The streets and highways in Columbia see a significant amount of traffic every day. While most trips take place safely, car accidents do occur. These incidents cause not only damage to vehicles but also, in many cases, injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Understanding where accidents frequently happen can help you navigate the roads more cautiously.
No matter how careful you are, though, accidents are sometimes unavoidable, leaving you to deal with the aftermath. In such situations, an experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the complexities of auto accident claims, protecting your legal rights and securing the compensation you deserve.
The report adds that the most common time for accidents along Columbia's traffic corridors is from midnight to 6 am when nearly a third of all accidents happen in these areas. The morning rush also accounts for a high percentage of accidents, with more than 28 percent of all accidents in high crash corridors occurring from 6 am to noon. Slightly over half of Columbia's traffic accidents take place on the weekend.
Navigating Columbia's roads can be challenging due to the city's dense traffic conditions and diverse road types. Awareness of the areas prone to accidents can prepare you to be vigilant while driving. However, remember that accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.
Each location comes with hazards, and while understanding them is crucial, there isn't always a way to predict or avoid being in proximity to risky drivers. After an accident, your personal injury lawyer will consider these factors while investigating your case and working to secure your compensation.
Intersections are often hotspots for traffic accidents due to the crossing paths and multiple directions of traffic. Intersections require more attention and careful driving, whether where two or more roads meet, a roundabout, or a complex junction.
Highways and Expressways
High-speed roads, such as highways and expressways, are another common site for accidents. High velocity, frequent lane changes, and merging traffic can create situations that lead to accidents.
Residential areas might seem safer due to the lower speed limits and decreased traffic, but they are not immune to accidents. Reckless drivers, unpredictable child pedestrians, parked cars, and tight corners can all contribute to accidents in these areas.
Parking lots, despite the slow speeds, are not free from accidents. With cars moving in multiple directions, including reversing out of parking spaces, and pedestrians walking between vehicles, there's a constant risk of low-speed collisions.
Factors Contributing to Accidents at Various Locations in Columbia
SCDPS notes that a person gets injured in a South Carolina traffic accident every 9.8 minutes, and more than 2,300 of these people have serious injuries that require medical treatment and a recovery period. Car accidents in the state represent an annual economic loss of over $5 billion.
While the location of a car accident can play a significant part in its occurrence, numerous other factors contribute to accidents at these locations. Your personal injury lawyer will consider these aspects during the investigation and legal proceedings following a car accident. These factors can influence the determination of fault and your claim's direction.
Speeding is one of the top causes of accidents, particularly on highways and expressways. High speeds reduce the driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extend the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increase the distance a vehicle travels as the driver reacts to a dangerous situation. Speeding doesn't just involve driving over the posted speed limit but also driving too fast for the weather and traffic conditions on the roadway.
SCDPS reports that driving too fast for conditions is a leading cause of car accidents in the state, resulting in nearly 40,000 collisions per year, accounting for 265 deaths and more than 13,000 injuries.
Distracted driving, such as texting while driving, fiddling with a navigation system, eating, or any activity that diverts attention from driving, is another significant factor contributing to accidents. It can endanger the driver, passengers, and bystanders. Distracted driving is a common cause of car accidents in Columbia and throughout South Carolina, where more than 2,500 people per year get injured due to drivers not giving their full attention to safe driving.
The influence of alcohol impairs a driver's ability to operate their vehicle safely, leading to serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Drunk driving is a considerable risk to drivers and other road users.
As reported by WLTX, a recent study found South Carolina to be among the worst states for drunk driving, noting that for every 100,000 licensed drivers in the state, there are 289.6 charges of driving under the influence. Nearly a third of all traffic-related deaths that occur in the state are the result of drunk drivers.
Poor Road Conditions
Poor road conditions from weather, construction, or lack of maintenance can contribute to accidents. Slippery roads, potholes, and reduced visibility all play a role in causing a collision.
While most accidents result from a driver's error, such as not giving their full attention to safely operating their vehicle, nearly 300 people receive injuries yearly due to poor road conditions, according to SCDPS. The most common road condition leading to accidents in the state is debris or obstructions on the road.
Legal Implications Following a Car Accident
After a car accident caused by another party's negligence, you may deal with a range of legal issues, including determining liability and seeking compensation for the financial and psychological consequences of the harm you incurred, both physically and to your car.
South Carolina is a tort state. This means that when an accident occurs on Zimalcrest Drive, at another identified high collision area in Columbia, or any other road in the city, you can hold the person or entity whose negligence caused the accident financially responsible for all resulting injuries and property damage.
Insurance is the most likely source for compensation, as most negligent drivers do not have out-of-pocket funds to compensate others for the costs of injuries and property damage.
Suppose an at-fault party's insurer fails to fairly compensate a claim from someone who received an injury due to their insured's actions. In that case, South Carolina Code Section 15-3-530 typically allows the claimant to file a legal complaint (lawsuit) in court within three years to seek compensation.
While some exceptions apply to this statute of limitations—and your attorney will tell you if an exception applies in your case—you must submit most claims during this time to retain your right to use the court process when seeking compensation. Missing the statute of limitations not only bars you from filing a lawsuit but also removes the insurance company's legal obligation to resolve your claim, meaning a settlement is unlikely after this amount of time passes.
It's crucial to remember that navigating these implications is complex, often requiring a deep understanding of legal principles and procedures. Relying on a personal injury lawyer can take the burden off your shoulders and ensure you proceed most effectively. Here are some potential legal consequences that might arise from a car accident.
Dealing With Insurance Claims
After an accident, you typically need to deal with insurance companies, either your own or the other party's. This process involves filing claims, negotiating settlements, and potentially disputing the insurer's determination of who's at fault. Your lawyer can handle these interactions for you and protect your interests from the attempts some insurance companies make to reduce or eliminate claims and protect their bottom line.
The Role of a Car Accident Lawyer Post Accident
While enduring a car accident can leave you feeling disoriented and overwhelmed, remember that help is available. An experienced car accident lawyer can provide guidance and support and make the journey to recovery less arduous by handling all the legal issues of your case.
Navigating Insurance Claims
Most compensation for personal injuries from car accidents comes from a negotiated settlement with the insurance provider. Following an accident, dealing with insurance companies can be stressful and confusing. Your personal injury lawyer can handle this task, filing your claim correctly and advocating for you during negotiations so that you can focus on your recovery.
Collecting and Analyzing Evidence
Evidence is crucial to building a strong case. Your lawyer will collect the necessary evidence, which can include police reports, witness statements, medical records, and data from the scene of the accident.
Guidance Through Legal Processes
Your lawyer will guide you through every step, from filing claims to preparing for potential court proceedings. They'll ensure you understand each requirement.
Advocacy in Case of Litigation
If your case goes to court, your lawyer will act as your advocate, representing your interests in front of the judge and jury. They'll present your case in the most persuasive way possible, seeking to secure a verdict in your favor. While recovery is paramount after an accident, upholding your legal rights is also essential. A personal injury lawyer takes on this responsibility so you can focus on getting back on your feet.
The Type of Compensation Available Through a Car Accident Claim
In a personal injury case, compensation awarded to the victim is typically called damages. Damages can cover medical expenses, lost earnings, property damage, and non-economic impacts, such as pain and suffering. You may also seek punitive damages to punish the defendant’s recklessness. Your lawyer will explain the damages you may claim.
Securing Appropriate Compensation for the Harm You Incurred
Securing appropriate compensation isn't just about filing a claim. Before filing the claim, your attorney will need the bills, receipts, and other documentation of the expenses you incurred due to the accident and how your injury altered your life. Your lawyer will wait until you've reached maximum medical improvement—the point where your injury is stable, and any continued treatment is not likely to result in additional recovery—to value your claim.
Securing appropriate compensation for the claim can involve negotiations with insurance companies looking for reasons to offer a lower settlement or even shift the blame to you. It can also include representing you in court if the insurance company fails to resolve the claim through the settlement process fairly. Your personal injury lawyer plays a crucial role in each step.