South Carolina is ranked as the 7th worst state for driving in the United States. It is estimated that, on average, South Carolina sees two traffic accidents involving a distracted driver every hour. It is clear to see that distracted driving is a serious problem in South Carolina and additional measures need to be taken to alleviate the situation.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of an accident caused by a distracted driver, you do have legal recourse when it comes to seeking compensation for your injuries and damages. An experienced Abbeville distracted driving accident lawyer at Ayers, Smithdeal & Betis Law Firm can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that you receive full and maximum compensation.
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What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving under South Carolina state law is defined as any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. While distracted driving is commonly associated with texting while driving, many activities fall under distracted driving including eating, grooming, fiddling with the radio, etc.
The state of South Carolina strongly advises against engaging in any forms of distractions while driving as they endanger the safety of other drivers, passengers, and bystanders.
Types of Distracted Driving
As discussed above, distracted driving involves more than just texting while driving. To ensure safe driving, the driver needs to have their eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel, and their minds on the task of driving. In this section, we are going to discuss the various types of distracted driving.
This refers to any activity that causes the driver’s eyes to wander off the road. Visual distractions can include looking at billboards, observing a roadside accident, looking at the infotainment center, etc. Visual distractions are particularly dangerous since they also cause the driver to take their focus off the road and make it difficult for the driver to properly assess their surroundings.
These are any activities that cause the driver to take their hands off the wheel for any amount of time. Taking even one hand off the wheel impacts your reaction time as well as your ability to control the vehicle. Manual distractions include doing hair/makeup, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking, etc.
This refers to any activity that takes the driver’s mind off the primary task of driving. While you can have your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, if your mind is not focused on the drive, your ability to drive safely will be compromised. Cognitive distractions can include listening to a podcast, daydreaming, talking to your passengers, worrying about a particular issue, etc.
While there are many forms of distracted driving, the state is currently focused on limiting the number of accidents caused by texting while driving. As you might have deduced, texting while driving involves all categories of distracted driving making it riskier than others.
Laws Regarding Distracted Driving in South Carolina
South Carolina laws on distracted driving are contained in S.C. Code 56-5-3890. According to the law, all drivers, regardless of age, are prohibited from using a wireless communication device to read, compose, or send a text or email while driving on a public street or highway within the state.
Exceptions to this rule apply if you are:
- Requesting for emergency assistance
- Legally stopped or parked
- Using hands-free voice-to-text technology
- Carrying out your duties as a public safety official
- Receiving or sending data via a digital dispatch system
- Using a GPS or navigational system
It is important to note that South Carolina distracted driving laws fall under primary enforcement, which means that a police officer can pull you over and issue you with a citation if they see you violating the law. However, the law also prohibits the officer from searching, viewing, seizing, or requiring the forfeiture of your wireless communication device.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Distracted Driving Accident Claim in South Carolina?
There are various types of damages you can recover in a successful South Carolina distracted driving accident claim:
These types of damages are awarded to compensate victims for objective and verifiable losses that can be assigned a monetary value. They include medical expenses, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, travel costs, etc.
These are damages awarded to victims for subjective non-verifiable losses that can’t be assigned a monetary value. They include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, etc.
These types of damages are intended to punish the defendant for grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior. The state of South Carolina has put a cap on punitive damages at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim in South Carolina?
South Carolina’s statute of limitations gives accident victims three years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system.
Why Do I Need an Abbeville Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer?
One of the most important elements of a distracted driving accident claim is proving that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident. This can be very difficult to prove on your own, not to mention the fact that you will also be dealing with your injuries.
Our team of experienced attorneys at Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis Law Firm know how to properly investigate distracted driving accident claims, gather and analyze all the necessary evidence including phone records, witness statements, video footage, etc.
We will also work with expert witnesses including expert investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, as well as other specialists in order to build a strong case for you.
Our attorneys are also aggressive when it comes to handling negotiations and litigation. With an experienced Abbeville distracted driving accident lawyer, you stand the best chances of success in your case.
Get Professional Legal Help Today!
Regardless of how skilled or experienced a driver might be, if they don’t have their full attention on the road, they significantly increase their risk of causing a serious accident. According to the NHTSA, more than 8 people are killed every day and another 1,095 people are injured as a result of distracted driving in the United States.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a distracted driver, you are entitled to compensation under South Carolina law. However, as with any legal process, you need the skilled mind of an experienced attorney. At Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis Law Firm, we are prepared to fight for your rights to the very end. Call us today at 855-213-4405 to talk to one of our Abbeville personal injury attorneys today.