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ARCHIVES: March 2016

Fatal Pedestrian Accidents in the US Hit Record-Breaking High in 2015, Federal Data Reveal

 

For the first time in about four decades, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have hit a record high, surging more than 10 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

This reportedly reflects the largest annual increase in pedestrian deaths in the U.S. since this data was first recorded (in 1975), officials have revealed, generating a new wave of public safety concerns.

A Closer Look at the Findings

The details of the GHSA’s findings on pedestrian deaths have been published in a report entitled, Spotlight on Highway Safety2. Taking a closer look at the findings reveals that, in 2015:

  • Pedestrian deaths represented about 15 percent of the total traffic-related fatalities. Since 2005, this percentage has increased about 4 percent.
  • More than 40 percent of the pedestrian fatalities recorded in 2015 came from one of the following four states: New York, California, Texas or Florida.
  • When analyzing the incidence of fatal pedestrian accidents per population, the states with the highest rates of pedestrian deaths included Florida, Delaware and Arizona.
  • Only Wyoming, Maine, and Utah saw no increase (or decrease) in the rate of pedestrian fatalities.

Officials Attempt to Explain the Surge

Although officials are still analyzing the traffic data from 2015, they have issued some preliminary explanations as to why 2015 saw such a dramatic spike in pedestrian deaths (when compared to previous years). Some of these explanations have included that, in 2015:

  • There was a remarkable increase in miles driven – In fact, American motorists drove more than 3 trillion miles on U.S. roads in 2015 (marking a substantial increase from miles driven in 2014). Likely explanations for this phenomenon, according to researchers, are the decreases in fuel prices and the continuing decline in the unemployment rate.
  • There was a significant increase in the number of pedestrians sharing the roads with motorists – While the surge in pedestrians/the walking has been tied to economic and environmental reasons, it has also been linked to health reasons.
  • There was a spike in the use of cellphones among pedestrians – In other words, distractions among pedestrians seems to be a significant contributing factor to the rise in pedestrian fatalities last year.

Commenting on this report’s findings and potential impacts, Report Co-author Richard Retting has stated:

We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore we are quite alarmed…Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country. It is important to understand the data underlying these crashes so states and localities can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend.

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

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident or any type of traffic crash, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as 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.

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1: Full report available here

99% of US Auto Makers Agree to Make Automatic Emergency Braking Standard on New Vehicles, NHTSA Reports

 

Nearly all of the carmakers comprising the U.S. auto market have agreed to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems as

standard features “on virtually all new cars” by September 2022, according to a recent announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This historic agreement, which includes 20 major auto manufacturers, reflects what the NHTSA is calling an “unprecedented commitment” to deliver vital safety technology to far more U.S. motorists in a more efficient manner than “would be possible through the regulatory process.” In fact, regulators have noted that, if developing an AEB mandate was to come from the formal NHTSA regulatory process (rather than a voluntary agreement):

  • The compliance process could take at least three years longer to achieve the same results.
  • Over those three years, the new agreement will effectively prevent at least 28,000 motor vehicle accidents (and the approximately 12,000 or so injuries resulting from them).1

Background on AEBs

Representing a remarkable advance in vehicle safety technology, automatic emergency braking systems can detect an impending front-impact crash, alert drivers to the risk, and, if drivers do not respond appropriately, take action to try to avoid or mitigate the impact.

Currently, AEB systems come in two forms:

  • Dynamic brake support (DBS), which supplements drivers’ braking efforts when they aren’t sufficient to stop the vehicle and avoid a crash
  • Crash imminent braking (CIB), which automatically applies the brakes when the system detects that drivers are not responding to the imminent risk of a crash.

Given that about 33 percent of all motor vehicle crashes that are reported to police involve rear-end collisions, AEBs have a significant potential to reduce the incidence of (and/or damaged caused by) one of most common types of traffic accidents.

Reactions to Historic AEB System Agreement

Regulators, industry leaders and safety advocates have all expressed support for the AEB agreement.

Elucidating the potential impacts of this agreement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated:

It’s an exciting time for vehicle safety. By proactively making emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent thousands of crashes and save lives… It’s a win for safety and a win for consumers.

Similarly, IIHS Board Chairman Jack Salzwedel has stated:

IIHS member companies strongly support the adoption of effective safety technologies…Deploying AEB on a wide scale will allow us to further evaluate the technology’s effectiveness and its impact on insurance losses, so that more insurers can explore offering discounts or lower premiums to consumers who choose AEB-equipped vehicles.

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, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as 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.

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1: According to estimates from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer: 7 Things You Need to Know

The $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of the family of an ovarian cancer victim has raised numerous questions pertaining to the connection of the disease and exposure to talcum powder. Here are the answers to the seven most common questions we are receiving from clients.

  1. “How long has talcum powder been linked to ovarian cancer?”

Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer

Scientists have suspected since the 1960s that some cases of ovarian cancer have been caused by environmental exposure. This was due, in large part, to instances of ovarian cancer being two to three times more common in the industrialized world compared to developing nations.

Initially, the primary contaminant considered by researchers was asbestos. Asbestosis and mesothelioma were bursting onto the scene of the oncological community in the 50s and 60s and were thus garnering much attention. As a result, a British team at the Welsh National School of Medicine searched for asbestos crystals when it used a new microscopic examination technique to examine tissue samples of ovarian and cervical tumors in 1971. To the team’s surprise, however, no asbestos was found. But, in 75% of the tumors, particles of talc were identified. The British team recognized that “it is impossible to incriminate talc as a primary cause [of cancer] on the preliminary observations described here, … [but] further investigations are obviously required.”

The discovery of talc during the search for asbestos was not coincidental. As a paper from the National Institutes of Health observed in 1979, “mineral talc is closely related to asbestos, and the two substances are often found together in mineral deposits.” In fact, prior to 1976, asbestos could be found in talc products sold to the public. Only in that year did the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA) revise its guidelines for talc to recommend that no sample containing asbestos reach the market.

But the medical community continued to study talc’s possible connection to ovarian cancer. In 1979, the National Cancer Institute observed that “the risk of cosmetic talc has not been fully evaluated.” Citing the previous studies referenced in this article, the NCI argued “various lines of evidence make it difficult to absolve cosmetic talc as a possible carcinogen, co-carcinogen, or promoter of malignant transformation.”

The Harvard Medical School set out to answer the question in the mid-1980s. From July 1984 to September 1987, Harvard researchers conducted a controlled study of 235 women between 18-76 years of age diagnosed with borderline or malignant epithelial ovarian cancer. 114 (48.5%) of the women were found to have been exposed to talcum powder in there perineal region. This was a rate of exposure significantly higher than that of the non-cancer control group (39.3%). The study observed that exposure to talc did not appear to be the primary cause of ovarian cancer, but that “the proportion of ovarian cancer incidence attributable to this level of talc exposure is about 10%.” “Nevertheless,” Harvard emphasized, “given the poor prognosis for ovarian cancer, any potentially harmful exposures should be avoided, particularly those with limited benefits. For this reason, we discourage the use of talc in genital hygiene, particularly as a daily habit.”

The Harvard study was published in 1989—seventeen years prior to the $72 million Johnson & Johnson verdict.

  1. “What do today’s studies show?”

Scientists throughout the world have continued to study the connection of talc to ovarian cancer. In 2000, the journal Epidemiology published an article that compiled results from 12 epidemiological studies of the question at that point. Of the 12, ten studies “reported at least some elevation in cancer risk among women.”

In 2013, twenty-four doctors and researchers from a variety of centers such as Harvard, Duke, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the University of Pittsburg collaborated on a major pooling of all known studies, resulting in an analysis of over 18,000 individuals with and without ovarian cancer. The results of this study found a 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer with genital-powder use. The study went on to suggest that “since there are few modifiable risk factors for ovarian cancer, avoidance of genital powders may be a possible strategy to reduce ovarian cancer incidence.”

The latest analysis was published in May of 2015. The author, an epidemiologist from the University of Texas, concluded that “talc use increased ovarian cancer risk by 30–60% in almost all well‐designed studies. The Attributable Risk was 29%, meaning that elimination of talc use could protect more than one quarter or more of women who develop ovarian cancer.”

  1. “What type of talcum powder use is associated with higher risks of ovarian cancer?”

The greatest risk of ovarian cancer arises from the direct application of talcum powder products to the exterior of the female genitalia. Use of such powder on other areas of the body has not been connected with an increase in risk of ovarian cancer.

  1. “How do the talc particles reach the ovaries?”

Somewhat surprisingly, scientific studies have shown us that otherwise immobile particles can move from the vagina to the fallopian tubes within 30 to 35 minutes. Post-surgical analyses of cancerous ovarian tumors have shown the presence of talc in the tissue, sometimes even years after a hysterectomy or tubal ligation has made that journey impossible. As a result, scientists believe that the talc has the ability to transport to the ovaries relatively quickly, while a long period of latency between the talc use and the development of cancer may result.

  1. “How is it possible to prove that talc caused ovarian cancer?”

As noted above, talc particles can be identified in ovarian tissue with the use of a microscope. After an oophorectomy or full hysterectomy, ovarian tissue is generally preserved by healthcare providers for ten years. Analyzing that tissue for the presence of talc particles establishes what lawyers refer to as “the causal chain.”

  1. “Is smoking or drinking associated with ovarian cancer?”

No. Exposure to cigarettes or alcohol has not been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

  1. “How can I find out if exposure to talcum powder caused my ovarian cancer?”

Our law firm is investigating many cases of ovarian cancer and their possible relationship to talcum powder products. If you would like to speak to us about your personal history, please call a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 1 (800) 531-9780 or email us.

Top 3 Causes of Car Accidents in South Carolina

Top 3 Causes of Car Accidents in South Carolina

A traffic crash occurs about every 10 seconds on a U.S. roadway.1 While any number of factors can contribute to an auto wreck, research indicates that the following are the leading causes of traffic collisions in both South Carolina and across the nation:

  1. Drivers – Federal transportation safety authorities have reported2 that at least 94 percent of all traffic crashes that take place in the U.S. each year are caused by some type of human error – and that, oftentimes, these crash-causing errors are committed by drivers. Some of the most common forms of driver negligence that play a role in causing traffic crashes include:
    • Impaired driving – With a BAC of 0.08 (i.e., the legal limit across the U.S.), motorists are at least four times more likely to be involved in a crash. This elevated risk is usually the result of the impaired perception, coordination problems and delayed reaction times all caused by alcohol impairment.
    • Distracted driving – Motorists who fail to focus on the road tend to exhibit the same impairments as drunk drivers. In fact, some studies have indicated that distracted drivers are about 6 times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than impaired drivers.
    • Aggressive or reckless driving – This refers to any failure to abide by traffic laws. Although research has yet to quantify the degree to which noncompliance with traffic laws can increase motorists’ crash risk, it should not be a big surprise to drivers that failing to follow traffic laws can put them (and those around them on the roads) at risk of a serious auto accident.
    • Drowsy driving – Usually more problematic among commercial motorists (like truckers), drowsy driving can cause similar impairments to drunk or distracted driving. In fact, some research has revealed that drivers who get behind the wheel after 24 hours of no sleep (i.e., 24 consecutive hours awake) tend to display impairments similar to motorists who have BACs of about 0.10 (well over the legal limit).
  2. Vehicle-related issues – Another factor that commonly contributes to traffic crashes (both in South Carolina and throughout the U.S.) is vehicle equipment defects, which can impact motorists’ abilities to safely control cars. When such defects impact vital vehicle features – like the brakes, ignition system and/or tires, the risk of a crash can skyrocket.
  3. Road conditions – Not necessarily a primary cause of traffic collisions, poor roadway conditions can significantly increase motorists crash risk, especially if or when drivers are less than sober, alert or compliant with traffic laws. Common examples of poor road conditions include (and are not limited to):
    • A lack of traffic signs and/or lane dividers
    • Broken traffic signals
    • Objects or debris being left in the road.

Hurt in a Car Crash? Contact the Columbia SC Injury Attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in any type of traffic accident, contact the Columbia SC injury attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your recovery options, as well as 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.

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1: All data reported herein is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

2: As the NHTSA reported in February 2016

How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?

Factors that can impact the value of a car accident case

The value of a car accident case will hinge on a number of different factors, which an experienced attorney can identify and analyze to evaluate the worth of a specific car accident case.

While every car accident case is different – and while the specifics of a given case will be pivotal in determining its value, in general, the following are some of the primary factors to consider when trying to assess the value of a car accident case:

  • The types of injuries sustained – Generally, when car accidents result in more severe injuries, victims can require intensive emergency treatments and/or longer-term medical care. In these cases, car accident settlements can include damages for all past and future medical needs related to the crash injuries. And this typically means that more serious injuries can increase the amount of damages in these cases (due to the fact that more expensive medical treatments are required for recovery).
  • The level of property damage incurred – Another aspect of car accident settlements can include the property damage caused by a crash, including the vehicle-related damage. If the damage is more extensive and/or the vehicle is totaled, this aspect of car accident awards can also be higher (than if less property damage occurred).
  • The negligent party & the nature of the negligence – Whether the liable party is a commercial driver is another element that can impact the value of car accident claims. That’s because, if commercial drivers’ negligence contributes to a crash – and this driver and/or his employer has a history of similar negligence, punitive damages may be available, again, potentially increasing the value of a car accident case.

The Value of Car Accident Cases: More Important Information

  • How soon you file your case may impact its value – And this is generally due to the fact that, when victims wait longer to proceed with car accident cases, it’s far more likely that evidence to support their claim will get lost or become unavailable.For instance, accident witnesses’ memories can fade, witnesses may move or change their phone numbers, pictures of the wreck may get damaged or lost, etc. So, the bottom line here is that it’s generally best for crash victims to move forward with their case sooner, rather than later, if they are serious about their financial recovery.
  • You cannot necessarily trust insurance companies to be honest about the value of your case – And this is because insurance companies will usually be focused on protecting their interests and profits, rather than victims’ rights to financial recovery. So, the bottom line here is that it’s best to retain an experienced car accident attorney to ensure your rights, interests and claim for compensation is protected throughout the recovery process.

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

If you have been injured in any type of traffic accident, contact a Columbia SC injury attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward. Since 1993, our lawyers have been committed to protecting the rights of injured people and helping them succeed in their 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.

TBI Infographic Reveals the Prevalence, Causes & Effects of TBIs in the U.S.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause physical and cognitive impairments that may impact people for years, if not for the rest of their lives.

What can be just as tragic as the impacts of TBIs, however, is that fact that, in many cases, TBIs are the result of preventable accidents and negligence.

To elucidate the prevalence, causes and effects of TBIs for National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, below is an infographic revealing some of the latest facts and findings about TBIs.

TBI Infographic, Chappell Smith Arden

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

If you or a loved one has sustained a TBI in a traffic collision or another type of accident, contact a Columbia SC injury attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as 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.

5 Essential Pedestrian Accident Facts to Know for Spring

Important facts about pedestrian accidents for spring

Spring is just around the corner. And in terms of traffic trends, that means that, as the weather warms up, far more pedestrians will soon be sharing the roads with vehicles. Given that pedestrians are about 1.5 times more likely than people in passenger vehicles to die in a traffic crash any time they hit the road, below are some of the most important facts for any motorist or pedestrian to be aware of.

Understanding these facts about pedestrian accidents can be the key to making safe, smart choices whenever sharing the roads with vehicles and/or other pedestrians.

Pedestrian Accidents in the U.S.: The Facts

  1. Someone in the U.S. is hurt in a pedestrian accident every 8 minutes – And these pedestrian accidents have fatal outcomes every 2 hours or so. In fact, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA)1 has reported, more than 4,700 people in the U.S. are killed in pedestrian accidents each year. Although deaths from these accidents have slightly declined in recent years, thousands of deadly pedestrian accidents are still occurring in the U.S. year in and year out.
  2. Children and elderly adults have the highest risk of being hurt (or killed) in pedestrian accidents – About 20 percent of the children (i.e., those younger than 14) killed in fatal traffic crashes each year in the U.S. are killed in a pedestrian accident. Additionally, federal data indicates that, in about 20 percent of all deadly pedestrian accidents and in roughly 10 percent of all non-fatal pedestrian accidents, elderly people (i.e., those who are 65 and older) are the victims. The real takeaway here may be that, in nearly half of all pedestrian accidents, the victims are among the most vulnerable people.
  3. Alcohol impairment often contributes to pedestrian accidents – Close to half of all fatal pedestrian accidents in the U.S. involve motorists and/or pedestrians with blood alcohol contents (BACs) of at least 0.08 (i.e., the legal limit for intoxication throughout the U.S.). In fact, while about 15 percent of these accidents reportedly involve driver intoxication, nearly 35 percent involve pedestrian impairment.
  4. About 20 percent of pedestrian accidents involve hit-and-runs – And this seems to reveal that, in many pedestrian accidents, driver negligence is a factor. In fact, as some research has indicated, drivers who flee accident scenes tend to do so out of panic and because they believe that the consequences of staying are far more serious (than risking fleeing and getting caught).
  5. Pedestrian accidents are preventable – And this may be the most important takeaway for motorists and pedestrians, as it reveals that:
    • There are various things that pedestrians and motorists can do to minimize their risk of being involved in pedestrian accidents – While this generally includes being sober and alert when hitting the roads, it also involves complying with traffic laws and being ready for others not to.
    • When preventable negligence does contribute to pedestrian accidents, victims will have options for justice and recovery.

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

If you or someone you love has been injured in any type of traffic crash – or if you have lost a loved one to any type of fatal traffic accident, 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.

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.

____________________________________________________

1: All data in this blog is from the NHTSA.

South Carolina Employers Fined More than $350k in 2015 for ‘Serious Violations,’ OSHA Reports

Hefty penalties OSHA issued to SC employers in 2015 for serious safety violations

Last year, regulators at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued multiple South Carolina employers expensive fines for their serious violations of federal safety rules.

Serious violations include any failure to abide by federal workplace safety standards that disregards workers’ health and safety. While the minimum OSHA fines for serious violations is $5,000 (per violation), the maximum penalties can be as much as $70,000 (per violation).

According to OSHA, these fines totaled $355,100, which was divided between these employers as follows:

  1. S. Utilities, Inc., which was fined $68,600 in May 2015 for reportedly exposing workers to fall hazards and failing to comply with excavation safety requirements.
  2. Detyens Shipyards, Inc., which was issued a $101,600 OSHA fine in May 2015 for reportedly failing to meet various standards associated with construction sites and powered industrial vehicles.
  3. Wix Filtration Corp, LLC, which was fined $51,750 in August 2015 for reportedly failing to provide the proper safeguards for workers using hand-powered tools, as well as “mechanical transmission apparatuses.”
  4. S. Postal Service, which was issued a $79,900 fine in September 2015 for reportedly violating the OSH Act (general duty paragraph) and exposing workers to floor/falling hazards.
  5. Palmetto State Armory, LLC, which was fined $53,250 in September 2015 for reportedly failing to provide workers with respiratory protections and exposing them to potentially hazardous lead particles.

As OSHA has indicated, the cases against Palmetto State Armory and Wix Filtration Corp have yet to be closed.

States with the Most Violators in 2015

The OSHA fines issued to South Carolina employers last year were certainly hefty – and they do clearly send a message that regulators will penalize non-compliant employers who put American workers at risk of accidents and injuries.

Interestingly, however, South Carolina was among the states receiving the least OSHA penalties last year. In contrast, some of the states that received the heftiest OSHA penalties in 2015 included (but are not limited to):

  • California, where more than 80 OSHA cases were opened up in 2015
  • Florida, which saw more than 40 OSHA investigations last year
  • Georgia, where more than 43 OSHA cases were opened up in 2015
  • New Jersey, which saw more than 50 OSHA investigations last year
  • New York, where nearly 40 OSHA investigations were conducted in 2015
  • Ohio, which saw more than 70 OSHA investigations last year
  • Texas, where nearly 60 OSHA cases were conducted in 2015.

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

If you have been injured in at work, contact the Columbia SC injury attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as 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.

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