Right after a serious car wreck is a lousy time to learn something new. Car crash victims are typically injured or mourning the loss of a loved one, plus they may be dealing with high medical bills, fighting a car insurance company, and without reliable transportation. On top of all that stress, most crash victims soon realize there’s a lot to learn about how accident claims work.
To make that process easier, this post gives an overview of the claims process for a car accident in South Carolina. But if you’re interested in a more detailed discussion of your case, contact us for a free consultation.
The Insurance Claim
In South Carolina, the driver who was at fault for the crash is legally responsible for the injuries and costs. To claim compensation from the at-fault driver, you would normally file a claim with their auto insurance company. You may also be able to make a claim on your own insurance if you have insurance that covers your situation, such as uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist or collision coverage.
If that insurance company offers a fair settlement—one that covers all of your costs and offers reasonable compensation for your injuries—that may be all you need to do. Be careful not to accept a settlement within the first few days after a crash, since some injuries aren’t apparent right away.
However, insurance companies may disagree about who was at fault for a crash. They may also pressure drivers to agree to things, make recordings or sign statements that get them out of paying. If that happens, you should talk to an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer. These are all signs that the insurance company isn’t going to pay without some pressure.
A lawsuit can apply that pressure. And there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of bringing a successful lawsuit, including:
- Document everything. Save all the paperwork related to the crash. That should include anything related to the accident, such an accident report, doctors’ records, even taxi receipts. If you took smartphone pictures at the scene or wrote down the names of witnesses, don’t delete them. All of this can be useful later to prove your case.
- Go to the doctor. Even if you’re able to walk away from a crash, you can sometimes sustain injuries that show up later. That’s particularly true for head injuries and damage to your neck and back. Going to the doctor gets you an expert opinion, it documents your injuries, and it prevents insurance companies from arguing that your injuries can’t be serious because you didn’t see a doctor right away.
- Talk to a lawyer about your rights. You don’t have to decide that you’re suing, or choose a lawyer, right away. But talking to a lawyer can at least help you get informed about your legal rights. This is especially important if you’re dealing with pressure or denied claims from an insurance company. Most South Carolina car crash attorneys, including us, offer free consultations, so you can get to know them and they can hear about your case in detail.
In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. That might change under some circumstances, though, so it’s always best to talk to an attorney, especially if considerable time has passed since the crash.
The Court Process
If you do decide to sue, make sure you pick a South Carolina lawyer you work well with, and who has experience in car wreck cases. This lawyer will be handling most of the case for you, so you should be able to trust them. Importantly, they will handle interactions with the car insurance companies, and sometimes health insurance as well, so you should be able to stop worrying about those calls.
Part of your job during this case will be to provide as much information as you can. That’s why saving all the documentation can be very useful. In addition to asking you for paperwork, your lawyer will probably ask you to describe your accident in as much detail as you can remember. If someone else was at the scene, they might want to interview that person as well.
Most car accident cases in South Carolina settle before trial. If that happens, your attorney will tell you how much money the other side is offering and give you their expert advice on whether to take it. However, if you do go to trial, you can expect to spend one to three days in court—in a complex or very serious case, maybe more.
Experience on Your Side
If you were involved in a South Carolina car wreck and you’re considering a lawsuit, don’t hesitate to call David Blackwell Law. We specialize in helping victims of serious accidents get the compensation they need, and we offer free, confidential consultations. To set one up, call us at (803) 285-0225 or send us a message online