Joe Sandefur and Martin Stark serve South Carolina as Auto Accident Lawyers.

5 Tips for a Safe Holiday Road Trip

According to AAA, more than 93.6 million Americans are expected to take a holiday road trip.  Whether you’re planning to drive across town to visit with family or take an extended road trip to your favorite vacation spot, you’ll want to arrive safely.

Here are some tips to help make your drive a smooth one:

Check the weather before you go

If the forecast looks iffy, wait out the storm if possible. If you must travel, make sure to buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.

Prepare your car

It’s important to have a mechanic check the condition of your car before hitting the road. If your vehicle is not properly maintained, you could have issues such as hydroplaning, dead batteries and slipping brakes along the way.

Follow state laws

You know the rules! While it’s not always convenient to abide by the law, especially while driving in slow holiday traffic, it could be a matter of life and death. If you need a refresher:

  1. Don’t drink and drive
  2. Make sure every person in the car is properly buckled up
  3. Put the cell phone away – more than 18% of crashes are caused by distracted drivers according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  4. Use caution in work zones

Know what to do to avoid a crash

You’ve done all you can to prepare your car: you’ve checked the weather and you’re paying attention to the road. But unfortunately, you cannot control the actions of other drivers, so it is important to stay alert, keep a good distance between you and the driver in front of you, keep your speed down and have an escape route.

Keep valuables hidden

It’s a sad fact that theft rates spike this time of year. It’s important to keep valuables and gifts hidden in the trunk or covered storage area, especially when stopping for gas or a bathroom break. Don’t make yourself a target for a Grinch!

Types Of Injuries

Under the law, a personal injury is any harm that you, as an individual, sustains including physical injuries, financial costs and emotional trauma. Injuries can also be personal losses such as losing the care and companionship of a loved one.

As you work to resolve your claim, you may hear insurance adjusters, lawyers and doctors talk about different degrees of injuries. You may hear injuries described as minor, moderate, severe or catastrophic.

Minor and Moderate Injuries

Minor or moderate injuries can be injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, bruising or superficial cuts. These may be painful, but they usually heal well and quickly with minimal medical treatment.

Soft Tissue Injuries

You may also hear insurance adjusters refer to “soft tissue injuries.” Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the non-bony parts of the body such as internal organs, nerves, muscles and connective tissues. Sprains, whiplash and pulled muscles are all types of soft tissue injuries. Some soft tissue injuries can result in chronic pain and disability, which can be permanent if not treated properly. Typically, it is harder to recover substantial compensation in these types of cases compared to the cases involving serious or catastrophic injuries.

Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is a serious injury that is expected to permanently change the victim’s life. Examples of this type of injury include burns, amputations, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and certain head injuries. These types of injuries result in the most significant settlements and verdicts because the injuries can be proven objectively and are more obvious to the insurance company and/or the jurors.

Although catastrophic injuries are immediately obvious in most cases, sometimes the full extent of the injury is not immediately revealed. This is especially true when the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury, which may also be called a closed head injury. In some cases, the brain may be affected in ways so subtle that only people close to the victim notice changes in his or her abilities, behavior or personality. A concussion is the mildest form of brain injury, but more serious brain injuries leave their victims permanently disabled.

If you’ve been injured in any accident caused by another driver’s negligence, call Joe and Martin at (843) 357-8888 to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE, comprehensive case evaluation.

Passing on Two-Lane Highways — A one-way ticket to serious injury

Highways are interconnected not only by a vast number of roads, but also by a large variety of different types of roads. The differences between them pose no major driving concerns: some are two-lane, some are three-lane, and some have bike lanes along the side, etc. However, other types of roads introduce safety concerns that drivers need to be more aware of, namely, two-lane highways that allow drivers to pass each other. Although created for the convenience of passing slow drivers, such an inconvenience is hardly worth the types of accidents a passing lane may lead to if drivers are not extra careful.

Most often, passing on a two-lane highway is prohibited, but in rural areas where one road may stretch out for 20 miles before reaching the next intersection, small segments of the road are marked as passing lanes. Typically, these segments are strategically placed in order to give drivers the space and sight they need to safely pass another driver, but there are always risks when crossing to the other side of the road:

  • Miscalculating how much time you have to pass another driver or misjudging the speed necessary to pass them safely
  • Failure to see oncoming traffic either from negligence, curves in the road or in terrain, sun glares, darkness, mist/fog, or another optical phenomenon
  • Failure to turn on your turning signal when passing a vehicle
  • Overcorrecting the vehicle to swing back into the right lane after you’ve passed someone

Failure to adhere to some of the risks these passing lanes allow can result in head-on collisions that have the potential to be fatal. While passing is possible to accomplish safely on highways, it is always a risk to enter the lane with oncoming traffic in order to pass someone. Whether you are passing or being passed, be extra attentive of your surroundings, your speed, and traffic laws.

If a driver has caused an accident by violating a traffic law, that driver is typically held responsible for any injuries suffered because of the accident. But to be certain, if you’ve been injured in any accident caused by another driver’s negligence, call Joe and Martin at (843) 357-8888 to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE, comprehensive case evaluation.

Joe and Martin reach $10,000,000 in recoveries for injured clients

In 2013 Joe and Martin started working together to represent injured South Carolinians against the big insurance companies.  Since then, Joe and Martin have recovered more than $10,000,000 for their clients. The types of cases included automobile accidents, boat accidents, and injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the property of others.  Joe and Marin want to thank our community for allowing us to serve you and trusting us to bring justice to you in your times of need. If you have been hurt and you have questions about who may be at fault, offers from the insurance company, or where to go for medical treatment, call Joe and Martin for a free case evaluation. Injured?  Trust Joe and Martin.

*Any results the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

The 4 Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injurie

We wanted to touch on the seriousness of motorcycle accident injuries and how to rectify an accident of this intensity should it happen to you. Because of the lack of protection that motorcycles offer compared to standard vehicles, accident injuries are typically more severe.

Head Injuries

At this point, most states have passed laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets to limit the number of head injuries seen on the road annually, but there are always those audacious enough to not heed the law and crank up their bike without the proper protection. We cannot advise against this enough. Head injuries are one of the most severe because they can have life-long consequences like traumatic brain injury. These injuries require years of recuperation where the patient must relearn to speak, walk, feed themselves, or use the facilities. Sometimes even these basic tasks cannot be relearned.

Road Rash

Road rash occurs when the biker’s skin is dragged along road surfaces during an accident. Because of friction, external layers of skin are rubbed off which results in abrasions, cuts, and bruises along any exposed part of the body. Depending on how much protective (typically leather) gear the biker is wearing at the time of the incident, road rash can range in severity from light burns to deep scarring.

Spinal Injuries

The spine is an incredibly sensitive part of the body— one that is especially exposed to trauma during a motorcycle accident. Accidents can lend themselves to inflicting minor injuries to discs and soft tissue to causing life-long paralysis. Paralysis involves the loss of control of motor functions of the neck down, waist down, or for certain limbs that can’t always be rehabilitated. Those who experience spinal injuries such as these can require long-term care at assisted living facilities.

Broken Bones

Most common of all is the broken bone. It’s easy to break bones if you’re slung off your bike at high speeds. Because bikes don’t have airbags or seatbelts to keep you in place at the time of a collision, your body is forced to leave the bike. Because there’s nothing to absorb the impact, bikers are often inflicted with severely shattered or broken bones which can potentially tear through neighboring tissue and organs.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury and have been thinking about filing a claim, Joe and Martin can help you. Call us at (843) 357-8888 to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE, comprehensive case evaluation.


Can sitting too close to the steering wheel be dangerous?

When you jump into the front seat of your car, it is unlikely that you consider the position of your seat and steering wheel. In fact, most people have their seats and steering wheel set in positions in which they feel most comfortable. But did you know the position of your seat and the angle of your steering wheel can affect the amount of injury or damage you can face if an accident occurs?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 10 or more inches is the appropriate distance between a driver and the steering wheel. Because a steering wheel airbag can generate a force of nearly two-thousand pounds reaching speeds over 200 miles an hour, sitting too close to the steering wheel and airbag can cause injuries or death on impact.
In order to help you stay safe when driving, we have provided a list of tips:

  1. Tilt the steering wheel at an angle so that it does not directly face the head or chest regions of your body.
  2. Slide the driver’s seat back by adjusting the base of the seat.
  3. Recline the top portion of the driver’s seat at an angle that will keep the top half of your body away from the steering wheel and airbag.
  4. See if you can have pedal adjusters installed in your vehicle. This way shorter people maintain distance from the steering wheel and air bag while still being able to reach the control pedals.

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, please contact Joe and Martin at (843) 357-8888, or fill out an online form anytime, day or night. We will respond as soon as possible.

Car Maintenance Prevents Accidents

The importance of regularly maintaining your vehicle

Regular vehicle maintenance can protect one of your biggest investments – it can also reduce your risk of getting into a car accident. Poor maintenance causes many accidents every year because of blowouts of old tires and failures of worn brakes. Not only is this extremely dangerous for you, the driver, but ignoring regular maintenance of your vehicle is also dangerous to the people around you. If a system or component failure in your vehicle results in a car accident that injures or kills someone else, you can be held liable and be responsible for compensating the injured party or their family.
Make sure you check these things on a regular basis:

  • Windshield wipers and wiper fluid
  • Brake pads
  • Oil and fluids
  • Tires
  • Headlights and taillights

A poorly maintained vehicle is not always the fault of the vehicle owner, but it can also be the fault of a mechanic or service technician who performed work in an improper manner. Driving around in a vehicle that has been poorly maintained can be just as dangerous as driving in one that hasn’t received any maintenance at all. Make sure to research your maintenance facility before you take your vehicle in for service in order to ensure that the work is done by a qualified individual.
Vehicle Recalls
Ignoring a vehicle recall is never a good idea. If you have received notice that your car has been recalled over a potentially dangerous defect, it is critical that you contact your dealership and schedule a time to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. If you don’t, and you are found to have knowingly failed to remedy the problem, you may be held liable if someone gets hurt in an accident.
If you or someone you know was injured, please contact Joe and Martin at (843) 357-8888 or fill out an online form anytime, day or night. We will respond as soon as possible.

Did You Know Frustrated Drivers Cause More Auto Accidents?

Frustrated drivers can cause an auto accident in traffic easier than any other driver. You already know that you shouldn’t be driving when you are intoxicated, distracted, or overly tired. But you might not realize your mood can impair you’re driving and might cause you to cause an accident. Driving while frustrated can lead you to make poor decisions behind the wheel. Some of the risks associated with frustrated driving include:

  1. Slower reaction times making you a dangerous driver;
  2. Making risky moves to get ahead in traffic – i.e., cutting several lanes at a time, not leaving enough space when changing lanes, or driving on the shoulder;
  3. Losing the ability to perform driving skills that require precise timing – i.e., merging onto the freeway or adjusting speed with traffic.

Being frustrated is a common state of mind for many drivers. Some of the most frequent cause of road frustration are:

  1. Slow Drivers
  2. Long Commutes
  3. Crowded Areas
  4. Texting and Driving
  5. Rude Drivers

“I was frustrated” isn’t an excuse for getting into an accident. But, there are steps you can take to reduce your frustration on your drive.

  1. Leave extra time for your commute: If you find yourself feeling like you’re rushing to get to work or other places on time, try factoring in some extra time so that if something comes up and you are held up in traffic, you won’t become anxious.
  2. Find something that calms you down: Take deep breaths, count to 10, listen to music – do something that will help you relax without taking your attention off the road.
  3. Find a less stressful route: If you are always stressed out on the route you take, try taking another route. Even if it happens to be slightly longer, it might end up being faster because there is less traffic.
  4. Don’t engage with an aggressive driver: If a driver honks, yells, or flips you off – don’t retaliate. When you retaliate, you are more likely to make both you and the other driver more frustrated.

When you start to become frustrated while driving, do your best to calm down. You can’t control traffic, but you can control your reaction.

6 Mistakes That Could Potentially Ruin Your Personal Injury Case

  1. Failing to call the police: If you have been in an accident that another driver has caused you must call the police. Although they might try to convince you not to, the police report is vital to your personal injury case. This is because it is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you were not at fault. Without that police report, the other driver might try to manipulate the truth when speaking to their insurance company to try to appear not at fault.
  2. Falling to seek medical attention: If you feel like your injuries are minor you still need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Medical documentation is very important to your injury claim. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the insurance companies may argue that you couldn’t have been hurt that seriously and don’t deserve to be compensated or they might say that you got your injuries a different way.
  3. Failing to be honest with your doctor: Answer all of your doctor’s questions as honestly as possible. Don’t try to hide any previous injuries or illnesses, as this can both impact the quality of the care you receive and harm your legal case.
  4. Missing any of your doctor’s appointment: During your personal injury case, your medical records can be accessed by the insurance companies. These records will contain information about any missed appointments and this information can be used as evidence against you.
  5. Neglecting to take prescribed medications: Not taking the medication prescribed to you is a lot like missing your doctor’s appointments. This demonstrate a lack of commitment to recovery and could severely harm your claim.
  6. Ending medical treatment prematurely: If you decide to stop your medical treatment too early, insurance companies may argue that you must be completely recovered from the accident. Also, if, for some reason, there is a large period of time between your treatments, the insurers may argue that you could have recovered from your initial injury and may now be seeking treatment for an unrelated injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered a car accident injury and have been thinking about filing a claim, Joe and Martin can help you. Call us at (843) 357-8888 to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE, comprehensive case evaluation.