Statistics show that nearly every driver will be involved in a car accident in their lifetime. The insurance industry estimates that drivers file a collision claim once every 18 years. Fortunately, most of these claims will involve drivers and passengers who walk away from the scene of their accident unscathed and unharmed. Unfortunately, some folks aren’t so lucky. An estimated 1.3 traffic deaths occur for every 100 million miles traveled, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
More than 38,000 people die every year on U.S. roads. For reference, that’s about the population of Florence or Spartanburg—killed each year in deadly traffic accidents.
Here are a few more South Carolina auto accident statistics to help shed light on just how big of a problem car crashes are in the state:
- A traffic crash occurs in South Carolina every 4.5 minutes.
- Every 15.4 minutes, someone in South Carolina is hurt in a car accident.
- Every 11.6 hours, someone in South Carolina is killed in a deadly auto wreck.
- Since 2013, both injury- and fatality-related auto crashes in South Carolina have risen. Injury crashes in the state have increased by more than 4 percent, and traffic fatalities have surged by more than 7 percent.
- Annually, auto accidents in South Carolina end up costing approximately $3 billion when considering the costs of property damage, medical treatments and lost productivity. (Of course, these costs fail to account for the intangible, yet profound, costs related to the suffering that victims endure as result of serious car wrecks.)
The extent of injuries and property damage sustained in a car wreck can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type of car accident that occurred and what caused it. Although no 2 crashes are exactly the same, certain scenarios occur more frequently than others.
Common Types of Car Accidents
Some of the common types of car accidents seen on roadways in South Carolina and nationwide include:
When 2 motor vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide at high speeds, the crash often results in catastrophic injuries. Head-on car accidents are particularly devastating and deadly. Only a small fraction (2 percent) of crashes are reported as head-on collisions, yet they account for well over 10 percent of traffic fatalities. Determining who is at fault in a head-on crash is crucial in order for accident victims to recover damages.
When a motor vehicle strikes another car, private property or a pedestrian and flees the scene before emergency personnel and first responders can arrive, this is considered a hit-and-run. Not only does a driver face stiff legal penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, but their irresponsible and heartless decision can have dire consequences for injured bystanders in need of medical attention.
When more than 2 vehicles are involved in a car accident, this is often referred to as a pileup or chain-reaction crash. Multi-vehicle accidents can occur simultaneously or result in reaction to an initial, primary car accident—such as when 2 cars collide and a 3rd vehicle is unable to swerve out of the way. Such crashes commonly occur at intersections or on interstates where vehicles are moving at high rates of speed
Frequently resulting in head and neck injuries—including whiplash—rear-end collisions or “fender benders” occur whenever a motor vehicle is struck from behind. The driver of the striking car is almost always legally responsible for a rear-end collision, unless the collision was caused by an automobile that was moving in reverse or the lead vehicle didn’t have working tail lights.
Occurring primarily when a driver attempts to navigate a sharp turn at a high rate of speed or avoid an obstacle in the road, rollover accidents involve a vehicle that has turned onto its roof or side. Drivers of large trucks or sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are at an increased risk of suffering a rollover accident due to their higher center of gravity, though any vehicle can roll over in the right circumstances.
With the rise of ridesharing services and apps like Uber and Lyft, there has also been a corresponding increase in car accidents involving Uber/Lyft drivers. Liability and compensation can be particularly challenging in such cases since injured plaintiffs must not only deal with the driver’s insurance company but also the rideshare company and their insurance.
All motorists in South Carolina are required to have car insurance, yet as we know, not everyone obeys this law. It’s estimated that more than 1 in 10 drivers in the state are uninsured. Many more may be underinsured in the event of a serious or catastrophic accident. If you’re hurt by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may be able to get compensation through other means with help from an attorney.
Emergency vehicle accidents
First responders and emergency vehicles (such as ambulances, fire trucks and police cars) often need to get places in a hurry. If you or a loved one was injured after colliding with one of these vehicles, it’s important to reach out to a knowledgeable attorney since such cases often require unique knowledge in pursuing compensation from a government agency or private commercial business.
Not all car accidents involve multiple parties. Sometimes, a single driver hits a stationary object such as a guard rail or pole. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), single-vehicle crashes account for over 50 percent of all accidents. Many victims of single-vehicle accidents make the mistake of believing that no one but themselves is to blame, but this may not be the case.
A sideswipe accident is when 2 vehicles traveling in the same direction make contact. This type of crash often occurs when 1 driver changes lanes and doesn’t see the driver next to them in their blind spot, or when 1 driver accidentally merges into another. Sideswipe crashes account for more than 2,500 fatalities and 27,000 injuries each year, according to the IIHS.
Side impact (T-bone) crashes
Side impact, broadside or T-bone car accidents are possibly the most deadly type of wreck, even worse than head-on collisions. They account for anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of all accidents, according to various estimates, and nearly 8,000 people are killed in side-impact crashes each year. In fact, experts believe that more than half of all crash fatalities involve a T-bone or broadside collision.
Blind spot accidents
There are approximately 840,000 blind spot crashes each year in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Around 300 people are killed on an annual basis, though this number undoubtedly underrepresents the problem since these statistics are difficult to track. Blind spot accidents can involve sideswipe, rear-end and side-impact collisions.
Intersections are by far the most common place where car accidents occur. Each year, as many as 2.5 million crashes happen at intersections throughout the country, according to the NHTSA. Half of all serious collisions reportedly occur at intersections, and intersection crashes account for up to 20 percent of fatalities. These crashes can be caused by red-light runners, left-turn impacts, merging crashes and a failure to yield.
Highway construction accidents
Construction projects on roads, highways and interstates can cause dangerous traffic slowdowns and stopped traffic. In some cases, unclear signage can confuse drivers. When a crash occurs in a construction zone, it’s worth investigating whether the construction company or government agency in charge of the project holds any liability for the accident.
South Carolina is crisscrossed by several major interstates—including I-95, I-26, I-77 and I-20. Accidents that happen on interstates are particularly serious due to the high rate of speed vehicles are traveling, which often result in multi-vehicle accidents and fatalities. Determining who was liable for an interstate accident often requires help from an expert accident reconstructionist and an experienced attorney.
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
The NHTSA has reported that South Carolina has among the highest bicycle and pedestrian crash rates in the country—1.5 times the national average. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in the U.S. in 2017, which is about 1 death every 88 minutes. When collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists occur, the injuries are often catastrophic, and legal representation is key to securing maximum compensation.
South Carolina also has one of the highest rates of fatal wrecks in the country. In addition to car accident fatalities, large trucks account for about 4 percent of registered vehicles on the road, but they are responsible for approximately 9 percent of all traffic fatalities. If your loved one was killed in a fatal crash, you may be able to recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses and pain and suffering.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
We’ve successfully resolved countless car accident cases caused by many different factors. Some of the common causes include:
Drivers who fail to exercise reasonable caution while operating a motor vehicle can cause serious harm to themselves and others. Negligent or reckless actions include tailgating, unsafe lane changes, speeding, running a red light or failure to yield, distracted driving, drowsy driving, drunk driving and operating a motor vehicle that the driver knows is unsafe.
South Carolina has a serious drunk driving problem. Even though driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against the law, the Palmetto State had the 5th highest number of drunk driving accidents per capita based on data from the NHTSA, CDC and FBI. Over 15,000 people were arrested for DUIs in South Carolina in 2018 alone, and nearly 300 people lost their lives due to drunk driving. Countless more were seriously injured.
Distractions behind the wheel have become especially prevalent in recent years with technology like smartphones, vehicle infotainment systems and GPS at drivers’ fingertips. South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety reported that distracted or inattentive driving while on a cell phone or texting is listed as a top contributing factor in more than 20,000 traffic collisions each year.
Speeding is a primary factor in a large percentage of traffic collisions and deaths. Over a quarter of all vehicle fatalities were connected to speeding in 2019, or an average of 25 people killed per day. The faster you travel, the less time you have to avoid a collision and the greater the force of impact. Speed limit signs aren’t suggestions; they’re the law. If speeding was a factor in your crash, that may be a key piece of evidence.
Falling asleep behind the wheel is just as dangerous as driving drunk, according to numerous studies and data. Crashes contributed to drowsy driving causes, on average, 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries each year in the U.S. Proving that drowsy driving played a factor in a crash is often particularly challenging for investigators and attorneys since drivers aren’t likely to admit it up front, though there are ways to find out.
We’ve all witnessed road rage firsthand. “Flipping the bird” is one example, though there are countless more dangerous aggressive driving behaviors that can cause an accident—such as tailgating and cutting someone off. If someone loses their temper and causes another person harm or injury, they can be liable for damages under South Carolina personal injury law.
Whether caused by bad weather, slick roads or a pothole, poor road conditions frequently contribute to single-vehicle and pileup crashes. Seeking compensation for these types of cases is particularly challenging since it may not be clear who’s to blame. Often, a government agency may be partly liable. Since cases against the government have special rules, it’s important that you consult an attorney with experience in these types of claims.
Not all crashes are the result of human error or negligence. In some cases, a defective vehicle or auto part may contribute to or cause a car accident—or result in further injury upon impact. Examples include tire blowouts, brake failure, defective seatbelts, faulty airbags, weak windshields and malfunctioning steering components. In such cases, a vehicle or part manufacturer may be liable, and a product liability lawsuit may be necessary.
Crashes and collisions involving wild animals are more common than you might think. In fact, there are up to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions in the U.S. each year, according to experts. Collisions with deer are perhaps the most common, though other animals can cause a crash too—such as if a person swerves to avoid hitting a dog, cat or squirrel.
Delayed Injuries From Auto Accidents
Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 6 million car accidents. That’s a lot of bumps, bruises, breaks and pain for injured passengers. Because of the initial shock and adrenaline rush that occur after a collision, some victims may not even realize they’re hurt at first.
Many people involved in seemingly “minor” fender benders don’t experience symptoms until hours, days or weeks after the initial crash. In fact, some may not even associate delayed pain or other symptoms with a prior car accident. It’s important to know the signs of an injury with delayed symptoms, which is why you should seek medical care as soon as possible if you experience these symptoms, as your condition may be more serious than you imagine.
Examples of delayed car accident injuries
Delayed symptoms that may be connected to a car wreck include:
- Abdominal bruising, pain, tenderness or swelling. These should never be ignored as they can be signs of internal bleeding. This can occur when a front-row passenger makes contact with the steering wheel or dashboard.
- Back pain. This may indicate damage to the nerves, muscles or ligaments throughout the back. More than half of rear-impact crashes and three-quarters of side-impact crashes cause lower back pain in victims.
- Impaired physical function or changes in personality. Both symptoms come on slowly and can often be subtle. Nevertheless, they are very serious and may represent a traumatic brain injury suffered at the time of the car accident. Crash victims noticing changes in vision or memory, or experiencing out-of-character emotional changes should see their doctor right away.
- Neck and shoulder pain and stiffness. These commonly delayed symptoms may be associated with whiplash. A widespread misconception about whiplash is that cars must be traveling at high speeds to cause the condition. In fact, most cases of whiplash involve accidents where vehicles were traveling less than 14 miles per hour.
- Numbness. This is a very common symptom after a motor vehicle accident, present in 1 in 5 victims of rear-end crashes. Damage to the neck or spinal column may cause delayed tingling, numbness and loss of feeling in the extremities.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an often overlooked yet debilitating condition brought on by a frightening or painful experience. The condition can interfere with a person’s quality of life, ability to work and productivity.
What to do if you have delayed symptoms
The most important thing to remember after being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident is to wait before signing a release of liability with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Even if you feel okay immediately after an accident, completing this form essentially bars you from filing a claim at a later date should you experience delayed physical injuries as a result of the wreck.
If you have not signed a release of liability or settled your claim, you may still take legal steps to seek compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. The first step is to seek medical attention to get a complete evaluation of your condition and obtain an estimate of the cost to treat it.
You may not notice symptoms until days or even weeks after a car accident. This is common. Certain conditions simply take time to develop and present aches and pains. Our Columbia car accident lawyers have extensive experience representing car accident victims with whiplash, back pain and traumatic brain injuries.
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Holding Negligent Parties Accountable
$150 million Bridge collapse
$56 million Military class action
$14.5 million Insurance bad faith
$5 million Forklift accident
$3.5 million Head-on-collision
$1.3 million Multiple vehicle wreck
This list is not a description or characterization of the quality of the ﬁrm’s representation and is in no way a guarantee of a speciﬁc result for your case. Every case is diﬀerent, and our South Carolina injury lawyers and the court will evaluate each case on its own merit.
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Founded in 1993, the mission of Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. is to help injured clients get the justice they deserve. Our exceptional, experienced attorneys are licensed to practice in several areas, including all federal and state courts in South Carolina, all state courts in North Carolina, and federal district and appeals courts across the nation. We are also qualiﬁed to serve clients in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Our Columbia Car Accident Lawyers Represent Crash Victims—No Matter the Cause
Although many car accidents are inescapable for even the most experienced driver, understanding the differences between the most common types of car accidents and their causes can help motorists make better decisions on the road. Moreover, regardless of which type of car accident a driver or passenger has suffered, it’s imperative that injured parties assert their right to compensation and relief when warranted. If your car accident was caused by the negligent actions of another driver, then you may be owed compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Whether a car accident involved multiple vehicles or consisted of a hit-and-run accident, victims need effective legal representation. If you or a loved one has been injured, our car accident lawyers in Columbia can help.