Pedestrians who get hit in South Carolina car accidents have the same rights to a settlement as any innocent driver. But the first step in the process of getting a settlement is proving fault, or liability. Doing that requires knowledge of pedestrian traffic law, which I touch on below.
The best way to prove fault in a South Carolina car accident case is to get advice from an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney. When you're seriously injured, there are many reasons why it's critical to do this.
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On to the key points of South Carolina pedestrian traffic law—in plain English, of course.
South Carolina Law Holds Drivers Highly Responsible for Keeping Pedestrians Safe
A 1953 South Carolina federal court case, Greene v. Miller, lays down the law:
[T]he first duty of a motorist is to keep a sharp lookout ahead to discover the presence of those who might be in danger, and if he performs that duty and discovers that someone is in danger, then a second duty arises to use every possible available means to avert injury[.]
Two critical points here:
- A driver's first legal responsibility is a "sharp lookout," meaning drivers must watch the road extra close to seek and find pedestrians.
- Drivers must avoid hitting pedestrians if there's any possible way to do it. That includes slowing down, stopping, or even running off the road. The court in this case found a truck driver at fault because he "made no effort to avoid [a pedestrian] by stopping or driving off the road, even though the shoulder was firm and the ditch was shallow."
Other South Carolina laws make it clear pedestrians are entitled to special care:
- If necessary to avoid a crash, drivers should blow their horn under South Carolina code section 56-5-3230.
- When a pedestrian is on the road, the speed limit goes out the window. When a pedestrian's involved, a driver can commit a speeding infraction even by driving below the speed limit. South Carolina code section 56-5-1520 prohibits driving faster than reasonable and prudent under the circumstances and requires drivers to consider actual and potential hazards. It also requires reduced speed if there's a "special hazard." Moving even one mile an hour can be unreasonable and imprudent if it's in the path of a pedestrian. Any pedestrian is put in a hazard by any car. The Greene case ruled a pedestrian frantically waving down traffic was a special hazard.
- Driver right-of-way stops where a pedestrian starts. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in 1965 that even if a pedestrian fails to yield the right of way to a vehicle, the driver has a legal responsibility to use care for the pedestrian's safety.
- Drivers must use extra special care for children and impaired pedestrians. South Carolina code section 56-5-3230 requires drivers to use "proper precaution" for a child "or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person." While the law harshly views drunk drivers who cause accidents, we humanely require drivers to protect even impaired pedestrians.
- Pedestrians have the right of way when they walk in the path of a vehicle. South Carolina code section 56-5-3130 requires drivers to yield when a pedestrian is in the vehicle's lane or is so close to it driving through it will endanger them.
- When a driver stops at a crosswalk for a pedestrian, another driver approaching from the rear can't pass. South Carolina code section 56-5- 3130(d) prohibits this to keep a hurried driver from running over a pedestrian.
- A driver crossing a sidewalk must yield right of way to any pedestrian, as required by South Carolina code section 56-5-3250.
South Carolina Pedestrians Have Legal Responsibilities
The law imposes these requirements on South Carolina pedestrians to help keep them safe:
- Pedestrians must obey traffic lights. South Carolina code section 56-5-3110 requires you to obey these just like any driver.
- Don't jump off a curb. South Carolina code section 56-5-3130(b) prohibits walking or running into the path of a nearby vehicle.
- If there's a crosswalk, use it. South Carolina code section 56-5-3150(c) requires you to.
- Use the right half of a crosswalk if you can, as required by South Carolina code section 56-5-3140.
- If there's no crosswalk, pedestrians yield right of way to drivers under South Carolina code section 56-5-3150(a). But as discussed above, drivers still owe pedestrians who don't yield special care to not run over them.
- If there's a sidewalk, use it. This is required by South Carolina code section 56-5- 3160(a).
- If there's no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road, as far as possible from the road. If there's no shoulder, walk as near as possible to the outside edge of the road. If it's a two-way road, walk only on the left, and yield the right of way to drivers. This is in South Carolina code section 56-5-3160.
- It's illegal for pedestrians to be on the interstate unless there's an accident or breakdown or they need help. South Carolina code section 56-5-3170 prohibits this.
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles, under South Carolina code section 56-5-3260. Still, these vehicles must avoid hitting a pedestrian, just like any other driver.
- Intoxicated pedestrians stay on the sidewalk. This is required by South Carolina code section 56-5-3270, but it doesn't give a driver the right to run over them, as we covered above.
Don't Add a Lifetime of Regret to an Already Severe Injury
This is your one chance to get compensated for severe injuries that may involve mountains of medical bills, loads of lost wages, and massive pain and suffering. Don't risk being shortchanged by an insurance adjuster or overlooking extra insurance that could give you a better settlement if you have it.
Get answers from an experienced Spartanburg, South Carolina, car accident attorney. Call toll-free at 888-230-1841.
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