Legal Information on South Carolina Law

What To Do After a Car Accident

There are four main phases to a car accident. The overall objective is to make sure everyone is safe, speak to a lawyer, speak to the police, then resolve the dispute. 

In this article you will learn:

  • What you should do first after being in a car accident
  • The phases of a car accident case
  • How an attorney can help with your car accident

Do you have an auto accident case?

Car Accident Cases

Car accidents may seem straightforward, but the smallest detail could complicated your claim. Do you have medical expenses? Did you suffer a physical or emotional injury that will continue to affect you in the future? 

Your only course of action is not simply to file a claim with your car insurance. Your insurance company will look out for themselves, offering the best outcome for them. You may need the help of an attorney to look out for your interests and get you the best outcome possible.

After a car accident there are so many things to consider, but the first of which must be getting medical attention if you have suffered any physical or emotional damage. Everything can be addressed with the help of an experienced attorney, including repayment of medical expenses. Don’t want to get help until after starting a legal case!

“When you are in a car accident, the first thing to do is to make sure that everyone is safe or in stable condition. If someone is injured, then call for emergency medical service.”

Phases of a Car Accident Case

1. Medical

When you are in a car accident, the first thing to do is to make sure that everyone is safe or in stable condition. If someone is injured, then call for emergency medical services. Do your best to be courteous to the other driver, even if you weren’t at fault. A little bit of kindness goes a long way in these matters.

2. The next step is to speak to your lawyer.

If some is badly injured do not speak to the police until such time as you have spoken to your lawyer. Tell the officer you wish to speak to your lawyer before issuing a statement and schedule a time to speak to the officer at a later date with your attorney present. Be courteous to the officer — this will go a long way. The statement you will give is a legal document and if someone is badly injured and you are at fault it can be used against you. Hence the reason for speaking to a lawyer first.

If you are unable to speak to a lawyer or were involved in a minor accident, then be truthful when speaking to the police. Use your phone to take plenty of pictures. If you have a camera, take video of the accident site and your car.

If necessary, your lawyer will gather evidence of the crash site, speeds based on skid marks, or other traffic conditions. If there is a video of the intersection your lawyer will review that evidence to determine accurately who was at fault. All this evidence will be used to build your case for damages at a trial.

If you have suffered any medical injuries your lawyer will talk to experts in the medical field and life care planners to determine how badly your life has been affected by your injury. The object of the law is to make you whole again as though the accident never happened. After interviewing expert medical professionals your lawyer will compute the fair amount of damages you should be entitled to.

The law is complex and there are sometimes issues of causation and fair value for injuries which affect the value at trial or in a settlement. Your attorney will be able to give you an idea of the type of compensation you may be looking at.

3. The Statements:

Next you will have to give several statements, if you haven’t already. The first is a statement to the police. Law enforcement will use it to help them determine if you or the other driver(s) is at fault. The goal is to be truthful but not to incriminate yourself if you did something wrong. Depending on the scope of the accident, your lawyer will be there with you and advise you in depth about making the statement as it will be used at trial.

Next you will need to issue statements to every insurance company involved. They will want to know what happened and who is at fault. Ultimately, the insurance company will have to decide – do they accept fault, or do they want to challenge your case in court. If they accept fault an offer to settle the case will usually follow. If they don’t accept fault you may not hear back from them immediately and you need to talk to your lawyer as a lawsuit may follow.

4. Resolution:

Next, you will have to decide: do you want money now, or possibly get more money after trial. The advice of your lawyer is helpful because of the time value of money. Insurance companies, when they know they are likely to lose in court, make settlement offers. If you try to deal with insurance companies without a lawyer involved, remember – that as soon as lawyers are involved the amount you get paid usually increases. This is due to the fact that it shows insurance companies you are not letting them, and their large company, take advantage of you. You should fight to get paid what you deserve.

If you take the settlement upfront you get paid quickly. If you decide to take it to trial then your lawyer will hire experts to testify at trial as to the driving conditions, will present evidence from the crash site, medical records, expert medical doctors may testify.

After the lawyer has gathered all this evidence the defense will present evidence to counter your theory. Then the judge will instruct the jury on the law and the rules regarding fault for a particular situation. The judge does not determine fault. The judge tells the jury what the law is regarding fault, and the jury decides if this situation falls in that category.

Then the big day comes, and you find out what the jury thinks of your case. If there are any problems the case may get appealed. In traffic instances this is rare as the law is usually well settled, but it does happen. Once the appeals are exhausted which can take 1 to 2 years you get your money in full. If the injury has returned a verdict awarding monetary damages, this amount will draw interest while the case is on appeal. The legal rate of interest in South Carolina for 2019 is 9.50%.

Ready for help with your car accident?

Don’t take on the stress of handling a car accident on your own when you don’t have to. Focus on getting better, and leave the legal battle to your attorney. 

An experienced car accident lawyer will lead you through the process, communicate with your insurance company, and negotiate the most favorable outcome possible.

Ready To Take Action?

It won’t cost you anything to speak with an attorney about your case.