What should you do after an auto accident in SC?
Being involved in an auto accident is, at best, an aggravating and inconvenient experience and, at worst, a life-altering tragedy.
There may be property damage to your vehicle, personal injuries to yourself or others in your car, hospital stays or doctor’s appointments, lost time from work, and then you must deal with insurance companies who will do everything possible to not pay your claim or to get you to agree to less than your claim is worth.
It is a frustrating process, but you don’t have to (and should not attempt to) do it alone. If you need help getting full and fair compensation for your injuries after an auto accident in SC, call Attorney Johnny Gardner now at (843) 248-7135 or contact us through our website.
Below, I will cover some of the basics of what you should do after an auto accident and the claims process in SC.
What to Do After an Auto Accident in SC
What you do in the first moments after an auto accident can be critical when it comes time to settle your auto accident claim – did the responding officer get complete and accurate information? Does your attorney have the evidence you will need to present to the insurance company like photos of the accident site, vehicles, and injuries? Did you seek medical attention immediately?
At the Scene of the Crash
Immediately after an auto accident, your first concern should be getting medical attention for yourself, your passengers, and anyone else who was involved in the accident, if needed.
If it is safe to do so, you should also preserve any evidence at the accident site that you may need later to prove (or disprove) liability and damages. For example:
- Photos of any damage to the vehicles,
- Photos of any injuries to yourself, your passengers, or others involved in the accident,
- Names and contact information of any witnesses (the responding officer may or may not take down this information), and
- Photos of the roadway or the area of the crash that show skid marks, the position of the vehicles, or damage to fixtures.
When the responding officer arrives, calmly let them know what happened and ensure that they have complete and accurate information about how the accident happened.
Although their accident report will not be admissible as evidence in court, 1) the officer will rely on the information in the report when testifying later, and 2) insurance adjusters and attorneys will rely on the information in the report to predict what the officer’s testimony will be.
The responding officer will most likely give you a green piece of paper titled “FR-10.” You’ll need to give this paper to your insurance agent, provide it to your attorney, and you may need to use the information on the form to get a copy of your accident report.
If you or your passengers are injured, seek medical attention immediately. If EMS recommends that you go to the ER to be checked out, go. If the ER doctors or your personal physician recommend follow-up visits or follow-up treatment, do it.
If you delay seeking medical attention and you later discover injuries or if injuries you thought were no big deal get worse, the insurance company will attempt to use your delay to deny your claim or to accuse you of faking or exaggerating your injuries.
Get yourself checked out immediately after the accident.
Phone Calls from the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
You will most likely receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company soon after the accident.
Although they might sound friendly and helpful, the insurance adjuster is not your friend, and they are not trying to help you. They want you to give them a statement and answer questions that will allow them to either deny your claim or limit the amount that they must pay for your claim later.
You should notify your insurance company of the accident, do not give any statements or even have a conversation with the other driver’s insurance company, and let them know that your attorney will contact them.
The Auto Accident Claims Process in SC
If you are injured in an auto accident that was caused by someone else, you get paid, right? Not necessarily… the insurance company for the other driver will attempt to deny or limit your claim any way that they can.
You must prove negligence on the part of the other driver, you must prove damages that are caused by the other driver’s negligence, and the insurance adjuster needs to understand that you will file a lawsuit and take your case to trial if they do not pay full and fair compensation.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Auto Accident Claim?
There are different types of insurance claims. For example, property damage to your vehicle should be handled by a different insurance adjuster than personal injury claims, and the property damage claim can often be settled without the assistance of an attorney.
You may also be able to collect the “personal injury protection,” PIP, or MedPay coverage from your own insurance company without the assistance of an attorney.
The personal injury claim, however, should be handled by your personal injury attorney, and insurance companies are not likely to offer full compensation to someone who does not have an attorney. What goes into settling a personal injury claim after an auto accident?
Settling a Personal Injury Claim
Before demanding payment from the other driver’s insurance company, your attorney should ensure that either 1) you have finished treating for all injuries, or 2) your future costs for treatment can be accurately predicted.
Depending on the type and extent of your injuries, your attorney may also retain one or more expert witnesses who can provide consultation and testimony as to:
- Liability (an accident reconstructionist, for example),
- Mental or emotional damages (if you have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the accident, for example),
- The nature and extent of your injuries,
- The costs of any future treatment that may be necessary,
- The amount of lost wages if you are unable to return to work (an economist, for example), or
- The cost of long-term care, medical equipment, and other needs for permanent disability (life-care planners).
Once your attorney has identified all possible sources of recovery (all defendants who were negligent and all insurance policies that are “on the hook”), we will prepare and send a demand letter that explains what happened and the evidence proving that the other driver was responsible for the accident.
Your demand letter will also include the amount of damages that you are claiming, supporting medical records and documentation, and a demand for payment that takes into account pain and suffering, other non-economic damages, and punitive damages when appropriate.
But what if they still don’t pay?
Auto Accident Lawsuits in SC
If the insurance company does not pay your claim, or if they make an offer that is not full and fair compensation under the circumstances, your attorney will most likely file a lawsuit.
After filing suit, the claim can still be settled (and often is) at any time before trial, during trial, or even while a case is on appeal. Insurance companies may refuse to pay because:
- They believe they can prove that their insured was not negligent,
- They believe that your claim is more than a jury would give to you,
- They intend to pay later but they are going to delay as long as possible, or
- There are legal issues that need to be decided by the court or by a jury.
If your auto accident attorney has a track record of settling their cases for low-ball offers, you can bet the insurance company is going to make a low-ball offer and not take any threats of trial seriously.
On the other hand, if your auto accident attorney has a track record of trying cases to a jury when the insurance company doesn’t pay, the insurance company is more likely to make a fair offer or accept a fair demand from your attorney to avoid the expense of a trial.
What should you do after an auto accident in SC?
If you are injured, call a personal injury attorney immediately, before talking to insurance adjusters or making any statements.
Auto Accident Attorney in Conway, SC
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Conway or Myrtle Beach, SC, consult with an experienced trial lawyer immediately who can help you to gather the evidence you need to prove liability and damages, to settle your claim for full and fair compensation, and to try your case to a jury if the insurance company doesn’t pay.
Call Johnny Gardner Law now at 843-248-7135 or send us an email through our website to find out how we can help.