Please review the answers to the following questions and hopefully you’ll find the answers you’re looking for. Still have questions? Contact us at 803.285.0225
What should you do after a wreck?
- Get to safety. If you are able to do so, get to a safe place away from danger. If you can, help others to safety. If you can safely move your vehicle out of danger, do so. Make sure everyone is okay and if anyone is not okay, get medical attention for them immediately.
- Seek medical attention. (Placed here on the list because it may be urgent). If you have had any injury, you should be medically examined, even if you do not think you are badly hurt. Do not try to tough it out. First of all, you want to be sure that you are okay. Second, lack of medical treatment and the documentation that it provides can hurt your case. When you are given advice by a doctor, follow it. If you are referred to another doctor, go see him. If you are prescribed medication, take it. Do not miss any doctor’s appointments, but if you must, immediately reschedule the appointment. Make sure that you understand the doctor’s notes and can read them. If you cannot read them, neither can the insurance adjuster. All this not only ensures your recovery, it helps to ensure your ability to be fairly compensated for your injuries.
- Call local law enforcement or 911. Call law enforcement or 911 to report the wreck. Cooperate with the police when they arrive. While you are waiting on law enforcement, do not admit fault to the other driver or anyone else at the scene of the wreck.
- Write down and photograph what happened. You will best remember what happened at the scene of an wreck if you write it down. What happened just before the wreck, during the wreck, and immediately after the wreck? What did you see, hear, and feel? If you have a camera or cell phone, take pictures of the wreck scene, the vehicles in the wreck, and the injuries to you and to others. You can document more or less depending upon the severity of the wreck, and if liability is obvious. (Please read further under “Documentation”)
- Notify your insurance company. You should notify your insurance company after an wreck. Report what happened as accurately and truthfully as you can. It is important to put your own insurance company on notice. The other driver may not be insured or may be underinsured. The other driver’s insurance company also needs to be notified. When talking to the other driver’s insurance company, give your name, your insurance information, and a brief version of what happened. When they ask for more, tell them you will get back to them after you have spoken to a personal injury lawyer.Track your injuries in a journal. Being treated fairly is really dependent on good recordkeeping practices. You must account for everything that is important in your medical treatment and recovery. Write down how you feel and what is different in your daily life because of the wreck. Keep receipts for medical bills, rental cars, and any other expenses because of the wreck. Record the time, date, weather conditions, road conditions, conversations, and any other information about the wreck. (See “Documentation”)
- Have medical providers to file on your health insurance. This will ensure that your bills are paid and your credit does not suffer while you wait for your case to resolve. The other driver’s insurance company generally will not pay you until your case is settled. Your healthcare provider will want to be reimbursed from what you collect; however, this amount may be less than what you would have to pay the health care provider because the health care provider may write off part of the bill. There is no guarantee that you will collect, and you do not want a bill with a medical provider hanging over your head.
- Go to traffic court. Sometimes, a traffic ticket issued at the scene of an wreck will be dismissed at court if you do not show up to make sure it is prosecuted. It is harder for a ticket to be dismissed if you are there. At other times, the person charged with the ticket may contest the ticket and if you are not there, it will probably not be disputed. Why is this important to you? If the driver who caused the wreck is not found guilty, it makes it easier for the driver to say the wreck was not his fault.
- Contact an attorney. Not all lawyers represent wreck victims. And not all lawyers who represent wreck victims handle your case personally or go to court, if necessary, to protect your interests. Find a lawyer who is qualified, deals with you directly, and is willing to try your case if that is what it takes to see that you are fairly compensated.
I was in a car wreck in South Carolina and it was not my fault. I have medical bills and I don’t have health insurance. Who pays for them?
The medical bills from the injuries you received in your South Carolina car wreck should be paid from any settlement recovery you receive when you settle your car wreck case. If you have health insurance, you should submit all of your medical bills to your own health insurance company so that they can pay these bills and so that these bills do not go into collections. The problem, of course, is if you do not have health insurance. In this case, you will need to make some payment of these medical bills until your case settles and then your bills can be paid from the settlement.
You should also contact your own insurance company and ask if you have medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If you do, then you should submit your bills to your car insurance company so that these bills can be paid. Your South Carolina car wreck lawyer can help you figure out a payment plan with your medical providers that will best suit your ability to pay.
Who will handle my car wreck case?
You will work directly with your lawyer who is assisted by a qualified paralegal and other professionals. Your attorney, not a paralegal, will negotiate your car wreck case with the insurance company. If you and your attorney, together, agree a lawsuit is required in your case, your lawyer will be by your side to advise you of each decision. David Blackwell Law is committed to promptly answering any questions which may arise.
How will I be able to afford a lawyer?
Being in a automobile wreck can be a huge financial burden. Because of this, our firm works on a contingency fee basis. This simply means that you will only have to pay us if you are awarded money through a settlement or a trial. Also, we are reimbursed for any out of pocket expenses that we incur until your case is settled or tried.
Can I settle my South Carolina car wreck claim without a lawyer?
You may not need a lawyer, but it does not hurt to discuss your case with a lawyer. For cases that only involve minor property damage, it is unlikely that a personal injury lawyer can offer much assistance. In more serious cases, it is much more likely that a good personal injury lawyer can assist you.
I would always recommend that you consult with a lawyer, and I can say with certainty that you should have a lawyer review your case under the following circumstances:
- The other driver was intoxicated
- Bones were fractured;
- Medical bills and lost wages together exceed $5,000;
- Preexisting medical conditions are aggravated by the wreck;
- The atfault driver does not have insurance or enough insurance;
- Tractor trailer wreck;
- Medical liens are filed by your health insurer.
- The basic information that you need to share when you speak with a lawyer should answer the following questions:
- When was the wreck?
- Where was the wreck?
- How did the wreck happen?
- Did the police come to the wreck and issue any tickets?
- Were you or was anyone else hurt or what were the injuries?
- What kind of medical treatment have you received?
- What damage was done to your vehicle?
- Do you have insurance?
- Does the other driver have insurance?
Who should I trust to tell me if my settlement is fair?
You certainly do not want to rely on anyone from the insurance company, including the insurance adjuster and your insurance agent. Their job is to minimize your claim. They will not want to pay you a large amount of money because they are working for the insurance company, not you. Your doctor is probably someone that you can trust to properly treat you for your injuries, but he has no idea of what your car wreck claim is worth.
You need to find an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. You should do your homework and make sure that the lawyer that you select handles the type of case that you have, will handle your case personally, and will try your case if it goes to court. The lawyer should be able to answer your questions and make you feel comfortable that your claim will be properly presented to the insurance company.
Will my case go to trial?
Most car wreck cases are settle without a lawsuit being filed. There are a variety of factors that will determine what is best for you. However, the decision to file a lawsuit or to settle remains with you, guided by our advice. In those cases in which a lawsuit is filed, the vast majority are settled before trial. Only a very small percentage of cases actually require a trial.
The insurance adjuster wants to talk to me about my claim. What should I do?
Insurance adjusters who are assigned to your case may want to talk to you about your car wreck claim. While most will be very friendly and personable, you should know that ultimately, their goal is to get you to settle for a low amount and to settle as quickly as possible. This is why you should seek legal advice from a South Carolina car wreck lawyer. A lawyer understands the tactics that an insurance adjuster may use in order to work in their best interests rather than yours, including getting you to say something that could be used against you.
You do not have to avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster, just be cautious about what you share. Keep the conversations to a minimum, sticking only to the basic facts about your car wreck claim. Do not offer more information than is necessary.
How long will my case take to settle?
When your case ultimately settles depends upon several factors. The most important factor is not until you are fully recovered medically. Only when your doctor releases you can you begin to settle your case.
Criminal Defense FAQs
What are the penalties for a first DUI offense in South Carolina?
The penalty for driving under the influence first offense is a fine and imprisonment of up to 30 days. There is no requirement for mandatory minimum imprisonment. The fines for DUI first are graduated based upon the blood alcohol level, in other words the higher the blood alcohol level the higher the fine. The fines start at $1,100.00 plus additional, significant court costs. Upon conviction or plea, your privilege to drive will be suspended for six months; however, you may be eligible for a special, restricted driver’s’ license for driving to and from work and/or school. Because of these penalties it is critical to speak with any attorney as soon after your arrest as possible so as to gain valuable information for the decisions you must make regarding your case.
What are the penalties for a second DUI offense in South Carolina?
The penalties for a second offense DUI are significantly more punitive than the punishment for a first offense. There is a fine of not less than $2,000.00 but no more than $5,100.00. Probably the more important punishment, in addition to the fine, is incarceration up to one year and a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty to a driving under the influence second charge must spend at least five days in jail. The five days cannot be suspended. Your license will be suspended for one year and there is no provision for any special, restricted license. Again the higher the breath alcohol reading, the higher the fine imposed. A conviction for driving under the influence second offense carries an additional condition. You will be required to install, at your expense, an interlock device on your motor vehicle. You will have to offer a clean breath sample into the device before the automobile’s ignition will function. If you have been drinking, the device will shut down the ignition system.
Will I have to serve jail time if convicted of a DUI charge?
Any conviction for driving under the influence carries the potential for imprisonment. A driving under the influence first conviction carries a sentence of no more than 30 days; however, no minimum imprisonment is required. On the other hand a conviction for a second offense carries a much longer sentence and requires minimum period of imprisonment. As set forth above, a second offense requires a minimum imprisonment of five days. For driving under the influence third offense, one must serve a minimum of sixty days and no more than 3 years imprisonment. Again, the higher the breath alcohol reading, the more the fine.
Do I have to take the sobriety test offered by the arresting officer?
You are not required to take any sobriety test offered by an arresting officer. You should cooperate with the officer in giving to him or her biographical information and logistical information; however, you may decline to take any sobriety test. Your declination, if you choose to do so, should be offered with respect. It is sometimes argued that a declination of sobriety test will almost guarantee an arrest; however it is common that most person offered a sobriety test are most likely to be arrested and therefore a declination of the sobriety test would appear to not significantly affect whether or not you are arrested.
Are there any penalties if I decline to take the roadside sobriety test?
There are no direct penalties for declination to sobriety tests. The arresting officer will most likely react negatively to your declination and you need to be prepared for his or her response.
Do I have to take the breath test (often referred to as the Datamaster test)?
You may decline the breath test once it is offered to you by the arresting officer. A declination of the breath test will result in what is described as an administrative suspension of your license for a period of six months. You may appeal this suspension without regard to your driving under the influence charge. In other words the administrative suspension would be appealed in a different manner and heard by a hearing officer, not a jury and the issue of whether you were impaired or not does not affect the administrative hearing. The administrative hearing officer would only hear relevant testimony concerning whether there was probable cause for your arrest, whether the breathalyzer or the data master machine (the machine that measures your breath alcohol) was working properly, whether you were offered the data master and whether the officer was competent to administer the test. It is important to note that once you refuse the data master, you have thirty days within which to request a hearing to review the administrative suspension of your license due to failure to take the datamaster test.
Are there penalties if I decline the breath test?
You may decline the breath test once it is offered to you by the arresting officer. A declination of the breath test will result in what is described as an administrative suspension of your license for a period of six months.
Can I obtain a South Carolina drivers license if my drivers license has been permanently revoked?
A conviction for driving under the influence fourth offense will result in what is described as a permanent revocation of your driver’s license. However the “permanent revocation” is misleading. South Carolina has statutory law that allows a person who has suffered a permanent revocation to seek a driver’s license after a sevenyear period, so long as that person has not received any other arrest for alcohol related matters and has no contact with the criminal justice system and who can meet other requirements as set forth by the statute. A competent attorney can assist you with overcoming a permanent revocation by following the statutory requirements in seeking a driver’s license.
What good can an attorney do if my breath test results were over the legal limit?
You may be asking do I need an attorney if my test results were over the legal limit. The answer is an emphatic yes. The breath alcohol reading is but one piece of a very complicated puzzle that the state must present in order to gain a conviction for a driving under the influence charge. Other critical factors that may assists in the defense of a person charged with driving under the influence who has rendered a test result over the legal limit would include: that person’s conduct on the video (the arresting officer is requires to video your arrest at the scene), that person’s conduct among or around witnesses who were with the person charged prior to the arrest, the officer’s conduct as depicted on the video, and the credibility of the parties involved. All of these elements are critical in the consideration by a jury of a driving under the influence charge; therefore, a test result over the legal limit does not preclude a jury from finding you not guilty of driving under the influence. A competent attorney with appropriate knowledge and trial experience can gather and present critical evidence that would allow a jury to see the entire picture of the case, rather than the single issue of the breath test reading.
How much does it costs to fight a South Carolina DUI?
David Blackwell will discuss your case with you and gather all of the facts and information surrounding your arrest. Upon review of the charge, the jurisdiction, and the facts surrounding the arrest, we will quote you a reasonable fee for our services. That fee will entitle you to have us represent you at every stage of the proceedings and ensure that you receive due process from the judicial system. Our fees include representation at an administrative hearing, if one is required.