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Accidents happen. It’s a fact of life. But too often, these accidents are actually caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness — like with car accidents.
In 2018 alone, there was a motor vehicle collision every 3.7 minutes in South Carolina. In these car crashes, 1 person was killed every 8.5 hours and 1 person was injured every 9.1 minutes. Overall, 58,053 were hurt and 1,036 died on South Carolina roadways that year.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover the full amount of money that you are entitled to under South Carolina law.
At Derrick Law Office, we have substantial experience representing clients in a range of personal injury matters, from dog bites to motorcycle accidents to slip and falls to car accidents. For each of our clients, we aggressively advocate to help them achieve the best possible outcome. We offer free initial consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Common Causes of South Carolina Auto Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can happen for any number of reasons, including poor road conditions and mechanical failure. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the single most common cause of crashes is driver error. According to this federal agency, 94% of all motor vehicle collisions are attributable to something that a driver did — or failed to do.
As Simpsonville car accident lawyers, we regularly represent clients who have been injured when another driver makes a mistake. We commonly see accidents caused by:
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs (DUI)
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Aggressive and reckless driving
- Drowsy driving
When someone is hurt in one of these car accidents, they may suffer a range of serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Lacerations and bruises
In cases where a person dies as a result of a car accident, their loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These types of personal injury cases allow certain family members to recover for their losses associated with their loved one’s death.
In addition to physical injuries, many people who are hurt in a car crash suffer emotional distress. Being in a collision can be incredibly traumatic, and may result in mental health issues, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.
A skilled personal injury attorney will work to ensure that you get compensation for the full range of your injuries. This includes making sure that you don’t just get money for your past medical bills, but for future medical treatment as well.
For victims of an automobile accident, the costs rapidly pile up:
Rental car costs
Vehicle repair or replacement costs
Home and vehicle modifications for long-term disability
Funeral costs and survivor benefits
Can I File a Lawsuit?
In South Carolina, personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is a legal concept that means that a person failed to act with the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. If you can prove that the other driver was negligent, then you will be able to recover for your losses. To do so, you will need to prove four things (elements):
- Duty: the other driver owed you a duty to use reasonable care.
- Breach: the other driver breached (violated) that duty.
- Causation: their breach was the proximate or but-for cause of the accident.
- Damages: you were injured as a result.
For example, another driver ran a red light and t-boned your car, causing you to suffer multiple fractures. They were negligent because they (1) owed you a duty of care to follow traffic laws and drive safely; (2) breached that duty by running a red light; (3) the accident would not have happened but for them running the red light; and (4) you were hurt in the crash. In this situation, you would be able to file a lawsuit with the help of a personal injury law firm.
In some cases, it isn’t as obvious that one driver was at fault for the crash. In the state of South Carolina, even if you were partially to blame for a car accident, you can still recover for your losses — as long as you were not more than 50% at fault. This is known as comparative negligence.
Under this legal theory, a person who is 50% or less responsible for a collision is still entitled to compensation for their damages. However, their total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that they were at fault. If you suffered $100,000 in damages and were found to be 20% at fault for the t-bone accident described above, then your total recovery would be reduced by 20% ($20,000) to $80,000.
In a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory damages, as they are intended to compensate you for your losses. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury lawsuits, as they are designed to punish intentional or reckless conduct (instead of negligence).
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for tangible losses and are often fairly easy to prove using invoices, bills, and pay stubs. They include things like lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, rental car expenses, future medical treatment, and reduced earning capacity.
By contrast, non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for intangible losses and can be more difficult to prove. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. A South Carolina personal injury lawyer can put together a strong case for this type of damages based on their experience with related legal matters and knowledge of jury verdicts in similar cases.
What Should I Do After a Greenville County Car Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident in Greenville County, the first thing that you should do is seek medical attention, even if you think that you were not badly hurt. Many times, injuries may not show up for hours or even days after your collision. Getting checked out by a doctor right away can help you get the proper diagnosis and treatment for your injuries.
Next, if you are able to do so, start gathering information. Talk to the other driver, and get their name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number. Do not admit fault or tell them that you are sorry. Anything that you say to the other driver could be used against you to undermine your claim.
At the same time, get the name and contact information of any witnesses. If the police arrive at the scene, request a copy of the police report. If you can, take photos and/or videos of the scene and your injuries.
You may be approached by an insurance adjuster, either at the scene or through a phone call afterward. While the adjuster may seem nice, remember that their goal isn’t to make sure that you get the most compensation for your injuries — it’s to deny or minimize your claim in order to maximize the insurance company’s profits. Do not give a statement or sign anything that they offer to you.
Instead, reach out to a personal injury attorney in Simpsonville, SC as soon as possible. During a free consultation, they will listen to your story and provide you with legal advice about your rights and options for moving forward with your case. Your lawyer can handle all communications with the insurance company for you — and fight for your right to full compensation.
The Driver Who Hit Me Doesn’t Have Insurance. What Can I Do?
In the state of South Carolina, all drivers are required to carry auto insurance in order to operate a motor vehicle. However, drivers are only required to carry a relatively low amount of car insurance: $25,000 per person and $50,000 for all persons in bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage. In addition, drivers must carry uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance coverage that will protect you in the event that you are in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance. It allows you to file a claim with your own insurance company to recover compensation for your losses in a crash with an uninsured driver. This type of coverage is required in South Carolina, at a minimum of 25/50/25 (just like regular automobile insurance).
A similar type of coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, protects you if you are in a crash with a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your losses. For example, if you suffer $100,000 in bodily injury and the driver only has the state minimum coverage of $25,000, this policy would kick in to cover the rest (up to policy limits). You are not required to carry underinsured motorist coverage in South Carolina.
UM/UIM claims may seem less complicated because you are filing a claim with your own insurer, rather than a different driver’s insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and even your own insurer may fight your claim. A skilled Simpsonville car wreck lawyer can help you file a claim and advocate for you throughout the process.
Will I Have to Go to Court If I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are settled without anyone ever stepping foot in a courtroom. While it is possible that your case will go to trial, the likelihood is that your claim will be settled well before that occurs.
After a car accident, your personal injury lawyer will draft what is known as a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter sets out the facts of the case, the legal reason why their insured was at fault, and a demand for damages. This typically starts the negotiation process, where the insurance company makes a counteroffer and each side goes back and forth until a settlement is reached.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then your lawyer will likely file a lawsuit. This must be done within the statute of limitations, which is 3 years for personal injury cases in South Carolina. Negotiations typically continue throughout the legal process, up to the eve or morning of trial.
In some cases, going to trial may be necessary for you to get the compensation that you are entitled to under the law. Your lawyer will advise you of the risks and benefits of taking your case to trial and will use their experience in the courtroom to put forth a strong argument to the jury.
How Can I Find a Car Accident Lawyer Near Me?
Most people are not involved in lots of car or truck accidents. As a result, when they are injured in a crash, they may find themselves frantically searching the internet for a “car accident lawyer near me.” In Simpsonville and the surrounding areas, you can find a car accident attorney by following these steps.
First, go ahead and google, “car accident lawyer near me Simpsonville.” Make a list of the law firms that pop up, and start to do research. Look for things such as the experience of the firm’s attorneys, whether they focus on personal injury law and their general reputation in the community. Ideally, you want an attorney who dedicates their practice to helping injury victims, and who has significant experience handling cases like yours.
Second, call several law firms to set up an appointment. Most personal injury law firms will offer a free initial case evaluation so that you can get an understanding of your rights and options. If they don’t, then you may not want to work with that law firm.
Third, talk to the lawyers. Ask about their fee structure: will you be required to pay money upfront, or do they offer a contingency fee arrangement? Do they have any personal experience with being in an accident? Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? Will the lawyer handle the case themselves, or pass it off to a junior attorney?
These factors are all important when deciding which lawyer to pick. You want to go into your case with confidence, trusting that the lawyer that you pick understands you and will fight for you. So after you do your first google of “car accident lawyer near me,” spend some time doing your research — you’ll be happy that you did later.
In South Carolina, the statistics tell a sobering story:*
There is a traffic collision every 3.7 minutes
One person is injured in a traffic collision every 8.5 minutes
One person dies in a traffic collision every 8.6 hours.
Total number of deaths on South Carolina roads (2016): 1,015
Number of DUI-related traffic deaths on South Carolina roads (2016): 331
*Sources: South Carolina Department of Public Safety/NHTSA
How We Can Help
Being in a car accident can be incredibly traumatic. In addition to physical injuries, you may be overwhelmed with financial stress and worry about the future. We are here to help.
The Derrick Law Office is dedicated to helping injury victims get the compensation that they need to move forward with their lives. Based in Simpsonville, we represent clients throughout the region, including Mauldin, Fountain Hills, and the upstate South Carolina region. Our law firm represents all personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless we achieve a settlement or verdict for you.