Driving is a necessary part of many people’s day-to-day lives. Some require vehicles to travel to and from work, while others need them to transport their children to school and extracurricular activities, or to perform daily tasks. The resulting increasing number of cars on the road has led to a recent spike in car accidents. According to the United States Census Bureau, around 5.6 million car accidents occurred last year. In those accidents, as many as 30,000 people tragically lost their lives and a further 1.6 million sustained crash-related injuries. Recovering from car accidents can be prohibitively expensive, so if you or a loved one were injured in a car crash, it is important to retain the services of an experienced car accident attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Car Accident Types
Car crashes can happen just about anywhere and at any time. However, there are certain types of car accidents that occur more often than others, including:
- Rear-end crashes;
- Sideswipe collisions;
- Vehicle rollovers;
- Side-impact crashes;
- Head-on car crashes;
- Single car accidents; and
- Multi-vehicle pile-ups.
Any of these types of crashes can result in injury to the occupants, but head-on collisions and multi-car pile-ups usually cause more serious injuries and are often fatal. While one party’s negligence may be obvious in some cases, proving negligence in a multi-car pile-up is very difficult. This is simply due to the fact that many more parties are involved and responsibility may be split amongst a number of individuals. In cases of this nature, it is especially important to obtain the advice of an attorney.
Injuries sustained in car accidents can range in severity from scrapes and bruises to broken bones. Generally, the more cars are involved in an accident and the faster the vehicles are traveling, the more serious the injuries are likely to be. Some of the most common car crash-related injuries include:
- Crushed and broken bones;
- Organ damage;
- Internal bleeding;
- Nerve damage;
- Traumatic brain injury; and
- Emotional distress.
Some victims become aware of their injury almost immediately as in the case of a laceration or severely broken bone. However, in many cases a victim’s injuries do not manifest at the time of the car crash, but at a much later date. Neck and back injuries in particular can take a significant amount of time before they begin to cause discomfort. For this reason it is important to receive thorough medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. This gives victims the best chance of receiving treatment while also creating a record of all injuries and medical assessments, so that responsible parties will have a harder time arguing that an accident did not cause the injuries.
The bills associated with obtaining treatment can quickly add up, which can be financially devastating for victims and their families. Medical expenses can include the cost of:
- Prescription medications;
- Physical therapy;
- Appointments with specialists;
- Emergency care; and
- Long-term assistance.
Keeping a record of these costs is vital to ensuring that injured parties are able to recover the full amount that they are owed.
Being injured in a car crash results in more than just medical costs. For example, a person injured in a car accident may be unable to work for weeks or even months. In some tragic cases, injuries are so devastating that the injured party cannot sustain full-time employment. This can have serious consequences for not only the victim, but also his or her family. Relatives may be forced to also take time off in order to care for the victim or the family may need to hire a nursing assistant or someone to help with child care.
Most car accidents also result in some type of property damage, especially to vehicles. Some damage is just superficial, such as dents and scrapes. However, some especially violent car accidents can lead to one or both cars being deemed a total loss. Hiring a mechanic can be expensive, so it is important to retain all receipts with itemized lists of what was damaged and what was repaired, so that victims can recover the full amount that they are owed. This may also include the costs associated with renting an alternative vehicle while the damaged car is in the shop or the cost of obtaining an entirely new replacement vehicle.
In order to obtain compensation from the party whose negligence caused the accident, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was negligent. This requires proof of the following:
- The defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to the victim;
- He or she breached that duty;
- The accident occurred as a result of that breach; and
- The victim sustained an injury as a result.
Even when an injured party is semi-responsible for the accident, he or she can still obtain compensation from the other party. This is because South Carolina adheres to the legal theory of comparative negligence, which allows recovery as long as the plaintiff’s contribution to the crash was not more than the defendant’s. However, the injured party’s recovery will be decreased by the amount of his or her contribution to the crash.
Being involved in a car crash can have far-reaching consequences. Many survivors develop anxiety about driving and require the help of a therapist to cope. Families who have lost a relative to a car crash may have trouble making ends meet, while also struggling with the emotional toll of dealing with the death of a loved one. If you live in South Carolina and were recently injured in a crash that was caused by another person’s negligence, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney who can explain your legal options and help get you on the road to recovery. Please contact the Connell Law Firm by completing one of our online contact forms and we’ll have a member of our Columbia auto accident legal team help you schedule a consultation.