Sadly, accidents involving distracted drivers are on the rise and often result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. According to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, on average, there are two crashes every sixty minutes involving a distracted driver in South Carolina.
If you have suffered injuries following an auto accident in Saluda or anywhere in South Carolina with a distracted driver, reach out to Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis, P.C. Our experienced Saluda distracted driving accident lawyers can help recover the damages you are entitled to.
Call 855-213-4405 to set up an initial free case review.
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What Is Distracted Driving?
In South Carolina, distracted driving is when an individual’s attention to the primary task of driving is diverted to another activity.
Distracted driving is not only limited to texting and using a cell phone. It includes activities that require you to take your attention off the road or one or both hands off the steering wheel. Other types of distractions include:
- Conversations with passengers
- Eating while driving
- Looking at the scenery
- Dealing with young children
- Operating the car radio or other vehicle controls
- Rummaging through a backpack, purse, or the glove compartment
If you suspect that the motorist who caused your auto accident was distracted in any way, a Saluda distracted driving accident lawyer can evaluate your case to establish if you have a valid claim.
Types Of Distracted Driving
Three different distractions may arise from distracted driving:
A driver’s eyes need to be on the road at all times for them to be aware of any potential dangers. Visual distractions happen when the person behind the wheel takes their eyes off the road.
A driver’s mind should be concentrated on the road. If a driver’s brain is focused on something else other than the road, they are likely to get into a crash.
Drivers are required to have both hands on the wheel for better handling in case of an emergency. Manual distractions happen when a motorist takes one or both hands off the wheel.
Distracted Driving Laws in South Carolina
According to S.C. Code § 56-5-3890, South Carolina currently prohibits texting and driving. As per the law, it is illegal for drivers of all ages to write, send or read a text using a wireless communication device while driving on a South Carolina public street or highway. However, S.C. Code § 56-5-3890 doesn’t apply if you are:
- Using a hands-free device
- Using a GPS or other navigational systems
- Obtaining traffic, road, or weather condition information
- Lawfully parked or stopped
- Trying to get emergency help
- Sending or receiving data via a digital dispatch system
- Performing official duties of a public safety official
South Carolina uses primary enforcement.
Primary enforcement means the police can stop you if they see you breaching South Carolina’s distracted driving laws but must have probable cause that you are texting or using a handheld device based on an unobstructed view. However, South Carolina police cannot seize, search, or require the forfeiture of your handheld device.
While texting and driving isn’t a criminal offense, a South Carolina driver will be fined $25 for this violation.
What Damages Can I Recover For My South Carolina Distracted Driving Accident Claim?
In South Carolina, two categories of damages are recoverable in a distracted driving claim; compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to recover economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the distracted driver for their negligence.
These damages include financial losses caused by:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages or earning capacity
- Property damage
These are compensation for non-financial losses that the injured party suffered, including:
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Limb loss/Amputation
- Loss of consortium
Apart from compensatory damages, South Carolina courts may award the injured punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are only granted if the at-fault party was grossly negligent. Punitive damages aim to punish the wrongdoer and ensure that they are less likely to do it again in the future.
How Long Do I Have to File a South Carolina Distracted Driving Accident Claim?
When you are injured in a South Carolina distracted driving accident or suffer other losses, you have a three-year window (time limit/statute of limitations) starting from the crash date or the date of discovery of your injury to file your personal injury or property damage claim against the responsible party.
If you let the three-year time limit pass, your case will be dismissed.
Do I Need a Saluda Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer?
Yes. It would be best to have someone with the skills and experience of handling the legal processes involved in a distracted driving accident case. An attorney will play a vital role in your pursuit of compensation. Since you will be coming up against defense attorneys and insurance carriers, hiring a lawyer will level things out.
Here are the benefits of hiring a distracted driving accident lawyer:
Case Preparation / Filing a Lawsuit
A distracted driving accident lawyer from Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis, P.C. can involve accident reconstruction experts in investigations to collect evidence and establish the responsible party. An attorney can then file your distracted driver accident claim on your behalf after determining liability.
Our attorneys are seasoned negotiators. We can compute your distracted driving accident claim’s worth and negotiate for maximum damages. Insurance companies may try to low-ball you. We can protect you from insurance companies’ underhand tactics.
Trial Preparation & Representation
Finally, we can represent you in court if your case doesn’t settle after negotiations. We can prepare for trial and present supporting evidence for your case. We can also deal with paperwork and defense attorneys.
Call Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis Today
Distracted driving has become a menace countrywide, killing approximately eight people and injuring another 1,095 individuals daily. When a driver’s attention is directed at something else while they are behind the wheel, the probability of getting into a crash is very high.
If you are a victim of a Saluda distracted driving accident, the car accident attorneys at Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis, P.C. can help you hold the negligent driver responsible for their carelessness and reckless conduct. We build our client’s cases to recover the maximum amount of compensation available.