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5 Things to Do Immediately Following a Car Accident

5 Things to Do Immediately Following a Car Accident

Getting into a car accident is a scary situation, even if it’s just a fender bender. Luckily, the personal injury attorneys at Stewart Law Offices, LLC are here to guide you through this traumatic experience, step by step. Here are five things you need to do immediately following your next car collision…

1. Check Yourself & Your Passengers

The first thing you should do after getting into an accident, before even getting out of the car, is make sure everyone is okay. The immediate health of you and your passengers is always priority number one. If nobody is in need of emergency medical assistance, get out and check on the other vehicle.

2. Contact Law Enforcement

After making sure everyone involved in the accident is okay, it is a good idea to call the police – even if there are no serious injuries involved. Responding officers can file a police report, which may be needed for your insurance claim. In some states, it is legally required to contact the police after an accident; no matter how small.

3. Document the Accident

After the police arrive, work with them to construct an accurate record of the accident. Tell them exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. If you aren’t sure, tell them that, instead of making up facts or guessing. If they ask if you are hurt, do not say no, even if you aren’t. Tell them you aren’t sure – many times, injuries don’t become apparent until hours (or even days) after the collision. It is also important to take plenty of pictures of your car for insurance purposes.

4. Gather Information

Obtain the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved in the accident. If there are any witnesses, you should also collect their names and phone numbers in the event you need to contact them in the future.

5. Contact an Attorney

If you want the best chance at recovering costs for personal injury and damaged property, you will need to contact a qualified attorney. They can help you fill out proper documentation, file a legal claim, and recommend the best course of action to recover compensation for your damages.

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, the attorneys at Stewart Law Offices, LLC are just a phone call away. We offer legal representation for personal injury cases in North Carolina and South Carolina, and will even visit you at home or in the hospital while you recover. Contact us online for a free consultation, or give us a call at 866-783-9278.

When Would I Need Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist Coverage In South Carolina?

When Would I Need Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist Coverage In South Carolina?

All drivers are legally required to have Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in South Carolina.  This coverage applies in an accident where the responsible driver has no insurance, does not have coverage that meets state minimum liability limits, or has an insurance company that is unwilling/unable to pay.  It may also apply if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident.

Coverage limits in South Carolina are as follows: $25,000 per person for bodily injury up to $50,000 per accident and $25,000 per accident for property damage.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is always included as part of your liability insurance in South Carolina.

Your insurance company is required to present you with Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage in a meaningful way when you sign up for your policy, but it is not mandatory to sign up. Since there is no clear answer as to what constitutes a meaningful offer, many court cases arise from accidents with underinsured motorists.

One benefit of UIM coverage is the ability to stack your coverage. This means that if you have more than one car insured under the same policy, you could have access to the combined coverage limits of all insured vehicles when one of those vehicles is involved in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.

Insurance companies may not always represent your best interests. Even with both types of coverage, there are many occurrences when medical bills or damages are greater than your policy limits. Should you find yourself in a situation where you are not getting the coverage that you need after an accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, call Stewart Law Offices at 1-866-STEWART. We have offices in Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Columbia and by appointment in Beaufort, and our attorneys represent victims throughout South Carolina.

Note: This information is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. You can only receive legal advice by meeting with an attorney.

Could a Drunk Driver Hit Me While I’m Sitting at an Intersection?

Could a Drunk Driver Hit Me While I’m Sitting at an Intersection?

Of those convicted of drunk driving in the U.S., on average, 50 to 75 percent continue to drive on a suspended license, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Tragedy struck in Florence, South Carolina late last month, when a 19-year-old driver who was allegedly drunk killed a bystander while evading the police. According to WISTV-TV, the incident began around 5 a.m. on a Wednesday when the police received a call about burglary and gunfire taking place on June Lane near the Church Hill apartments.

Reportedly, the alleged drunk driver’s vehicle first sped away from police after a cruiser approached it with its blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. The officer recognized the vehicle from a police dispatch about the car fleeing the burglary scene.

During the chase, the burglary suspect’s vehicle veered off the right side of the road as it approached McLeod Regional Medical Center, resulting in multiple collisions involving two other vehicles and the McLeod’s west parking deck. A 33-year-old occupant of one of the vehicles the 19-year-old driver hit was killed in the three-car wreck. The suspected drunk driver and another person involved in the crash had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

The 19-year-old faces several charges following the incident, including:

  • First degree burglary
  • Weapons/discharging firearms into a dwelling
  • No S.C. driver license
  • First degree assault and battery
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of violent offense
  • Drugs/simple possession of marijuana
  • Second degree assault and battery
  • Traffic/failure to stop for a blue light, great bodily harm results
  • Felony driving under the influence (DUI) involving death

    If the Drunk Driver Who Hurt Me Faces Criminal Charges, Will That Help Me?

    Unfortunately, as attorney Jenna W Garraux explains in the video below, while drunk drivers should be punished to the full extent of the law, a criminal suit won’t provide the money victims need for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost pay from missing work and pain and suffering. To do that, victims must file a civil suit.

    Youtube Video

    Stewart Law Offices, LLC – Car Wreck Lawyers

    Source: http://www.wistv.com/story/27150385/police-bystander-killed-in-3-car-crash-after-chase-in-florence

    Note: This information is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. You can only receive legal advice by meeting with an attorney.
    Back to School Driving Safety

    Back to School Driving Safety

    Early fall is filled with the excitement of a fresh start with back to school for students everywhere, but unfortunately, it also brings about new dangers for drivers and students.  Congestion near schools, newly licensed teen drivers, student commuters rushing to get to class, and buses making frequent stops all create increased need for drivers to be aware and remain safe. Stewart Law Offices, LLC wants to remind you of a few simple tips to help you and your students have a successful, safe, and injury free school year.

    According to the National Safe Routes to School program, more children are struck by vehicles near schools than anywhere else.  Drivers have to be extra aware whenever they are in or near a school zone in order to avoid finding themselves in a tragic collision.

    School-Zone Reminders

    ●    No double parking in a school zone.  This diminishes visibility for children and other vehicles.
    ●    Avoid loading and unloading children across the street.
    ●    Obey posted speeding signs in a school zone.  If no sign is visible, obey the standard 25 mph rule.
    ●    Do not use cell-phones in a school zone.  Drivers must remain aware at all times to avoid hitting students.
    ●    Scan constantly for absent-minded students.  Kids often don’t follow proper rules of the road and even if the driver has the right of way, tragedy can be avoided by maintaining intense awareness.
    ●    Teens and inexperienced drivers are often those surrounding high schools.  Maintain defensive driving at all time.
    ●    Avoid switching lanes or passing other drivers in a school zone.

    Bus Safety Reminders

    ●    It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
    ●    Maintain extra distance behind a bus so you’re prepared to stop when needed.
    ●    Wait until the bus begins moving to resume traffic.  Late children often run out and aren’t aware of the dangers of their surroundings.
    ●    Buses merging back into traffic have the right of way.

    While it might seem like a hassle to be stuck in the often overwhelming and frustrating traffic accompanying school start and end times, it is important as drivers and adults that we keep our children and those in the community safe.  If you or your family find yourselves involved in any type of accident and need a personal injury attorney, Stewart Law Offices, LLC is ready and willing to support you.  We hope you won’t need our number, but if you do, we will counsel you and help you get the compensation you deserve.  Call us at 1-866-STEWART.

    For more information regarding back to school driving safety, please visit http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx.

    How Can I Throw a Safe Holiday Party?

    How Can I Throw a Safe Holiday Party?

    One of the best things about the holiday season is getting to gather together with friends, family and co-workers to celebrate. However, as much fun as such celebrations are, if those attending and hosting them do not do so safely and responsibly, they can result in tragedy.
    According to the National Safety Council, from 2007 to 2011, 35 percent of accidents on Christmas were the result of drinking and driving. To avoid letting drunk driving auto accidents or any other safety issues result from a holiday party, The Herald of Everett, Washington recently published some tips for throwing safer holiday gatherings, including:

    • Don’t serve alcohol, or if you do, only serve beer and wine.
    • Hosts of work-related holiday parties should invite employees’ spouses and partners to attend and have employees and their guests pay for their drinks.
    • Stop serving alcohol after one or two hours.
    • Use drink tickets or some other method to limit the amount of drinks partygoers are allowed to consume.

    Do I Need to Sue the Drunk Driver Who Hurt Me If He or She Was Arrested?

    Stewart Law Offices wishes you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season. If you ever happen to need a auto accident attorney Columbia SC, we are here for you. To learn more about our firm or to get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation with one of our injury lawyers, call us or send us a message on our website.

    Did You Know? Fatalities in drunk driving wrecks accounted for 41 percent of the traffic-related deaths in South Carolina in 2012, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
    Note: This information is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. You can only receive legal advice by meeting with an attorney.

    Pedestrian Vs. Car: What you need to know

    Pedestrian Vs. Car: What you need to know

    Close to 5,000 people are killed annually in pedestrian vs. vehicle crashes, and the laws might not be as simple as you think.  It’s important to know and understand your rights and responsibilities as both a driver and pedestrian to avoid injury and stay safe in these encounters.

    Almost fifteen percent of traffic deaths occur in a pedestrian vs. vehicle encounter (http://www.ncsl.org). Unfortunately, pedestrians, whether in the right or wrong, often have a lot more to lose in these collisions.  While pedestrians are more vulnerable, both drivers and pedestrians have responsibilities to abide by and rights to protect them.  Stewart Law Offices, LLC is well versed in cases involving personal injury of both drivers and pedestrians.  Read on for more information on pedestrians vs. vehicles and what to do if you find yourself involved in an accident as a pedestrian or a driver.

    Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities

    Pedestrian laws vary by state, but one myth proves false in every states: The pedestrian always has the right of way.  Pedestrians are protected when observing the traffic laws provided to them, but also hold a responsibility that could leave them not only severely injured, but liable in a collision. Pedestrians on foot aren’t the only ones who may find themselves in a dangerous collision.  Cyclists are often traveling at higher speeds and sharing the roads with drivers can put them at a greater risk than even those on foot.

    The following is a chart that summarizes both North and South Carolina’s pedestrian laws.  More information can be found at http://www.ncsl.org.

    North Carolina Pedestrian Laws
    •    Vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk, unmarked crosswalk, or near an intersection.
    •    Vehicles emerging from any alleyway, building, private road, or driveway must yield the right of way to any pedestrian or person riding a bicycle approaching on a sidewalk extending across such alleyway, building, private road, or driveway.
    •    Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
    •    Where traffic control devices are in operation, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk.

    South Carolina Pedestrian Laws
    •    Vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within a crosswalk that are in the same half of the roadway as the vehicle or when a pedestrian is approaching closely enough from the opposite side of the roadway to be in danger.
    •    Pedestrians may not suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close to constitute an immediate hazard.
    •    Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
    •    Where traffic control devices are in operation, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk and may only cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a traffic control device.

                                                                                 

    http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/pedestrian-crossing-50-state-summary.aspx

    Pedestrians who are observing these laws can often avoid collision and maintain safety.  It is also important that pedestrians avoid distractions while sharing the road with drivers.  Removing head phones and keeping eyes on the road will all serve to keep pedestrians safe.  Cyclists should always air on the side of caution when sharing major roadways with vehicles.  Light colored clothing, extra bicycle lamps and reflective surfaces and ensuring distractions aren’t present can all help keep a cyclist safe.  Those on bikes should avoid using cell phones when riding.

    Driver Rights and Responsibilities

    As the operator of the more heavy machinery, drivers often feel a responsibility beyond what they deserve when in a collision with a pedestrian.  While the result of a pedestrian collision can be catastrophic and even fatal, the driver is not always the responsible party.  North Carolina drivers can often prevent citation and fault for an accident if they observe posted signage and remain aware of pedestrian laws and right of ways.

    While a driver may not be responsible under the law if adhering to these traffic regulations, being involved in a pedestrian crash may still leave you feeling responsible.  Avoiding distractions, especially in high pedestrian areas and approaching pedestrians with caution, even when you have the right of way, may prevent a tragedy from occurring.

    No one wants to find themselves in a car accident, but if you do end up in a collision, the personal injury lawyers at Stewart Law Offices, LLC are ready to help you with your needs. Serving the South Carolina cities of Rock Hill, Beaufort, Spartanburg and Columbia, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina, Stewart Law Offices can help ensure you are treated fairly and pursue any compensation you deserve. Call us at 1-866-STEWART