What to do after being involved in a Kershaw County, SC auto accident
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in Kershaw County, it’s understandable that, at first, your head may be spinning, unsure of what to do. That’s perfectly fine. Collect yourself and process what happened. Once you’ve been able to do that, it’s time to start thinking clearly and, assuming you’re able to do so, take some action. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you as well as any passengers that are in the vehicle are alright. If you or anyone in the vehicle has sustained injuries, call emergency services immediately. At this stage, every second can matter and no time should be wasted.
If you have not suffered serious injuries, the next thing you need to do is try and steer yourself out of the lane of traffic, to a shoulder or nearby parking lot, or at the very least, turn on your hazard lights to make other drivers aware of the accident. This is critical because it is possible an oblivious driver could hit your disabled vehicle, making a bad situation much, much worse.
Though it may be normal to apologize after an accident, a kind of instinctive bit of good manners, do what you can to avoid it. There’s nothing wrong with checking on the other driver and making sure everyone is OK, but do not apologize or admit responsibility, especially if you were blameless in the crash. It’s possible that these apologies could later be used against you in a future claim for compensation.
Next, you need to start gathering information, as much as you possibly can. Get the names and contact information for anyone involved in the accident. Make sure to write down details of what happened from your perspective. Record your location, the time of day, who was around and the circumstances surrounding the collision, why you thought it happened and what the other driver appeared to do wrong. Now is also a good time to take pictures of the damage and the accident scene, again, as many details as possible can prove incredibly valuable later on. All this information can later be turned over to your auto accident attorney who can then begin assembling a personal injury case and have the information necessary to hit the ground running.
Should you see a doctor?
Many people think that they should only go see a doctor if they’ve suffered serious and obvious physical injuries. While it’s certainly true that you should see a doctor in these cases, it’s also true that doctors are important even if your injuries aren’t so obvious. Car accidents can be tricky things and can set in a motion a chain of events that leave people suffering from serious pain days or even weeks after the collision. The force involved in most accidents can cause internal damage, to your neck, back, spine and even brain. If you have been involved in a bad accident it can be a very good idea to go get checked out by a doctor even if you feel OK. A doctor may recognize early signs of neck injury, whiplash or traumatic brain injury that you could have overlooked.
How soon should you reach out to an auto accident attorney?
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, it’s important that you reach out to a skilled Kershaw County, SC auto accident attorney quickly. Timing is important for a number of reasons. First, there are deadlines that your attorney will know about that must be taken into consideration and the sooner you reach out to a lawyer the sooner he or she can begin keeping track of deadlines and ensure your case stays on track. Reaching out to an attorney soon after a wreck is also important because it allows the lawyer to begin gathering information related to the accident quickly. It’s a sad reality that evidence in an auto accident case has a way of disappearing and the sooner your lawyer is made aware of the incident, the sooner he or she can begin assembling the evidence needed to handle your case effectively.
Should you notify your insurance company?
Though you certainly don’t need to worry about contacting your insurance company right away if you’ve suffered injuries, it is something that needs to happen as soon as possible. Make sure you speak to someone directly, as you have an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company after being involved in an accident. Reporting the accident promptly allows the insurance company to begin gathering information quickly and preparing the strongest case possible. Waiting to report can be very risky and can even result in the loss of coverage for the accident.
What about a recorded statement?
If you’ve been injured in a Kershaw County, SC auto accident, it is likely that your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver will ask you to make a recorded statement. However, be warned, this can be very dangerous, even to give to your own insurance company. The reason this can be dangerous is that insurance adjusters understand their business and realize that their job is to ensure the value of any claim is as low as possible. It’s in their interest to minimize damages and deny coverage wherever possible. As a result, they are looking for flaws or inconsistencies in your story and could use the statement you give them to justify denying or minimizing a claim. Given this, you should always consult with an experienced Kershaw County, SC auto accident attorney before giving a recorded statement to an insurance company. These people are trained professionals and you should have some professional advice on your side before interacting with them.
What if the other driver is uninsured?
The sad fact is that an alarming amount of drivers in South Carolina lack proper insurance coverage. Though the law mandates it, some drivers simply refuse to comply, putting themselves and others at risk. If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may believe that you will be stuck with all the bills, unable to hold anyone accountable. Thankfully, that is not the case. Not only can you make a claim against the driver personally, but assuming you have sufficient coverage, your own insurance company can be held responsible for compensating you for the harm you’ve suffered. This is part of your uninsured or underinsured (UM or UIM) insurance coverage. If, for some reason, you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, then your only option is to personally sue the other driver, hoping that you can extract money from them directly to compensate you for your injuries.
What’s your case worth?
This is an incredibly common question in South Carolina car accident cases, but is unfortunately not an easy one to answer. Camden auto accident cases, like personal injury cases in general, depend greatly on the specific facts of your case, including how the accident happened, how the other driver behaved and exactly what injuries you suffered. Though there’s no clear formula for calculating the value of your case, there are factors you can look at to better understand the amount of compensation you might reasonably request. These factors include the total amount of your medical expenses, how much time you lost off work, the degree of fault of the other party, whether you suffered any permanent disability or disfigurement and whether there were any aggravating circumstances such as reckless speeding or drunk driving. Once your attorney better understands your case and the specifics of what happened, he or she will be able to give you a sense of what your claim may be worth.
What can you sue to recover?
If you’ve been involved in a Camden automobile accident you need to understand what things you are able to request compensation for. Most broadly, damages are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include things like property damages, rental and other alternate transportation costs, repair costs, medical bills, rehabilitation expenses and lost wages. These expenses are relatively easy to determine and usually involve looking at receipts and adding them up. Non-economic damages are those that that defy such easy tabulation. These include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium. These are determined through testimony from victims and loved ones or expert witnesses. These damages also tend to be subjective and difficult to estimate with any degree of certainty.
People often wonder if there are time limits when it comes to auto accident claims in South Carolina. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. The law has been written to require plaintiffs to file suit within a certain amount of time and, if they fail to do so, means losing the right to bring such claims in the future. In South Carolina the law says that accident victims have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for either personal injury or property damage. What happens if you miss the deadline and file suit three years and one day later? Your case will likely be thrown out of court, dismissed by a judge for not having been timely filed. Given this reality, it really is crucial that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible after a Kershaw County, South Carolina auto accident. Let your lawyer worry about deadlines and statutes of limitation so you can focus your energy on recovering.