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Don’t Ruin Thanksgiving with a DUI

Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer in Anderson, SC

Nearly half of all Americans travel during the holiday season and Thanksgiving weekend is usually the busiest time on the roads.  Everyone is in a big hurry to get to their destinations and once they arrive, people just want to relax and have a good time.

Thanksgiving is when we pause and express gratitude for our blessings.  We love spending time with family and friends.  The problem is, too many folks see it as a time to drink…and drive.  Last year, law enforcement in South Carolina made nearly 22,000 DUI arrests.  Over 3,500 people were injured in DUI collisions and more than 200 died.  Property damage wrecks exceeded 2,500.  The consequences of drinking and driving are real and local.

Many of us have been at a bar, club, or even a private party, where there’s plenty to drink.  People drink to relax and the alcohol impairs their judgment enough that they assume they’re fine to drive.  It’s not hard to imagine the dangers of someone roaring drunk behind the wheel.  But folks who are just slightly intoxicated can also pose a huge threat on the road.

You’ve probably seen police shows where officers conduct sobriety tests, including blowing into a breathalyzer.  You blow in a straw and a device measures your alcohol level.  In South Carolina, the legal alcohol limit is 0.08.  Some people reach that intoxication level with just two drinks.  Even with a legal blood alcohol content of 0.05, your chances of having a car wreck increase 100% over being sober.  On top of that, legal defense of a DUI charge can easily cost you $10,000 to $30,000—or more.  Of course, the price of causing property damage, injuries, or even death could be far greater.

Here’s a simple truth: DUI wrecks are preventable.  If people who drank too much didn’t get behind the wheel, they wouldn’t crash vehicles, destroy property, or injure others.  Now more than ever, it’s easier to keep intoxicated people from driving- 1) Have a designated driver in your group; 2) Call a cab; 3) Text a friend to pick you up; or 4)  Hire an Uber or Lyft driver to deliver you safely.  The price of that ride is nothing compared to the cost of driving drunk.

Trammell & Mills doesn’t handle DUI cases.  That’s not our area of practice.  However, we do deal with the victims of DUI crashes.  People who had a vehicle, property destroyed or got injured because of someone else’s irresponsible driving.  We see the suffering our clients have endured from property damage, hospital bills, and missed time from work.  The reality is that insurance companies drag their feet when it comes to paying claims and may not even cover real costs.  We fight hard every day to get victims fairly compensated for the foolish mistakes of others.

Don’t ruin Thanksgiving with a DUI.  Please be safe and make smart decisions during the holidays.  Avoid being stopped by the police, getting into a wreck, causing injuries to others, or possibly killing innocent people.  It’s just not worth a few drinks. However, if ignorance and recklessness come into your life and harm your family or property, call Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC to handle the civil side of justice.

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November is the Peak Month for Vehicle-Deer Collisions

The Highway Loss Data Institute reported:

November is the peak month for vehicle-deer collisions, and a new analysis of insurance claims and federal crash data indicate the problem is growing. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), recently examined insurance claims for animal strikes under comprehensive coverage month by month from January 2005 through April 2008. The main finding is that insurance claims for animal collisions are nearly 3 times higher during November than the typical month earlier in the year.

  • State Farm, the nation’s largest auto insurer, estimates that there were more than 1.2 million claims for damage in crashes with animals during the last half of 2007 and the first half of 2008. The company says animal strike claims have increased 14.9 percent over the past 5 years.
  • The states with the largest number of total deaths are Texas with 227 deaths during 1993-2007, Wisconsin with 123, and Pennsylvania with 112.
  • “The months with the most crash deaths coincide with fall breeding season,” Anne McCartt, IIHS’s senior vice president for research, points out. “Crashes in which people are killed are most likely to occur in rural areas and on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher. They’re also more likely to occur in darkness, at dusk, or at dawn.”
  • Most of the crash deaths occurred after a motor vehicle had struck an animal and then run off the road or a motorcyclist had fallen off a bike. Many of these deaths wouldn’t have occurred with appropriate protection. The study found that 60 percent of the people killed riding in vehicles weren’t using safety belts, and 65 percent of those killed riding on motorcycles weren’t wearing helmets.

A recent article by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources stated:

Despite a persistent rumor, neither the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) nor any other state agency will compensate motorists for injuries or damages resulting from deer collisions. Besides practicing safe and defensive driving techniques, each motorist should carry adequate collision and comprehensive insurance.

Do you have the proper insurance coverage to protect you and your loved ones if a deer were to surprise you on an early November morning or late November night? Read my article on Full Coverage, advise your insurance agent, or call our office to learn more about insurance coverage.

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Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in South Carolina

A pedestrian walking across the street to Anderson University was struck on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, according to WSPA and other media outlets.

pedestrian, or any person on foot, has duties just like those driving motor vehicles to be responsible, however, sometimes the higher duty and responsibility remains with the driver of the motor vehicle to be more alert and observant.

South Carolina Drivers’ Manual is where we all started and had to learn the “rules of the road” before being granted permission to get our license. After the introduction, the manual goes into “General Information”, more specifically the subsection entitled, “Sharing the Road” states:

It is your responsibility as a driver to be on the lookout and to take every precaution possible to not injure a person on foot. If you see a vehicle, pedestrian or children near the road, you should slow down and be prepared to stop. (General Information p.45)

The South Carolina Code of Laws sets forth a few reminders for all of us drivers on the roadways as it pertains to pedestrians:

  1. SECTION 56-5-3230.Drivers to exercise due care.

Notwithstanding other provisions of any local ordinance, every driver of a vehicle shallexercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.

  1. SECTION 56-5-1520.General rules as to maximum speed limits; lower speeds may be required.

(A) A person shall not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. Speed must be so controlled to avoid colliding with a person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of a person to use care.

(F) The driver of a vehicle shall drive, consistent with the requirements of subsection (A), at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, approaching a hillcrest, when traveling upon any narrow bridge, narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

South Carolina case law follows in line with the before mentioned rules in stating:

  • One operating a motor vehicle on a public highway owes an urgent duty to keep a proper lookout and to keep the vehicle under proper control.  Yaun v. Baldridge, 134 S.E.2d 248, 251 (S.C.1964).
  • Negligence is established as a matter of law if the only inference is that either the driver did not look or did so in such a careless fashion as not to see what was in plain view. Williams v. Davis, 243 S.C. 524, 134 S.E.2d 760 (1964).

No one may truly know what happened during the incident. However, this is a time to remind all of us who get behind the wheel to just remain alert and vigilant to our surroundings.

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Hit-and-Run Accidents in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

I would imagine lawlessness abounds greatly in every state but lately it seems so many people are driving without any automobile insurance and/or not even stopping after being involved in a collision if they are able to drive away.

South Carolina law is clear on the requirements a driver involved in a hit-and-run must meet in order to pursue their own “uninsured” insurance coverage.  S.C. Code 38-77-170 copied below states:

SECTION 38-77-170. Conditions to sue or recover under uninsured motorist provision when owner or operator of motor vehicle causing injury or damage is unknown.

If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, there is no right of action or recovery under the uninsured motorist provision, unless:

(1) the insured or someone in his behalf has reported the accident to some appropriate police authority within a reasonable time, under all the circumstances, after its occurrence;

(2) the injury or damage was caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, or the accident must have been witnessed by someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle; provided however, the witness must sign an affidavit attesting to the truth of the facts of the accident contained in the affidavit;

(3) the insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle at the time of the accident. (emphasis added).

Some people will try and manipulate the system so there have to be checks and balances to ensure some validity to what is being offered. Otherwise in rural areas of South Carolina every accident “avoiding a deer” would be claimed as a hit and run. Too bad the deer don’t carry insurance or have assets.

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Why Is It Important to Report a Wreck to the Highway Patrol or Local Police?

First and foremost for accountability when it comes time to be reimbursed for your property damage or personal injuries.  Yes, this essentially equates to insurance purposes. The person that causes the collision may be apologetic and a “really nice person” at the scene but a couple days later have a change of heart and not be so forthcoming with their admission of liability.   Therefore the primary reason is to ensure that the at fault, or sole contributor, that admits to being inattentive or distracted is memorialized by the reporting South Carolina Highway Patrol or local authorities. The primary goal of any insurance company is to protect their insured and if their insured said it was not their fault, the property damage on your car or medical treatment you incurred is not going to be reimbursed anytime soon, if at all.

Secondly, if this is a serious offense and someone is driving on the roadways under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they need to be stopped! Hopefully, no one is seriously injured and by helping this person realize the gravity of their actions, you may save lives down the road.

Thirdly, you have no idea the true impact this collision will have on any property damage to your car or any personal injuries to your person. (no pun intended). Your adrenaline is pumping, so you feel no pain initially. Or the frame of your car is bent but you don’t realize that until you pull off and the vehicle drives crooked. Too late. You let that “nice person” go with a handshake and a smile. That’s okay, I am sure you have a couple thousand dollars lying around to repair your car and medical expenses.

A few tips if you are in an accident, from both a personal injury lawyer and person that has been in two accidents (neither of which were his fault):

  • Call 911 or *HP immediately, regardless of severity. If not life threatening tell the operator and explain the details. Those calls are recorded by the way;
  • Take pictures of the property damage with your fancy phone or at the very least make a mental note;
  • Make sure to get any contact information from any witnesses, especially if they do not have time to stick around for the reporting officer. They can still be helpful but not if you don’t know how to get in touch with them. It would be better if they could stick around and talk to the officer;
  • If the other party tries to leave the scenemake every effort to get their license tag, vehicle description and/or notify the 911 operator. License tags are usually only 6 characters. You can remember that;
  • If you feel any pain at all, notify the reporting officer and go get checked out when the ambulance, or EMS comes out. Otherwise, you know what the insurance company for the at fault driver will say?  “Obviously you were not hurt because you did not seek immediate medical attention.”
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