Can I Receive Compensation For My Injuries As a Pedestrian in Charleston, SC and Summerville, SC

Posted by Jay McMillian | Jan 25, 2018 | 0 Comments


It is a saying that has existed since 5 minutes after the first car rolled of the assembly line . . . “Pedestrians have the right of way." Since we took Driver's Ed as teenagers, we have been told that we must always operate a vehicle with the understanding that any one on foot is to be given every courtesy when sharing the road of the sidewalks.  However, with the more experience we gain driving it becomes clear that this hard and fast principle may not be applicable to every situation involving a pedestrian. After all, who should be at fault if a pedestrian wonders out into the street in the middle of a city block and is hit by a car?  Who is at fault if a pedestrian ignores a no-walking sign and tries to cross the street at a traffic light and is struck? Who is a fault if the pedestrian is walking on the edge of a rural road where no sidewalk is available and is hit by a car?

Charleston and Summerville are two very unique towns in that the way the downtown is structured in both cities lends itself to more frequent and more dense foot traffic from pedestrians than other South Carolina towns. With the bustling tourism and culture scene of downtown Charleston and the charm and festivals of downtown Summerville, there are simply more people on foot in the proximity of cars than in other places. It is important to note that for this very reason, it is imperative that every motorist in Charleston and Summerville be on the lookout for pedestrians at all times. In support of this general premise, the State of South Carolina also has a very complex statutory scheme in place to help set the parameters for operating vehicles in the proximity of pedestrians so as to avoid accidents and fatalities.


Every operator of a car accepts an implied duty to protect pedestrians from harm.  This duty is enforced anywhere that a driver of a car knows or should know that pedestrian traffic is present or is known to be present. What does this implied duty mean in a practical sense? Well, let's say you are driving a car on King Street in downtown Charleston, which has a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour. However, on weekend afternoons and evenings, it is a well known fact that King Street is inundated with pedestrian traffic at all crosswalks and on both sides of King Street. Therefore, even though there is a posted speed limit of 25 mph, you will be expected to operate the vehicle with an implied understanding that you will drive in consideration of the danger faced by the pedestrians around you. This requires you to control your speed (even to the point of driving less than the posted speed limit) and limit lane changes.

Statistically speaking, most pedestrian accidents in Charleston and Summerville occur at intersections. In acknowledgement of this fact, South Carolina law requires that drivers enter intersections at a reduced speed, that turn signals be turned on a minimum of 100 yards prior to reaching an intersection, and that when in an area of prone to heavy pedestrian traffic, that drivers maintain a lookout for pedestrians at all times.

Furthermore, S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3230 states:

“Notwithstanding other provisions of any local ordinance, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.”


South Carolina law does place just as much of a duty to prevent accidents upon the pedestrian as it does the driver of a car. The following rules concerning pedestrians are set forth in Title 56, Chapter 5 of the South Carolina Code:

  • Obey traffic control signal and regulations (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3110);
  • Pedestrians can only cross in a designated crosswalk (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3120);
  • Must remain in a place of safety when a vehicle is close enough to cause a hazard (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3130);
  • Walk in the right half of the crosswalk (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3140);
  • Must yield to oncoming vehicles if they are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3150);
  • Shall never cross a road diagonally, unless directed to do so by traffic signals or signs (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3150);
  • Never walk on a roadway when a sidewalk is available (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3160);
  • Shall never walk on a highway, except when necessary, and only then on the shoulder (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3160);
  • Always walk on the left side of the road if forced to walk along a highway (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3160);
  • Always yield the right of way to vehicles if walking along a highway (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3160);
  • Never walk along a freeway or interstate unless directed by a law enforcement officer, or if the purpose of doing so is for roadwork, to perform a public works or official duty, or in the event of an accident (S.C. Code Section 56-5-3170);
  • Never stand on a road for the purpose of soliciting a ride, soliciting employment, or soliciting the watching or guarding of a vehicle (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3180);
  • Never raise a cane unless totally or partially blind (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3190);
  • Always yield the right of way to emergency vehicles (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3260);
  • Agree to render themselves a hazard when under influence of drugs or incapacitated, and so shall not walk along a sidewalk or road in such conditions (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3270)
  • Shall never pass through any barrier, gate, or bridge at a railroad crossing when the signal has been given or is in the process of being given (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3280).


Though South Carolina Law does put many responsibilities upon a pedestrian, the South Carolina Code also documents very specific legal rights of pedestrians that are inviolably protected:

  • A right to finish crossing the road if they are close to approaching the intersection when traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3130);
  • Protection from all vehicles approaching the intersection, and not just the vehicle at the front of the line at the intersection (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3130);
  • An absolute right to safety from vehicles when walking on a sidewalk (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56-5-3250);
  • The right to cross the street at any point – even outside of a crosswalk – if carrying a raised cane or walking stick, and/or when accompanied by a guide dog; however the walking stick must be white in color or white tipped with red (S.C. Code Ann. Section 56- 5-3200)


As a Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and work to secure compensation for your injuries as a pedestrian. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case. 

Being an experienced pedestrian injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced car accident lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306

About the Author

Jay McMillian

Background I chose to build my law practice in the areas of Car Accident and Personal Injury because these areas of the law are the most accurate reflection of my values and my upbringing. Being the son of a breakfast hostess and a retired US Army Sargent turned construction worker, the values instilled upon me by my par...


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The McMillian Law Firm

Attorney Jay McMillian operates a solo practice with an emphasis on two core principles. First, to provide competent legal advice in the areas of Auto Accident and Personal Injury Law to the people he is proudest to serve, the people of the South Carolina Low Country. Second, to provide the most personal and intimate service to each and every client and give them the attention and compassion that they deserve while going through the stress and strain of negotiating or litigating an injury claim. If you live in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, James Island, Walterboro, Moncks Corner, and you or someone you love has been injured by the negligence of another, please call Jay at The McMillian Law Firm today.

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