Car accidents happen daily in Columbia. Some cause only property damage. But many also inflict injuries to drivers and passengers, and a sizable portion of those injuries are severe or fatal. Columbia car accident victims frequently struggle with challenges that include extensive medical care, prolonged recovery times, temporary or permanent disabilities, and crushing financial losses.
This blog post takes a close look at the data on Columbia car accidents, the rights victims of them have to receive compensation, and the role a skilled Columbia car accident lawyer can play in getting them paid.
Columbia Car Accidents By the Numbers
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) and its annual Traffic Collision Fact Book supplies detailed insight into car crashes on a County-level basis. From that data, we can draw conclusions about car accidents in Columbia. Here's a breakdown of the numbers you need to know.
Number of Crashes in Columbia
According to SCDPS, approximately 86,000 car accidents happened in Richland County during a recent five-year period, accounting for about 10 percent of the statewide total of crashes during that period.
About 18,600 of those crashes occurred in the latest year for which data is available, ranking Richmond County third among all South Carolina counties for traffic collisions. The overwhelming majority of accidents in both periods took place in Columbia and its immediate environs.
Columbia Car Accident Injuries, Fatalities, and Economic Impact
The five-year death toll from car accidents in Richland County was 282, of which 74 happened in the most recent reporting year. Injuries in accidents totaled 24,400 during the five-year span and 4,500 in the latest year.
The SCDPS estimates that the total economic loss inflicted by traffic accidents in Richland County in the most recent reporting year was approximately $396,378,000, and even that large figure does not account for the non-economic harm victims and communities also suffered.
When Columbia Car Accidents Happen
Based on five-year averages, most car accidents in Columbia and greater Richland County happen during typically heavy traffic times, peaking during afternoon rush hour between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
More accidents happen on weekdays than weekends, with Friday the busiest of those days for collisions. On an annual basis, fall is the most active season for car accidents in the Columbia area. Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of all accidents in the region occur in October and November, a rate nearly 50 percent higher than the 12-month average.
Where and How Car Accidents Occur in Columbia
According to SCDPS data, the highest concentrations of car accidents in Columbia happen on major thoroughfares through town such as Gervais Street, Assembly Street, Bull Street, Blossom Street, and Elmwood Avenue.
In greater Richmond County, accidents are also common on highways like I-20, I-26, and I-77. Speeding or driving too fast for conditions represents the most common factors cited as a cause of a car accident, followed by failure to yield the right of way, following too closely, disregarding signs and signals, and improper lane usage or change.
Who Sustains Injuries in Columbia Car Accidents
Obviously, anyone can suffer injuries in a Columbia-area car accident. But the risks are not evenly distributed across the population, according to statewide data collected by SCDPS. Men appear to face far greater chances than women of suffering harm in crashes, and young adult drivers are most at risk.
In the most recent reporting year, more men than women were involved in traffic collisions across the state, despite female drivers outnumbering male drivers statewide. Additionally, men constituted a whopping 71 percent of persons killed in South Carolina car accidents. Among all age groups, people between 25 and 34 suffered the highest rates of injuries and deaths in crashes.
Types of Compensation for Car Accident Victims
Victims of car accidents in Columbia have the general legal right to receive two principal types of compensation: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include direct financial losses caused by an accident, including medical expenses, lost earnings and job benefits, property damage, and any other out-of-pocket costs related to the accident or the injuries that can be objectively quantified. Non-economic damages compensate.
Columbia car accident victims for their separate, non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In addition to these so-called compensatory damages, in some cases, a Richland County court may award punitive damages to an injured crash victim. These damages punish the at-fault party in a crash for particularly egregious or malicious conduct. They also aim to deter similar behavior by others in the future.
There's no fixed or standard amount of compensation you can claim for a Columbia car accident. The injuries and losses a crash causes are unique. The most reliable way to find out how much you could receive for a Columbia car accident is to connect with a skilled attorney today.
Compensation for Fatal Car Accidents in Columbia
When a Columbia car accident causes a tragic fatality, the deceased's surviving spouse, family members, or legal representative may have the right to seek compensation through related legal actions for wrongful death and survival.
A wrongful death action is a lawsuit by the deceased's family members or their representative seeking compensation for the losses they suffered through the death of their loved one.
Possible damages recoverable in a wrongful death action can include loss of financial support and benefits, loss of companionship, emotional anguish, funeral and burial expenses, and punitive (or exemplary) damages. The damages awarded in a wrongful death care are distributed to the deceased victim's surviving spouse, children, parents, or heirs in proportion to their loss.
Survival actions, which are commonly filed in tandem with wrongful death lawsuits, seek compensation for the losses the deceased would have been able to recover had they survived the injuries that resulted in death. These losses may include medical expenses incurred prior to death, conscious pain and suffering prior to death, and property damage losses.
The damages awarded in a survival action become part of the deceased's estate and get distributed according to the deceased's will, or, if no will exists, according to South Carolina's laws governing the distribution of an estate.
It is never easy to come to terms with the death of a loved one, especially when it is due to someone else's negligence. While no financial award can ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, compensation gained through wrongful death and survival actions can offer some financial relief during a very difficult time.
Contact an experienced lawyer today if you recently lost a loved one in a Columbia car accident.
The Role of a Lawyer in Columbia Car Accident Cases
The aftermath of a car accident in Columbia can feel overwhelming. But hiring a knowledgeable Columbia car accident lawyer can alleviate some of your stress. Skilled lawyers can handle seeking compensation for your injuries on your behalf, freeing you to focus your energy on healing from your injuries and rebuilding your life.
Lawyers know the laws, understand the local courts, and are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies and defense lawyers — all of which can be invaluable in securing fair payment for your losses.
The tasks a Columbia car accident lawyer fulfills can vary according to the client's needs and priorities. Lawyers craft legal strategies to secure you the maximum possible compensation as efficiently as possible, based on your circumstances.
The steps a lawyer takes in your case they may include:
- Case investigation: Many Columbia car accident cases start with a thorough analysis of the crash to identify its cause and identify those liable.
- Evaluation of damages: A lawyer can conduct a detailed and accurate analysis of your economic and non-economic damages to determine what constitutes fair compensation.
- Advising you and answering your questions: Lawyers can provide advice on how best to overcome your challenges and answer any questions you may have about your rights and options.
- Dealing with Insurance companies: Lawyers can take over all communication with insurance companies to ensure fair processing of your claim and protect you from insurance company tactics seeking to pressure you into accepting lower compensation than you deserve.
- Preparing and filing legal documents: Lawyers can draft and submit the necessary paperwork for lawsuits and insurance claims seeking monetary damages on your behalf.
- Negotiating settlements: Drawing on their extensive experience, a Columbia car accident lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies and defense lawyers to secure a fair settlement of your claim.
- Representing you in court: A lawyer can represent your interests in court, including by presenting your case to a judge and jury at trial.
- Collecting compensation: After a favorable settlement or verdict, lawyers can ensure you receive every penny owed to you.
Hiring a Columbia car accident lawyer is affordable no matter your financial circumstances. Most lawyers offer free consultations, allowing victims like you to gain an idea of their potential claim and legal options without any financial obligation.
Additionally, car accident lawyers in Columbia routinely work on a contingent fee basis, which means they only receive payment if they successfully secure compensation for their client. You pay nothing unless you see results.
Hire a Columbia car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A law known as the statute of limitations limits the time you have to take legal action. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to compensation. By immediately hiring a lawyer, you minimize the risk of missing that critical legal deadline. You also give the lawyer ample opportunity to secure evidence to support your claim, which maximizes your chances of success.
Contact an Experienced Columbia Car Accident Lawyer Today
The statistics don't lie. Car accidents are a serious problem in Columbia. But victims of Columbia car accidents have valuable legal rights to receive compensation. And a skilled Columbia car accident lawyer can handle getting it for you.
If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in a Columbia-area car accident, don't wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact an experienced Columbia personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation to learn about your rights.