that you should always let the paramedics check you out, even if you don’t think you’re injured or believe your injuries are mild. Sometimes injured people feel little or no pain immediately after an impact. The fear and adrenaline rush associated with the trauma can distract you from the pain. Some injuries may not hurt at first, but as the body tries to heal the injury and the affected area becomes swollen, you may develop pain later on. If you suddenly have pain or other symptoms even a few days after your accident, see a doctor immediately and tell them what happened.
If you’re able, ask the driver for their contact info and car insurance policy number. If they give you a hard time, don’t argue with them. The police will get this information out of them, and you can find it on the police report in a few days.
Sadly, some pedestrian accidents result in the driver speeding off and leaving the victim on the side of the road. If this happens, do your best to get the license plate number; if you can’t see it, try to remember as much detail as possible about the car’s appearance. Give the description to the 911 operator so they can alert law enforcement to look for the car right away.
What Should I Do About All These Bills?
Once the immediate danger has passed, this quickly becomes a pressing concern for many people. Medical treatment is not cheap these days, even with good insurance. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents often result in severe injuries because a person on foot has little protection from a two-ton vehicle that may be moving 55MPH or more.
In car accidents, the at-fault party is expected to be responsible for the injured person’s medical bills. Most of the time, you will seek compensation from the driver’s insurance policy. South Carolina law requires that drivers purchase at least $25,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury per person and the same amount in property damage.
The next steps seem simple, but there are numerous possible obstacles to getting your bills paid. Here are some common scenarios:
- The driver and/or their insurance carrier claim you were at fault. We’ve met more than one client who was shocked to learn the driver who ran into them also blamed them. Sometimes the driver claims that the pedestrian was crossing against the light, was not in the crosswalk, or darted out in front of the car. Unfortunately, if the law enforcement officers who responded couldn’t find any witnesses, this may be difficult to disprove. But that doesn’t mean you should give up! Here at Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers, we have an experienced investigative team that will thoroughly investigate your accident. We can often locate additional people who saw the accident or recover electronic data, such as doorbell or traffic camera footage. If your claim has been denied due to a “fault” issue, don’t call the insurance company; call us for a free consultation.
- The driver didn’t have insurance. If the driver does not have insurance, you can sue the driver directly, but if they have few assets, you may not be able to collect even a fraction of what they owe you. However, your attorney will look at all options for covering your expenses, including your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, which also works on pedestrian accidents.
- The driver has insurance, but not enough to cover your bills. Again, pedestrian accidents tend to cause multiple, severe injuries. You can quickly end up with a hospital bill in the tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes even six figures. If the person who hit you only carried the minimum coverage, you could still be deep in debt for your medical care. And that doesn’t even take into consideration your other damages, like pain and suffering or a permanent injury or disability. If this is the case, your attorney will go over other options for seeking compensation, including suing the driver directly and making a claim on your own insurance, which may or may not provide additional coverage depending on the type of policy you have.
- You make a claim, and the driver’s insurance company quickly extends what seems like a generous offer. Wait, why is this a problem? It sounds like what you want, but be careful. Often, when an insurance carrier makes an offer right away, it’s actually a lowball offer that doesn’t cover all your damages. Keep in mind that medical bills may not be the only damages that you have. Additionally, your current medical bills may not be the only bills you will ever get for your injuries, especially if you need long-term care or develop a chronic condition because of the accident. We strongly recommend that you speak to a lawyer before accepting any offer from the insurance carrier. If it’s truly a good offer, you can accept it. If not, we can help you negotiate a settlement that encompasses all your damages.
You Deserve Auger & Auger In Your Corner
With over four decades of combined legal experience, Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers knows what it takes to win a case. You deserve a knowledgeable advocate who isn’t afraid to fight for your rights. Our positive reviews prove that you’ve made the right choice, and our zero-free guarantee means you don’t have to worry about the cost.
If you are struck by a vehicle while walking, the injuries sustained can be life-altering. As a Columbia pedestrian accident attorney firm, we have represented victims with spinal cord injuries, traumatic head injuries, broken bones, and more. We understand the financial strain these types of wounds can place upon a family, and we are here for you.
Call (803) 470-5298 for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!