There really is no standard or average damage award in a Charleston car crash. Settlements can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on a number of factors:
- The severity of your injuries/amount of your medical expenses
- Whether surgery is necessary
- Disability/need for long-term care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional/psychological trauma
- Time off work/lost income
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Cost of property damage
- Your share of fault, if any, in the accident
- Whether you’ve hired an attorney
- Whether your case goes to court
- Whether the at-fault driver’s actions were intentional or reckless enough to justify punitive damages
Available Insurance Coverage Plays an Important Role
South Carolina law requires every motorist to carry at least $25,000 worth of liability insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver in your crash had only the minimum required coverage, it might not be enough to compensate you fairly for:
- Major damage to your vehicle
- Treatment of severe injuries
- Ongoing care for disability
- Future lost earning potential
In such a case, you might be able to collect further compensation from:
- Your own underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)
- A manufacturer or repair service if faulty equipment caused your wreck
- A liquor license holder that served alcohol to a drunk driver
The services of an experienced attorney are highly recommended to get you fair compensation by filing claims against multiple parties and negotiating with more than one insurance company.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Recovery Following A Charleston Area Car Accident
If you’re found partially at fault for your own accident, you may still file a claim for damages and go to court if necessary. South Carolina’s modified comparative fault system, however, will reduce your award according to your percentage of fault as long as you’re less than 51% responsible. If you’re 51% or more at fault, you will recover nothing at all. Calculating the percentage of fault is a very subjective process and depends upon your attorney’s presenting your evidence convincingly.
Your Car Accident Attorney Will Protect You From Insurance Company Tricks
If you’re injured by a negligent driver in Charleston, South Carolina law allows you to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for your damages. Once you do so, an insurance adjuster from the company is likely to contact you, inquire about your health, and request answers to some “routine” questions. In reality, the adjuster is trying to trick you into giving a recorded statement and/or saying something that can be used against you to dispute or devalue your claim. Adjusters are well trained and well paid to keep their companies profitable by paying out as little money as possible to accident victims.
You might even be offered a quick settlement at this point if you agree to sign “necessary” documents. If you communicate openly with this adjuster and/or accept the first settlement you’re offered, it will definitely be a low one. If you’ve retained an attorney, your best move in this situation is to give only the most basic information and refer the adjuster to your lawyer, who will know:
- What to say/not to say to an adjuster
- How to investigate your accident thoroughly
- How to gather all your evidence and present it convincingly
- How to evaluate your claim and put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering
- How to calculate a fair settlement for your damages
- How to send a demand letter to the insurance company
- How to negotiate with the insurance company to get you adequate compensation
- How to take your case to trial and fight for you in court if necessary
As soon as the insurance company knows you have an attorney to do all of the above and more, it has an incentive to offer you a better settlement. Without an attorney, you pose no threat to the company. Its lawyers are trained negotiators and litigators against whom you do not stand a chance of getting a fair settlement on your own. For these reasons, having an attorney has a direct bearing on what your settlement offer will be. You stand to get a significantly higher offer with a lawyer than without one.
Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.