Suppose you were in a car accident in South Carolina. How do you prove fault for the collision? Who figures this out, and how do you begin seeking compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered because of it?
Hiring a car accident lawyer is the first step to determine fault in South Carolina traffic collisions. But what do you do next?
Read on and learn more about how a South Carolina car accident attorney can help you with your case and what you need to do to determine fault for the accident.
Who Determines Fault in South Carolina Car Accidents?
Regardless of who is at fault for a South Carolina traffic collision, each driver involved must submit insurance verification by completing a green FR-10 form. This form must go to your insurance company for completion and then sent to the DMV no later than 15 days after your accident. If you do not submit this form, your driver’s license can be suspended, as well as your vehicle registration.
Two main parties play a role in determining fault in a South Carolina car accident: the police and the insurance companies. (Sometimes the courts will assess fault, as well).
The police, the sheriff’s department, or the state highway patrol, will figure out who was at fault by:
- Focusing on whether anyone broke the law
- Deciding if any of the involved drivers should receive a citation and face criminal charges
- Charging a driver with a traffic infraction or a more serious charge
- Making an arrest (if applicable)
- Interviewing the drivers and witnesses
- Documenting the position of the involved vehicles
- Taking measurements at the scene
- Collecting physical evidence from the scene
- Giving a blood alcohol test (if the investigation officer believes alcohol contributed to the accident)
Once the officer has done the above, they will complete an accident report and make a statement about which driver caused the accident based on their judgment. However, in many cases, police reports do not list a determination of fault. If the officer must testify in court, the law allows the officer to refer to their police report. South Carolina law prohibits police reports as evidence that proves driver negligence in lawsuits seeking compensation.
After the accident, insurance companies will use the police accident report to decide the claim payout amount, even though the police report itself is inadmissible evidence. Insurance companies investigate who is at fault for car accidents in two ways:
- Examine the gathered evidence from the scene, including police reports, photographs, or dashcam videos, as well as statements from witnesses
- Analyze your statements from both the scene and the comments you made to your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company.
Your statements can get used to deny your claim or dispute the total of the entitled amount you should receive. Due to South Carolina’s fault laws, the state follows the theory of comparative negligence. This theory means that while you may still be eligible to collect on an accident for which you have part of the blame, the degree of your responsibility would reduce the amount you would receive.
What to Do Following a South Carolina Car Accident
Make no statements to the insurance company or sign any documents until you have contacted a South Carolina car accident attorney. You need professional legal representation for the protection of your rights and interests in these kinds of circumstances. An experienced attorney will gather the necessary evidence to support your case to receive your maximum entitled compensation.
The right attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash, determine how the collision occurred, and figure out who was at fault. Even if you have part of the blame for the crash, you may still seek compensation in the state of South Carolina.
You will need an itemized record of the scope and costs of your accident-related injuries and losses, and a South Carolina car accident lawyer can assist.
If you want to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered in a car accident, there is help available. At the Connell Law Firm, our professional attorneys have helped people for over 25 years with car accident cases, and we can help you with yours. We will legally represent you with competency and passion, all the while seeking justice for you as the victim who was harmed by others’ wrongdoing and negligence. So, contact the Connell Law Firm today!