Car Accident Lawyer in Columbia, SC
Do you need a Columbia Car accident lawyer?
If, like so many other people, you had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and were involved in a Columbia, SC auto accident, you may not know what you should do first. It can be a confusing time and your mind is likely racing a million miles per hour. Take a deep breath and take stock of your situation. First things first, are you alright? Are your passengers alright? Make absolutely sure that no one needs to receive medical attention before doing anything else. If someone is seriously injured or may be seriously injured, immediately call emergency services. Timing matters after an auto accident and action should be taken as soon as possible. One first step you can take is speaking with a Car Wreck Lawyer in Columbia, SC about your case.
Assuming everyone is alright, you need to make sure that you get yourself out of harm’s way. Either move your car to the shoulder of the road or a nearby parking lot or, at the very least, turn on your hazard lights to warn oncoming vehicles of the accident.
Once you feel sufficiently secure, it’s time to start gathering information. Start by getting the names and contact information for anyone involved in the wreck. Exchange insurance information and other details with the other driver. Get the names and contact details for anyone who may have witnessed the accident. Also, while the accident is still fresh in your mind, jot down some notes about exactly what happened, how the vehicles were positioned and what may have led to the accident. These details have a way of becoming foggy as time passes, so it’s best to get as much down on paper as you can. Finally, assuming it’s safe to do so, use your phone to take pictures of the damage and the accident scene. It’s really true when they say pictures are worth 1,000 words. It is much easier to show insurance claims adjusters or jurors damage than it is to explain it.
It is crucial that you and any injured passenger seek medical attention immediately after any serious wreck. This is true even if you do not believe you have suffered serious injuries. Auto accidents can be deceptive in that not all injuries are immediately obvious or visible. Serious harm can go unnoticed by untrained eyes and end up causing real harm down the road. Examples of this include whiplash, neck pain, back pain, sprained muscles and traumatic brain injuries. If your accident was serious, it may be worth your time to go get yourself checked out even if you feel fine, letting a doctor examine you and notice things that may have slipped right past you.
When do you need an car accident lawyer?
Though no one wants to feel rushed after a Columbia, South Carolina auto accident, the reality is that time is of the essence. There are deadlines to be remembered and evidence to locate and gather. Given the tasks that need to be accomplished before a successful auto accident case can move forward, it is important that you reach out to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. The sooner the attorney can begin working on the case, the sooner you can receive the compensation you deserve. Also, the sooner the car accident lawyer can begin working, the more likely he or she will be able to locate necessary evidence and get a hold of witnesses, both of which have a habit of disappearing as time goes by.
Do you have to tell your insurance company?
The short answer to this is yes. If you’ve been involved in a Columbia, SC auto accident case, you have a legal obligation to get in touch with your insurance company and cooperate in their investigation. The sooner you do this the better, for yourself and for the company. Delaying can only cause problems, not only because it makes it even more difficult to conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, but also because your claim might be denied by the insurance company. Failing to timely report an accident puts your entire case at risk and may result in a denial of coverage.
Be careful what you say
Though you have an obligation to cooperate in the investigation, you do not have to provide a written or recorded statement right away. Be very careful here as the insurance company or the other party’s insurance company will likely push you to make such a statement quickly. It is almost never advisable to make such a statement without first consulting with an experienced South Carolina auto accident attorney. Your car accident lawyer can explain what things to say and what things to avoid saying, ensuring that your case is as well positioned as possible. Insurance claims adjusters are professionals and can ask questions that are confusing or designed to trap you into giving responses that undermine your case. As a result, it’s important that you go into these conversations armed with information and have thought through what you will say before being asked.
How much is your case worth?
Everyone wants to know what their case is worth and, while this is perfectly understandable, it is also not easy to answer. The total value of an auto accident claim depends on a multitude of factors and is almost always case specific. The details of your particular case, whether the driver was speeding or drunk, whether you were partially responsible, whether your injuries were minor or severe, etc., can all have importance impacts on the ultimate value of your case. Estimating without knowing the specifics of your case is impossible, as no simple formula exists.
To better understand what compensation you can receive from a Columbia, South Carolina auto accident claim, let’s discuss damages. There are two categories of damage: economic and non-economic. Put simply, economic damages are those things that can be easily calculated, such as medical bills, repair costs, property damage, time off work, etc. Non-economic damages are those that can’t be estimated simply. These damages include things like pain and suffering or emotional distress, two things that defy simple addition to calculate. Instead, testimony from family members or expert witnesses will be required to help a jury better estimate the value of these harms.
Should you accept insurance company’s first settlement offer?
The easy answer to this question is absolutely not. Though it’s understandably tempting, the reality is that an insurance company’s first offer is by necessity its lowest. Regardless of what they say, the adjuster has every incentive to make their first offer low, giving them room to negotiate upwards if they must. Injured plaintiffs may need the money and feel pressured to accept anything that’s offered, which is why it is crucial to rely on the advice of an experienced injury attorney who has been down the road before. Your car accident lawyer can guide you on what numbers to accept and what numbers are simply too low. Your car accident lawyer will also understand when to push the insurance company for more money and when to stop pushing. Just like accepting a lowball offer is a mistake, pushing a company to pay more than you are entitled to receive can also be a costly error. By entrusting your case to a competent car accident lawyer, you can be confident that he or she is working to secure the best deal possible.
In South Carolina, timing matters when it comes to an auto accident case. A special section of the law, known as statutes of limitation, define the time limits within which plaintiffs must bring lawsuits. These limits differ depending on the category of case and even vary depending on what state you’re located in. Here in South Carolina, victims in auto accident cases have three years from the date of injury to file a personal injury or property damage claim. Are the deadlines serious? You better believe it. Anyone who doubts it should wait and file a claim just after the statute of limitation has expired. Doing so will result in having your case thrown out of court. This is true even in cases where you suffered serious harm or where the other driver was clearly at fault. Once the time has run out, the specifics of your case no longer matter and your ability to receive compensation for the harm you’ve suffered vanishes into thin air. As a result, it’s crucial that you hire and rely on an experienced Columbia, SC auto accident attorney to keep these deadlines in mind and under control.