Columbia, S.C. , September 19, 2011 – A recent national report’s findings that South Carolina’s rural roads are the most deadly in the nation should serve as a reminder to transportation officials and motorists about the importance of proper road maintenance and responsible behavior behind the wheel, Columbia injury lawyer Bert Louthian said today.
The nonprofit transportation research group TRIP found that South Carolina had the highest percentage of deaths on rural roads in 2009, according to the most recent statistics. Nearly 900 people were killed on rural routes in the state.
“It’s a disturbing finding,” said Louthian, a personal injury and wrongful death attorney who represents clients throughout South Carolina who have been hurt or killed in car, truck and other motor vehicle accidents.
“South Carolina is home to many small towns accessed by rural roads, and the population is growing,” Louthian said. “Increased congestion coupled with poorly maintained roads is a recipe for disaster..
The TRIP report found that poor roadway design such as narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, pavement drop-offs and steep slopes are common dangers on rural roads. But in a shaky economy, improvements may be limited by what type of state funding is available for repairs, the study acknowledged.
“That’s where driver responsibility becomes crucial,” Louthian said. “Behaving negligently on the roads by speeding, driving while drowsy or impaired, texting, talking on the cell phone or even playing with the radio can kill no matter if you’re on an interstate highway, neighborhood street or rural road..
With 17,075 deaths, more than half of the nation’s traffic fatalities in 2009 took place on rural roads, according to the TRIP report. Overall, the fatality rate in rural route crashes was more than three times higher than on all other roads.
“The bottom line is that you have to pay attention and respect other motorists when you’re driving in South Carolina or anywhere else across America,” Louthian said.
Catastrophic auto accidents can change families’ lives forever, the Columbia lawyer added.
“Even in accidents where a person doesn’t die, the injuries can be devastating,” Louthian explained. “Victims frequently sustain traumatic brain injuries or become paralyzed in serious crashes, among countless other disabling injuries. Their ability to support their families, financially and emotionally, may be destroyed or limited in an instant..
One of the most difficult problems that accident victims face in the wake of a motor vehicle crash is dealing with insurance companies, Louthian said.
“Insurance adjusters are working to score the lowest settlement possible for victims, and often try to get at them quickly and while they are at their most vulnerable,” the South Carolina personal injury attorney explained.
“Often, families are too caught up to realize that they could be signing away their rights to valuable compensation. They may not even realize how much a lawyer can help at that initial phase..
Experienced vehicle accident attorneys work with insurance companies to protect clients from making statements that could jeopardize their claims. Lawyers can also work with law enforcement and hire experts who can reconstruct the accident scene to determine how the collision occurred.
“All of these pieces of information are the building blocks of a solid vehicle accident lawsuit,” said Louthian. “Although you go through life hoping that you’ll never have to hire an attorney for a car accident claim, it’s important to know how the laws protect you..