South Carolina Injury & Accident Lawyers

Seeking Truth. Securing Justice. In conference rooms and courtrooms across South Carolina, we do battle because we believe in the rights and power of hardworking people. We believe you deserve more than a chance - you deserve a voice. You deserve the truth. You deserve justice. Contact Us Today.

April is National Car Care Month. Why does a personal injury attorney care about car care? Because poor maintenance is one of the causes of vehicle accidents. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says about one out every five accidents is caused by faulty vehicle maintenance or vehicle defects. It’s the responsibility of manufacturers to produce quality vehicles and parts without defect, but it’s your responsibility to maintain the car or truck once you own it.

People often procrastinate when it comes to vehicle maintenance, waiting for a time when they have more money or time or can do without transportation while the car is in the shop. It’s easy to ignore those little symbols that light up on the dashboard when oil or fluids are low or tires are underinflated. Doing so, however, puts you and everyone else on the road in jeopardy.

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digging-safety

I mean that literally . . . can you dig it? Like a big hole in the back yard for a swimming pool. Or a little hole in the front yard for a new mailbox post. Or a medium-sized hole in the side yard for a nice shade tree.

Even if the ground is soft enough, and even if the shovel is sharp enough, and even if you’re strong enough . . . don’t dig until you’ve been smart enough to call 811, a free service for homeowners, excavators and contractors who plan to dig, grade, drill or excavate. This is to keep you from cutting into a buried utility line. Damaging underground electric or gas lines can cause fires, and cutting into an electric line can cause electrocution as well. The Common Ground Alliance reports that underground utilities in the U.S. are accidentally severed every few minutes. That makes for a lot of potential pain and suffering.

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Motorcoaches are a popular way to travel. The Greyhound slogan was “Leave the driving to us,” and many thousands of people do leave the driving to Greyhound and other motorcoach operators every year. In 2010, U.S. motorcoach companies provided nearly 700 million passenger trips, second only to the airlines. Bus transportation is generally safe, but when an accident does happen, there are likely to be multiple victims.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that between 2000 and 2009, there were 87 fatal crashes of motorcoaches, resulting in 209 fatalities.

On April 10, 2014, a fiery collision between a FedEx big rig and a motorcoach carrying California high school students left 10 people dead. The accident is still under investigation, and federal authorities are again considering what measures can be taken to improve the safety of bus passengers. It was only a few months ago that NHTSA issued a rule mandating that all motorcoaches made after 2016 be equipped with three-point shoulder-lap safety belts. The Silverado Stages vehicle in the Orland, California, crash was brand new, and it had seat belts, even though it was not required to. You have to wonder how many of the high school students had actually buckled up.

The first motorcoach accident investigated by the NTSB occurred in 1968, when a charter coach overturned and burned near Baker, California. Nineteen of the 30 passengers aboard were killed. Even way back then, the NTSB found that “one of the primary causes of passenger injury and fatalities in motorcoach accidents is that the passengers are thrown out of their seats or ejected when a bus sustains a front, side, or rear impact or rolls over,” and they advocated passenger restraint systems.

On February 14, 2003, a crash near Hewitt, Texas, killed 5 and injured 9, and the NTSB found that the fatalities were a result of occupants’ being ejected from their seats.

Two high-profile motorcoach accidents in 2008 —one in Sherman, Texas, and the other near Mexican Hat, Utah— resulted in numerous passenger fatalities and serious injuries. At that time it was noted that “even when the motorcoach remains relatively intact during an accident, passengers lacking a protective seating environment can be thrown from their seating area and killed or injured.”

In passing the final rule requiring safety belts in motorcoaches after 2016, NHTSA took what some consider to be just the first step toward passenger safety. They did not require that older buses be retrofit with seatbelts, nor did they take measures to help ensure that passengers avail themselves of the safety equipment when it is available. In light of the fact that innocent people are still dying in motorcoach accidents, even when safety belts have been installed, it would seem that an additional step could provide additional protection – i.e., reminder systems like what we are accustomed to in our personal vehicles and on airplanes.

A news report following the California crash quoted a former NTSB chairman as saying, “Unfortunately, motorcoach safety has historically been an orphan at NHTSA. This is the transportation that carries primarily older people, students and low-income people. It hasn’t been a priority (for regulators).”

Wow. No wonder it took an act of Congress (the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012) to put safer buses on the road, resulting in the NHTSA rule re seat belts. Sounds like NHTSA needs to improve upon its own rule and also find a way to make passengers take advantage of the improvements the carriers have to pay for. And they haven’t even addressed the other topics Congress told them to look at, like ease of evacuation, fire suppression, smoke suppression and improved fire extinguishers, all factors which could have been at play in the California crash.

If you or a family member is injured in a motorcoach accident, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm – 888-440-3211. We believe you deserve more than a chance – you deserve a voice.

For four years now, April has been designated Parkinson’s Awareness Month by resolution of the U.S. Senate. We’d like to make you aware of some of the issues surrounding Parkinson’s and how Louthian Law might assist you or a loved one afflicted with the disease.

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What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder which affects motor functioning. The symptoms include shaking (tremors), rigidity of muscles, problems with walking, difficulty speaking or an inability to speak, diminished higher brain functions, loss or slowing of physical movement, and depression.

How common is Parkinson’s?

As many as one million individuals in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease. There are 50,000 new cases each year. Approximately four percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before the age of 50, but incidence increases with age. In fact, it is estimated that 1 to 2 percent of the population over the age of 65 suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Is Parkinson’s disease fatal?

The disease itself is not fatal, but people who have Parkinson’s often die at a relatively young age because they are more susceptible to choking, contracting pneumonia, and having accidents. The symptoms do get worse over time, with decades sometimes passing before the disease is clinically diagnosed.

What causes Parkinson’s disease?

While the cause is unknown, many experts think that Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – from vehicle accidents, falls, or sports injuries — also increase the risk of developing the disease.

What things in the environment could increase one’s risk?

Epidemiological research has identified several factors that may be linked to Parkinson’s, including contaminated well water, some insecticides and herbicides, and occupational exposure to certain chemicals. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs added Parkinson’s to a list of diseases possibly associated with exposure to Agent Orange.

Exposure to the industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) appears to greatly increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. One study found that exposure to TCE may result in a six-fold increase in the risk of developing PD. A 2011 study led by researchers at The Parkinson’s Institute pointed out the “considerable public health implications” of the fact that TCE has been detected in up to 30 percent of the nation’s drinking water supplies.

How does TCE get into the water supply? TCE is a common agent in paints, adhesives, carpet cleaners, dry-cleaning solutions and degreasing solvents. In the United States, millions of pounds of TCE are released into the environment each year.

TCE contamination of drinking water has been the subject of concern here in South Carolina. The compound was used extensively at Shaw AFB in the aircraft degreasing process. Contaminated groundwater has been found in six locations, identified by the government as sites FT001, OT-16B, OT-16C, SS-35, SS-36 and CG-38. Clean-up efforts have reduced the off-base affected area from 211 acres to 105.

For more than a decade, electronics manufacturer AVX illegally dumped groundwater laced with TCE into Myrtle Beach’s sewer. The company signed a consent order with the Department of Health and Environmental Control to clean up the site, and numerous lawsuits have been filed.

How can the Louthian Law Firm help someone with Parkinson’s disease?

As personal injury attorneys, our job is to seek justice for those who have been harmed by the negligence of another person or corporate entity. Car accident victims who suffer traumatic brain injuries may have lifelong disabilities, including neurological disorders. Motor vehicle accidents comprise a large part of our case load, and we are proud to advocate for those harmed by drunk or distracted drivers. You might want to read about those services here.

We also handle litigation involving pollution and environmental damage such as that found in Cannons Campground.

Finally, our firm helps people with the Social Security disability process. Most people in the early stages of Parkinson’s are still able to work, but the tremors and loss of movement control may expose some workers to a higher risk of injury. If Parkinson’s disease affects one’s ability to earn a living, the disability benefits available through SSDI may provide some security for the family. It is important that the progression of the disease be well documented in the worker’s medical records.

With eight decades of combined legal experience, the Louthian Law Firm of Columbia, SC, knows about the difficulties a prolonged illness or debilitating condition can cause. Call us at 888-440-3211.

FDR said, in his second inaugural address, “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.” He was referring to the abuses that led to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

GM Auto Recall

Even now, nearly eight decades later, we find that corporate greed has led to unconscionable decisions which, in turn, have resulted in peril for one of America’s industrial giants and for millions of American citizens. I’m referring to the choice by GM not to spend one dollar per car to correct the problems with the ignition switch that has cost at least 12 people their lives and caused 31 accidents. GM itself faces a criminal investigation and multiple lawsuits alleging they knew about the faulty ignition switches in 2002 but waited until 2014 to recall a total of 2.5 million vehicles that have ignition switches that may easily be moved out of the “run” position and into the “auxiliary” position, causing loss of power, steering, braking, airbags and lighting. That’s bad economics any way you look at it.

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Sometimes it takes a mental picture to get across an important message. Try this one: Visualize the end zone of USC’s or Clemson’s football stadium; now imagine that 3 out of every 4 seats are occupied by individuals who have a permanent disability due to a traumatic brain injury. That’s how many South Carolina residents are living with physical, cognitive and behavioral limitations due to a TBI which they survived . . . 61,000 in the state of South Carolina.

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Two recent court rulings are of interest to us as a law firm which represents the rights of whistleblowers who bring to light fraudulent activity.

The first is a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawson v. FMR, a case in which the whistleblowers worked for a contractor hired by Fidelity Investments to provide advisory and management services. The two employees were dismissed after they raised concerns about what they claimed were misrepresentations in the fees charged to shareholders and the disclosures made to the SEC.

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And the answer, announced last month by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is 2V . . . or, more precisely, V2V.

South Carolina Auto Safety

V2V technology allows vehicles to communicate with each other and to share important data with the driver. For instance, basic safety data like speed, location and direction of travel are collected from a 360-degree radius, analyzed for risk, and used to warn the driver to take action (like removing a foot from the gas pedal) to avoid common types of crashes like rear-end and intersection collisions.

This advancing technology was tested in a year-long pilot program run in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by the U.S. Department of Transportation. They outfitted almost 3,000 vehicles with Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) capability – a technology similar to Wi-Fi ; recruited and trained volunteers; and sent the vehicles out onto 73 lane-miles of city streets and freeways.

The pilot program devices collected data from a test car and its surroundings at a rate of 10 times per second, which included such information as speed, braking, wiper status, position and motion of vehicles ahead, intersection and curve details. Then, when appropriate, instructions were communicated to the driver alerting him or her to prepare to brake hard, notice another car in the blind spot or making a lane change, or slow down through a curve, among other things. Note that the devices currently in development only provide warnings – they don’t actually intervene with braking or steering.

NHTSA has begun reviewing the pilot program findings and in February announced it will “begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.” The next step is release of a report addressing technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. Also to come, after the public has been given an opportunity to comment on the research findings, will be NHTSA’s draft of regulations which would require V2V devices in new vehicles – subject, of course, to “Executive Orders and guidance.” According to Plymouth Rock Assurance Company, if the government goes forward with a V2V mandate, we could see cars equipped with this technology coming off the production line as early as 2019.

Insurance companies like Plymouth Rock are likely looking forward to having V2V cars on the road. NHTSA estimates that this technology has the potential to help drivers avoid or mitigate 70 to 80 percent of crashes “involving unimpaired drivers.” They’re evidently acknowledging that a driver who is impaired by drugs or alcohol is not going to be alert enough to quickly respond to his car’s warnings.

Another caveat is that in order to have a widespread effect, there are going to have to be lots of cars on the road that are equipped with V2V so they can talk to each other. Older models can be retrofitted, but it will still take many years before there are enough high-tech vehicles on the roads that they can have a meaningful conversation.

At the Louthian Law Firm, we applaud every advance that can help save lives. Seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and childproof locks are examples of safety innovations that have become standard equipment on modern vehicles, things we just take for granted. We forget that there weren’t even turn signals in cars until GM put them in 1939 Buicks. Aren’t you glad that these days you don’t have to roll down the window and stick your arm out to signal a turn? Some day in the not too distant future we’ll probably be glad our cars can talk to each other, too.

British poet Ralph Hodgson wrote, “Time, you old gypsy man, will you not stay? Put up your caravan just for one day.” Time does have a way of getting away from us. And in the spring, most of us dread the day when we will “lose an hour.” I’m talking about Daylight Saving Time and changing our clocks on March 9 so we can “spring forward” on March 10.

South Carolina Job Safety

That phrase was coined to help us remember whether to set our clocks ahead or back in March. But it’s surely not descriptive of the response most people have to losing an hour of sleep; rather than springing forward, we’re likely to be dragging our wagon.

The physiological processes of living beings – plants and animals – are regulated by our circadian rhythm, a roughly 24-hour cycle. Even small disruptions in one’s circadian rhythm can have measurable adverse affects, such as increasing the chances of cardiovascular events, neurological problems, and accidents – both on the road and in the workplace.

Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the effects sleep loss in general. In 1999, the U.S. National Commission on Sleep Disorders commissioned a study to determine the direct cost of accidents which result from sleep debt. The estimated total economic cost of sleep deprivation in the U.S. was over $56 billion, including $37.9 billion for motor vehicle accidents caused by sleepy drivers, $13.4 billion for work-related accidents caused by sleepiness, and $1.3 billion for falls and similar accidents in public places.

Narrowing the focus just to sleep loss due to Daylight Saving Time, one study, entitled “Estimating the Economic Loss of Daylight Saving Time for U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas,” estimated that the economic loss to this country due to DST was nearly $434 million.

Another study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009 used injury data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration to show that the March switch to Daylight Savings Time resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American workers, a 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 percent more work days lost to injuries.

The increased risk of injury is found especially in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail or in hazardous or potentially dangerous environments. Construction workers, machine operators, fishermen, pilots, farmers, roofers, and truck drivers are among those whose occupations, even under the best of conditions, are hazardous. On Monday, March 10, 2014, we are likely to see a spike in reported accidents for these workers.

In South Carolina, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees. Regardless of who was at fault for the injury, workers’ compensation pays 100% of injured workers’ medical bills, as well as two-thirds of their normal wages during the time when injuries keep them out of work. At times, however, employers try to get out of paying an injured person what they’re due. At Louthian Law, we have been serving injured South Carolinians since 1959; we understand how workers’ compensation law works and can help you collect the money you’re entitled to, so you can concentrate on getting better and going back to work.

We’re going to forgo our Sunday afternoon nap on March 9, go to bed early, spring forward on Monday, March 10, and drive very carefully to the office. If you fall asleep on the road or at work and have a DST accident, call us – we’ll be wide awake and ready to help you. Call us at 1-888-662-0430 or fill out our online form.

There’s a bar in Kazakhstan named Guns N Roses. It’s probably not a place you’re going to frequent – it’s a bit of a drive to get there. A little closer is the Double Shot Liquor & Guns store in Schulenburg, Texas. It even has a drive-thru window. Still too far to travel? Well, thanks to the law recently enacted in South Carolina, you can now take your family to a restaurant just down the street and be in the presence of both alcohol and ammo.

On February 11, 2014, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law Senate Bill 308, the “Concealed Carry Reform Bill.” It permits gun owners who have a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) to take guns into establishments that serve alcohol. Those who tote are not supposed to tipple, but who’s to know?

Some folks have applauded this legislation which enhances the rights of gun owners. But what about the rights of others involved?

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