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ARCHIVES: November 2015

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Auto Accident Claims

When a traffic collision happens, filing an accident claim with an insurance company will typically be part of the recovery process. Although you may have had fair and easy dealings with your insurer at every point up until this time, when it comes time to file an auto accident claim, you may find that:

Mistakes to avoid when filing auto accident claims

  • The insurer is more difficult to deal with.
  • The insurer is not necessarily on your side or willing to honor the terms of the policy you have.
  • You face some challenges getting the payouts you may deserve.

To help position your claim for success, below are some of the more common mistakes to avoid making during the claims process.

When Filing an Auto Accident Claim…

  1. Do NOT put off filing the claim for too long after the crash – Your policy may have specific terms about claim filing deadlines following collisions, so do your best to report the crash as soon as reasonably possible after it occurs. Missing the reporting deadlines may complicate your claim.
  2. Do NOT forget to submit all of your evidence to the insurer – This can include the names/contact info for the other involved drivers, the names/contact info for any crash witnesses, any pictures of the accident you may have and/or any damage estimates you may have already received. Of course, keep copies of everything you submit; it can also be helpful to document when you submitted this information (in case your claim ends in a dispute with the insurer for any reason).
  3. Do NOT accept fault for the collision – And don’t try to assign blame for the accident either. Instead, simply report the facts of the crash. If you are asked to make a formal (recorded) statement to the company, don’t agree to do so until you are ready. This is because anything you say to insurers could be used later to try to reduce the value of your claim.
  4. Do NOT accept the first settlement offer made to you – In most cases, first offers are less than the value of a claim, as insurers may be hoping that claimants don’t know how much they are entitled to and/or won’t fight back to get the payout they deserve because they need the settlement ASAP. So, if you are made a settlement offer, consult a lawyer before accepting or denying the offer to see if you should hold out for more.
  5. Do NOT let a claim denial be the last word – If your claim has been denied, contact a lawyer ASAP and find out if filing an appeal may be the right move for you. There can be strict deadlines for filing appeals, and moving forward sooner (rather than later) can help you protect your interests and potential rights to compensation.

Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a traffic accident and/or have been fighting an insurer for a payout you may deserve, contact the Columbia SC personal injury lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

CO Poisonings Surge in the Winter, CDC Warns – Here’s How You Can Stay Safe

Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) causes at least 15,000 Americans to seek emergency medical treatment each year, as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted.

How to reduce your risks of CO poisoning this winter

While CO poisoning can happen anywhere and at any time, it is far more likely to occur in the months of December and January – the months when more people are using fuel-burning appliances at home to stay warm.

This fact has led the CDC to deem CO as the “winter killer.” And now officials are working to spread the word about what people can do to minimize their risks of CO poisoning this winter and beyond.

How to Reduce Your Risk of CO Poisoning: Tips from the CDC

If you live in a colder area and/or will be relying on fuel-burning appliances to stay warm this winter, here are some important tips to keep in mind in order to minimize the risk of CO poisoning:

  • Before running the heating systems in your home for the first time (before each winter season), call a qualified technician to check out these systems and ensure they are working properly.
  • Check the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide detectors. The CDC recommends getting in the habit of doing this check when adjusting your clocks for daylight-saving time. If you don’t have CO detectors at home, make it a priority to install some in each bedroom and on each level of your home this winter.
  • If you need to use a generator, a charcoal grill or any other oil- or gas-burning appliance, keep these appliances outside of your home, away from the home’s windows.
  • Don’t keep motor vehicles running in garages, regardless of whether the garage door may be open.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat a home, and don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented to the outside.
  • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning and seek immediate medical attention if you start experiencing them.

Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured by a defective or faulty product or on dangerous premises, contact the Columbia SC personal injury lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of lawyer by calling (800) 531-9780 or by emailing us via the contact form on this page. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

4 Facts to Know about Drunk Driving Accidents for Black Wednesday

Thanksgiving week is here. And, while some people will be spending tomorrow holed up in their kitchens preparing a big feast, many others will be spending the evening before Thanksgiving drinking alcohol and kicking off the celebration early.

Facts about drunk driving accidents

In fact, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest alcohol-drinking days of the year, leading some transportation safety officials to deem this day as “Black Wednesday.”

In light of tomorrow being Black Wednesday, below, we have pointed out some of the most important facts to know about drunk driving accidents.

The Tragic Facts about Drunk Driving Crashes

  1. About 2 in every 3 people will be in at least one drunk driving crash during their lifetime – This is a chilling fact about DUI collisions because it means that approximately 67 percent of Americans will either be a drunk driver who causes a crash or the victim of one of these accidents. What may be more unnerving than this is the fact that the average drunk driver has driven while impaired about 80 times prior to being arrested for DUI.
  2. Every 2 minutes in the U.S., someone is hurt in a drunk driving accident – And at least once every hour or so, someone is killed by a drunk driver. This means that, every day in the U.S., more than 740 people are hurt by an impaired motorist, and about 28 others are killed by negligent drunk drivers.
  3. Perception & judgment impairments can start affecting drivers after only one or two drinks – When discussing drunk driving accidents, it can be easy to assume that the impaired drivers were really drunk, having extremely high BACs. However, it is important for all motorists to understand that they can begin to experience significant perception and judgment impairments at BACs as low as 0.02. This means that it can only take a few drinks for motorists to be impaired and not fully capable of safely operating a vehicle. In others, buzzed driving is drunk driving.
  4. Drunk driving accidents are 100 percent preventable – This may be the one hopeful fact, as it underscores that education and enforcement may continue to deter drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. It also points to the fact that, when drunk driving accidents occur, the negligent motorists can be liable for compensating victims for their injuries and losses.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured by a drunk or negligent motorist, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for answers about your options for financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

Self-Driving Cars Are More Likely to Crash than Standard Vehicles, Study Reveals

Self-driving cars are about five times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than standard passenger vehicles, a study1 recently published by the University of Michigan has reported.

Self-driving cars are 5x more likely to crash, study finds

In fact, what these researchers specifically found was that:

  • While the collision rate for self-driving vehicles is about 9.1 (per every million miles traveled), standard passenger vehicles’ collision rate is about 1.9.
  • Self-driving vehicles are involved in rear-end collisions about 50 percent more often than standard passenger vehicles.
  • Occupants of self-driving cars are about 4 times more likely to be injured (than occupants of standards passenger vehicles) when collisions happen.

Self-Driving Cars May Still Be Safer than Passenger Vehicles, Researchers Explain

All of the above findings would seem to indicate that self-driving vehicles are unsafe or possibly even riskier than standard passenger vehicles. However, as researchers have noted, the above findings need to be considered in light of the following facts:

  • Self-driving cars have not been responsible for causing any of the accidents they have been involved in – In every accident involving an autonomous driving car, the collision was caused by the driver of another vehicle.
  • When the occupants of self-driving cars are injured, these injuries are no more serious than the injuries sustained by those in other passenger vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Self-driving vehicles have not been in any fatal crashes to date. In other words, these vehicles have a zero percent fatality rate.
  • Data comparisons between self-driving cars and standard passenger vehicles may be inherently flawed, as standard passenger vehicles are driven about 3 trillion miles each year in the U.S. while self-driving vehicles have only accumulated about 1.2 million miles of driving time over their entire existence.

With all of these caveats, researchers ultimately concluded in their study that, “We currently cannot rule out, with a reasonable level of confidence, the possibility that the actual [crash] rate for self-driving vehicles is lower than [the crash rate] for conventional vehicles.”

Would you feel safe riding in a self-driving car? Tell us your opinions on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a traffic accident that may have been caused by a negligent driver , contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Let our Columbia SC attorneys put their experience, diligence and skills to work helping you. Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

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1: A Preliminary Analysis of Real-World Crashes Involving Self-Driving Vehicles

5 Most Dangerous Products for People over 60

As we age, our balance, coordination, strength and vision can start to deteriorate. This can make it far more likely that elderly people will fall down – and will sustain serious injuries from these falling accidents. What can be just as distressing as this may be the facts that:

  • Many harmful falls happen in elderly people’s homes.
  • Some everyday products can increase the risk that elderly individuals will fall and get hurt at home.

Looking to pinpoint these risky products, researchers at Health Grove analyzed about 17 years of data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to rank the most dangerous products for the elderly. Below is a snapshot of their findings.

These Products Present the Biggest Risks to Elderly Individuals

  1. Most dangerous products for elderly people

    Flooring materials, such as carpets, rugs and broken tiles – Annually, more than 385,000 elderly Americans are hurt as a result of accidents caused by flooring materials. Slips, trips and falls are the biggest risk associated with these items.

  2. Stairs – Each year in the U.S., more than 187,100 elderly individuals are hurt in stair-related accidents, with falls down the stairs being the single biggest cause of injury.
  3. Beds – Annually, nearly 100,000 elderly Americans are hurt getting into or out of bed. Falling in/out of bed becomes an increasingly significant concern as leg strength decreases and coordination/balancing is more challenging for aging people.
  4. Chairs and couches, including rocking/folding chairs, stools and recliners – Each year, just over 81,000 elderly Americans are hurt in accidents involving a fall or tumble out of a chair or couch.
  5. Furniture, such as desks, tables and dressers (but not including beds or chairs) – Annually, more than 67,100 elderly Americans are injured in furniture-related accidents. While these accidents can involve furniture collapses or furniture falling on elderly individuals, they can also include elderly individuals walking into furniture.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risks associated with These Products

Given that the above products can be essential features of homes, here are a handful of things that can be done to reduce the risk* that any of these items will cause an accident or injury to an elderly loved one:

  1. Make sure your elderly loved one is using an up-to-date eyeglasses prescription.
  2. Make sure your elderly loved one is wearing shoes that fit.
  3. Get these loved ones mobility and/or walking aides.
  4. Check the medications your elderly loved one is taking to see if potential complications can include balance or vision issues.
  5. Keep halls and walkways in and around homes clear, free of hazards that could cause falls.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for answers about your options for financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

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*According to CSPC

Debunking 4 Myths about South Carolina Workers Compensation Claims

Suffering a work injury or developing an occupational illness can be physically, emotionally and financially catastrophic to workers, especially if they are the primary breadwinners for their families and/or the health complication has irreversible impacts.

Don’t believe these myths about South Carolina workers’ comp claims, our Columbia SC injury attorneys explain. Here’s why. Contact us for help getting benefits after a work accident.

While the South Carolina workers’ compensation system is available to help injured workers during such difficult times, the myths about workers’ options and responsibilities during the claims process can be as misleading as they may be costly.

That is why, below, we have presented the facts workers should rely on, rather than relying on the myths, when they are serious about protecting their interests and obtaining the full amount of benefits they may deserve after a work accident.

The Facts about South Carolina Workers Compensation Claims

Myth 1: I have plenty of time to report my work injuries to my employer.

Fact: Not true! South Carolina law sets the deadline for reporting work injuries to employers to be 90 days. This means that, if workers fail to inform their employers of the accident and injury within this 90-day window, they could lose out on some of their benefits.

Myth 2: If my employer doesn’t file a workers’ compensation claim for me, I’m out of luck and cannot get benefits.

Fact: Wrong! If you report your work injury to your employer and the employer fails to take action to file a claim with its insurer (because the employer forgets to or is outright denying that you were injured at work or in a work accident), you will not be out of luck when it comes to benefits. This is because you CAN take the initiative to file your claim even if your employer refuses to.

In these situations, injured workers will typically have to complete and submit a Form 50 or 52 to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commissions (WCC).

Myth 3: I can go to any doctor I want for the treatment of my work injuries, and the insurer will cover it.

Fact: Wrong again! In South Carolina, if you are injured at work and want your medical treatments to be covered by insurance, you are required to see a doctor selected by your employer or its insurance provider. If you go to your own doctor who was not an option provided by an employer/insurer, you can generally expect to have to pay for these treatments.

Myth 4: I can count on the insurance company and my doctor to make the right calls regarding my injury and workers’ compensation claim.

Fact: Unfortunately, this is not usually true because:

  • Insurance companies are not generally on injured workers’ sides; instead, insurers are typically focused on protecting their clients (i.e., the employer) and their profits (which usually means limiting claim payouts whenever possible).
  • Doctors can have relationships with insurance companies, making them inclined to issue decisions (such as those regarding when workers can go back to work) in favor of insurers. Additionally, doctors can make mistakes, make wrong calls about patient’s progress, etc.

All of this boils down to the fact that it’s usually in injured workers best interests to retain a lawyer who WILL be on their side to:

  • Look out for them
  • Stand up to insurers or doctors who make the wrong calls
  • Fight in order to help injured workers secure the maximum benefits to which they may be entitled.

Contact a Columbia SC Injury Attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured at work, contact the Columbia SC injury attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

3 Ways Trucking Companies Can Be Liable for Truck Accidents

When commercial truck accidents happen, figuring out if any of the involved motorists was responsible for the crash can be one of the first steps to take as victims focus on recovering. While one or more drivers may be at fault for a given truck accident, it’s also crucial to consider whether the trucking company may be liable as well, as this can help victims determine:

  • The potential value of their claim or case
  • The next best steps take as they move forward.

To provide some examples of how and when fault for truck accidents can extend to parties beyond the involved motorists, below are some of the more common ways in which trucking companies can be (and often are) liable for truck accidents.

How Trucking Companies Can Contribute to Truck Crashes

Here are some common examples of how trucking companies may contribute to truck accidents and, consequently, be liable for compensating victims, a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer explains.

Generally, trucking companies can be held liable for playing a role in causing truck accidents if or when it can be proven that they:

  1. Failed to properly screen drivers in the hiring process – Federal regulations require trucking companies to conduct background checks and drug tests on drivers during the hiring process. The reason for this is that this due diligence can help identify drivers who may have a history of reckless or impaired driving. So, if either or both of these steps are not taken and unscreened drivers are hired and end up causing crashes later, the trucking company that put a potentially dangerous driver on the road can be held liable.
  2. Failed to properly maintain trucks – The care that trucking companies are required to put into their driver screening and hiring efforts should also be extended to their fleet of vehicles, according to federal trucking regulations, as companies are required to regularly inspect and properly maintain their trucks. If they fail to do this and one of their trucks end up experiencing an equipment failure that causes an accident later, again, the trucking company can be responsible for compensating victims for their losses and damages.
  3. Failed to ensure drivers comply with trucking regulations – Drivers for a trucking company are required, themselves, to abide by federal trucking regulations, only some of which include hours-of-service rules, truck inspection/maintenance rules, cargo loading & weight regulations, etc. If trucking companies fail to ensure that their drivers are in compliance – or they fail to take action against drivers who are clearly not in compliance, again, the trucking company can be held liable if that noncompliant driver ends up getting into a truck crash.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a truck accident – or in any type of traffic collision, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for effective legal advocacy in your journey to financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

Takata Hit with $200 Million NHTSA Fine over Defective Airbag Crisis, Violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Transportation safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have just issued Takata two federal orders related to the ongoing Takata airbag recall, the NHTSA announced yesterday. These orders are remarkable in that they:

  • The NHTSA has issued Takata the largest civil penalty in the agency’s history, a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer explains. Here’s why and what this means for Takata moving forward.

    Impose the single largest civil fine the NHTSA has ever issued in its nearly 50-year history – This massive $200 million fine Takata has been hit with includes a $70 million cash penalty that is due immediately, as well as an additional $130 million fine that will become due if the company “fails to meet its commitments” or if it commits any new violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

  • Mark the first time the NHTSA is invoking its authority to accelerate the rollout of recall remedies – This authority, which the NHTSA was granted in 2000, allows regulators to speed up recall repairs “if manufacturers’ remedy plans are likely to put Americans at risk,” as the NHTSA has pointed out. The decision to invoke this power came out of the findings from regulators’ investigations and review of public comments, which indicated that the use of this authority may be necessary to getting the 23 million or so defective inflators out of circulation ASAP.

Commenting on the NHTSA’s recent actions against Takata, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained that:

For years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public… The result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history. Today’s actions represent aggressive use of NHTSA’s authority to clean up these problems and protect public safety.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind backed up these statements, noting that:

Today, we are holding Takata responsible for its failures, and we are taking strong action to protect the traveling public… We are accelerating Takata recalls to get safe air bags into American vehicles more quickly, ensuring that consumers at the greatest risk are protected, and addressing the long-term risk of Takata’s use of a suspect propellant.

A Closer Look at the NHTSA Orders Issued to Takata

As part of the two federal orders the NHTSA has issued Takata, the company has agreed to pay the fines and has admitted to:

  • Being aware of the defect associated with its airbags
  • Providing regulators and consumers with “selective, incomplete or inaccurate data” regarding its airbags
  • Failing to issue a “timely recall” for its defective airbags.

As part of the process of getting back into compliance, Takata will now have to do the following (among other things):

  • Submit to “unprecedented oversight” for the next five years
  • Allow the NHTSA to select an independent monitor to track the company’s progress and report on its compliance
  • Phase out the manufacturing and sales of inflators that contain “phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant,” unless Takata can “prove they are safe or can show it has determined why its inflators are prone to rupture”
  • Prioritize the Takata airbag recall according to risk and establish “a schedule by which they must have sufficient parts on hand to remedy the defects for all affected vehicles.”

What do you think about this latest development in the Takata airbag recall? Share your comments with us on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured by faulty vehicle equipment or any defective product, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your options financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

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