How do you settle an auto accident claim in SC?
If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, once the dust settles, you are probably wondering, “How do I get compensated for all this?” You’ve got medical bills, property damage, you’ve lost time from work, you are suffering from your injuries and the trauma of the crash, and you need to get paid as soon as possible…
You may be able to settle your car accident claim quickly, but, in many cases, it might take some time. Below, we will go over the basics of how to settle an auto accident claim in SC, including:
- Determining whether you have a valid claim,
- Investigation of the accident,
- Demand letters and negotiations,
- Litigation and discovery, and
- Trial when the insurance company refuses to pay.
How to Settle an Auto Accident Claim in SC
The first question is always, “Do you have a valid claim?”
If the other driver’s negligence caused the crash, if you were injured or there were other damages the other driver must compensate you for, and if there is a valid source of recovery, you probably have a valid claim, and you should contact an auto accident attorney immediately if you haven’t already done so.
If the crash was caused by the other driver’s negligence, gross negligence, or intentional conduct, they are responsible to you for all damage that was caused.
If you caused the accident, you may be liable to them for any damage that you caused.
If you partially caused the accident, you may still be able to recover under SC’s comparative negligence rule – if a jury finds that you were 50% or less at fault, you can recover damages, but they are reduced by your percentage of fault. If you were 50% or more at fault, you cannot recover damages.
You must have injuries, property damage, lost wages, or some type of financial loss to justify filing a claim, and, if a personal injury lawyer is helping you, your damages must be significant enough to justify filing the lawsuit and paying their attorney fees.
If you are not sure whether your damages justify filing a lawsuit, call us and we will provide a free consultation and case review.
A Source of Recovery
In most car wreck cases, there will be one or more insurance policies to cover your damages. Even in a single-car crash or situations where the at-fault driver does not have insurance, there may be insurance coverage through your own policy’s uninsured and underinsured coverage, third-party policies, or other sources of recovery.
Again, if you aren’t sure, call a Conway auto accident lawyer who can investigate your case and determine the possible sources of recovery.
What is the Process to Settle an Auto Accident Claim?
So, you have a valid case, and you are ready to settle your auto accident claim. Now what?
You may not be surprised to learn that the other driver’s insurance company is not going to just pay you the full value of your case. They will do everything possible to pay you nothing or to pay you the least amount that they can get away with – especially if you attempt to contact them without an attorney.
When your attorney contacts them, 1) they know that you know what damages you are entitled to, 2) they can’t bullsh** you about liability anymore, and 3) there is the threat of a jury trial if they do not pay full and fair compensation.
Investigation, Demand Letter, and Negotiations
Before sending a demand letter to the insurance company, your attorney must investigate your case, which could include:
- Reviewing all potential evidence in your case – witness interviews, accident reports, MAIT reports, photos or video of the accident scene and vehicles, and your medical records.
- Establishing liability – did the responding officer write a ticket to the other driver? Was there evidence of intoxication? If the officer did not write a ticket, can we establish liability through your testimony, the testimony of witnesses, or an accident reconstructionist’s report?
- Retain and consult with any necessary experts – although expert witnesses are not needed in every case, you may need an accident reconstructionist, medical experts, vocational experts, an economist, or a life care planner to establish liability and the full amount of damages you are entitled to.
- Injuries – before demanding a settlement from the insurance company, we need to be sure that you have either finished treating your injuries or we have an expert opinion on what your future medical costs will be.
Demand Letter and Negotiations
In many cases, we will send a demand letter with supporting documentation to the insurance company once the investigation is complete. Depending on the case, we may negotiate with the insurance company for a time before filing a lawsuit.
When we are sure the insurance company is not going to pay, then we file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Litigation and Trial
Once we file suit, the discovery process begins, and we can gather more evidence of liability and damages through:
- Depositions of key witnesses,
- Interrogatories (written questions the other side must answer),
- Requests to produce (written requests for documents, photos, videos, or other types of evidence that the other side must produce), and
- Requests to admit (Statements related to damages or liability that the other side must admit or deny).
In many cases, mediation is mandatory before the case goes to trial, and settlement negotiations will continue – the case can be settled at any point through the end of a trial and even while on appeal.
If the insurance company does not pay the full value of your case, we will pick a jury, present your evidence to them, and ask them to force the defendant to pay.
Although most cases will settle before trial, trials are necessary from time to time and, if your attorney is not willing and able to try a case to a jury, you are less likely to get a full and fair settlement from the insurance company.
So, how do you settle an auto accident claim? Investigate, document everything, demand payment, and be prepared to file a lawsuit and try your case to a jury when necessary…
Auto Accident Lawyers in Conway, SC
If you are hurt in an auto accident caused by another driver 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.