Car Accident Lawyer
How can a Greenville, SC car wreck attorney help?
If you’ve been involved in a Greenville, SC car accident, it can be confusing to know where to turn for help. You’re likely still busy trying to recover from your injuries as well as coping with the financial toll that the accident has taken, in terms of time off work and medical expenses. Turning the stress of your car accident claim over to an experienced car accident attorney can be a tremendous help, relieving you of at least one burden.
So why can be it beneficial to turn to a skilled car accident attorney to handle your case? For one thing, the car wreck attorney has been down the road before and knows the ins and outs of the process. Understanding how to behave in court, when to file documents, how to lay out a convincing argument, how to work with opposing counsel, how to negotiate with insurance companies and how to bring a case before a judge are all learned skills, not something just anyone off the street would understand. Having an experienced professional managing your case is a tremendous benefit in terms of relieving you of the burden and also increasing your odds of reaching a successful conclusion to your case.
What should you do after a Greenville car wreck?
The very first thing you should do after being involved in a Greenville, SC auto accident is assess your medical condition. If you’ve suffered serious injuries, call emergency medical personnel immediately. If your injuries are less critical but obvious, it may be best to have someone take you to the hospital. Only if you are sure your injuries are minor should you refrain from seeking medical help right away. Remember that even seemingly minor accidents can cause serious trouble, such as neck, back, spinal and brain injuries that aren’t obvious to the naked eye.
After assessing your injuries, make sure your vehicle is in a safe location. Are you out of the lane of traffic? If not, see if you can get yourself to a safer place, such as a nearby parking lot or even the shoulder of the road. This avoids the risk that you are involved in a second accident, which can compound your misfortune.
Next, you’ll need to exchange information with the other driver. Get the other person’s name and contact details as well as their insurance information. Also write down the names and contact details for any witnesses who have seen the accident. It’s important to have as much support as possible should you file a car accident claim and third party witnesses can be a tremendous help in bolstering your case.
After exchanging information, it’s time to take a second and write down some notes. Either jot them down on paper or type them on your phone. Record details of where and when the accident happened, who was involved, why it occurred, what are some details of the accident scene, how were the cars positioned, what damage resulted. Write down anything you think might be useful for your attorney to know. Though you may think you’ll remember all the details, the truth is that the rush of adrenaline will fade quickly, as will your memory of the event.
Are pictures of the car accident important?
The short answer: yes. It really is true that pictures are worth a thousand words. Rather than simply describe the incident to an insurance adjuster or a jury, being able to show them pictures can go a long way to improving the odds of your case succeeding. Showing someone evidence of the physical harm you suffered as well as the damage done to your vehicle is incredibly compelling. You don’t have to worry about doing a professional photo shoot, just take your camera (or, let’s be honest), your smartphone and take a few pictures. See if you can get a shot of the accident scene to put the crash into some kind of context. Take a picture of your vehicle and the vehicle of the other driver, being sure to focus on areas of damage. Finally, if you’ve suffered any physical injuries, record those as well.
The importance of seeking medical attention immediately
It really is important to seek medical help quickly. To delay increases the risk that your injuries could be exacerbated, something that will make your already bad problems ever worse. Additionally, delaying in seeking medical treatment can make it easy for the insurance company to undermine your claim, arguing that if you had been badly hurt you would’ve sought help immediately. Insurance companies might also use a delay as evidence that you were injured elsewhere, at home or at work, anywhere but in the car accident. By seeking medical care early you can make it much more difficult for the insurance companies to trot out these arguments and strengthen your case.
Common injuries associated with car accidents
Car accidents can result in a wide array of injuries. Examples of severe injuries include comas, permanent disability, paralysis, spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury. Serious harms include things like fractured bones, neck and back pain, muscle damage and less severe brain injury. More minor damage includes things like bumps, bruises, cuts and sprains. Though there are clear differences between these levels of injuries, all are worthy of compensation.
Why you (almost always) should not accept the insurance company’s first offer
An important part of any South Carolina car accident case is dealing with the insurance company of the responsible driver. Though a lawyer should always be prepared to take a case to trial, it may be better for the client to work out a fair settlement in advance, saving the time and money associated with a protracted legal battle. As a result, it’s crucial that the person handling your case understand how to negotiate, improving your odds of coming out ahead of the insurance company.
Though specific negotiating tactics and strategies will depend entirely on the facts of your case, one general rule worth repeating is that it is seldom in your best interest to accept the insurance company’s first offer. For one thing, in any negotiation it is generally true that someone’s first offer is likely their lowest. It makes sense, you won’t start off by coming in at the top of your range, you’ll start low and give yourself room to move up. Insurance adjusters understand this basic premise of negotiating and it is all but guaranteed that the first offer they make is not the best they’re capable of making.
Another reason to delay accepting an insurance company’s first offer is because if you’ve been injured it is often wise to wait and see how you heal. It may be that subsequent surgeries are needed or that rehabilitation will be required down the road. If you made the mistake of jumping at the insurance company’s first offer, you won’t be able to include these costs. That means any subsequent medical expenses that are incurred after you’ve accepted the settlement offer will be out of your own pocket.
What happens if you are partially responsible for the accident?
If you were involved in a Greenville, South Carolina auto accident it is possible that you may be found partially responsible for the crash. What happens then? Will your claim be tossed out of court because of your shared responsibility? Thankfully, no. This is because of South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence laws. The law in South Carolina says that a plaintiff is able to collect damages in a case so long as the plaintiff’s negligence is less than or equal to that of all the defendants.
So what does this mean in practice? It means that so long as a plaintiff is found to be 50% or less at fault, he or she can collect damages from another party. A good example is if A and B are in a crash. B was speeding and generally behaving recklessly. A’s brake lights weren’t working and A was slowing down when B rear-ended A. B was clearly at fault for the crash, but A is somewhat responsible too. A jury ends up deciding that while B is 90% at fault, A is 10% to blame. If the jury awards A $50,000 in damages, A will only collect $45,000. The reason is that the remaining $5,000 is seen as A’s share of the overall harm. The verdict must be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility.
How important is it to act fast?
It is absolutely critical to move quickly if you’ve been involved in a Greenville, SC car accident case. The first reason that it’s so important to act fast is that evidence has a habit of disappearing. The longer you wait to reach out to an attorney, the greater the chance that witnesses move or change telephone numbers, that reports disappear, that medical records are deleted or that some other crucial piece of evidence gets lost. By reaching out to a lawyer early, you can ensure that he or she investigates your case quickly while the details are still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Another reason why moving fast is important is that there are legal limits (known as statutes of limitation) that require plaintiffs to file cases within a certain period of time. These laws say that if a plaintiff fails to take action within the prescribed timeframe, the case will be barred from court, meaning there is no ability to sue and recover damages.
What is the timeframe in South Carolina? The law says that plaintiffs must file a case for personal injury within three years of the date of the accident. The same rule applies to cases concerning property damage. That means you have three years from the date the accident occurred to file a case in court.
Everyone knows how slow the court system is, so do these rules mean that your case must be completed within 3 years? No. The law just requires that your case be filed. So long as the first step has been taken, it doesn’t matter if the case takes longer than three years to reach its conclusion.
What happens if you fail to act in time? If you don’t file your case within three years of the date of the accident, it is likely that the judge assigned will dismiss your claim, denying you a chance to hold the defendant responsible for the harm he or she caused. The law is clear that failing to file a case within the allotted time bars the case from court. This rule applies even in tragic cases or cases where the defendant is clearly to blame. It’s for this reason that timing is critical in South Carolina car accident cases.