What Should I Do After I Am in a Car Accident in Charleston, SC?

Many people never think about what they would do in the event they are in a car accident, especially if they are seriously injured. The most basic things people should do after an accident include the following:

  • Contact 911 to report your accident. If you or others are injured, let them know you need medical attention.
  • If you are injured, let the first responders examine you and take you to the local emergency room for further evaluation.
  • In the event there are witnesses to the accident, ask them to speak with the officer on scene or ask for their contact information.

Why We Recommend Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

South Carolina law allows you to file a claim against the at-fault driver for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Even if your claim is valid, however, there is no guarantee that it will succeed. The insurance company's adjusters are trained to dispute claims in order to save money for the company. They may offer you a quick settlement that will not compensate you adequately for your medical and car repair bills.

Getting a fair award depends upon gathering strong evidence and presenting it convincingly to the negligent driver's insurance company (or in court if you end up going to trial). Because car accident evidence can deteriorate or be lost over time, you need an attorney who can:

  • Quickly get footage from any nearby security or red-light cameras that might have recorded your wreck
  • Contact witnesses and get their statements before memories get fuzzy with time
  • Check immediately for evidence from the towing company that removed the car(s) from the scene

If you happen to have been hit by any kind of commercial vehicle (such as a taxi, delivery van, or truck), there might be an electronic data recorder or "black box" with evidence that is crucial to your case. Your lawyer may seek a court order to obtain the black box data from the company that owns the at-fault vehicle. Because black box data is generally erased every 30 days, your attorney can send a spoliation letter requesting that the company preserve that data and other evidence related to your crash. This needs to be done quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions From Charleston Car Accident Victims

How do I get my medical bills paid after my car accident?

If you are the victim in an accident and are seriously injured, you will need medical treatment and care. If the accident is another driver's fault, they are liable to pay for your medical treatment and the damage to your vehicle through their insurance policy.

The challenge with being injured in an accident is that you typically cannot be reimbursed for your expenses throughout your treatment by the at-fault driver's insurance. Once you are done seeing doctors and being treated, you must submit all of your medical bills at the end of your case to be reimbursed for the damages. This happens because insurance companies are not legally obligated to pay you as you incur medical expenses.

Insurance companies use this information to their advantage because many people cannot afford to pay all the medical bills that come with being hurt in an accident. As bills get higher, victims are more likely to settle for a lower amount to pay off the expenses they have incurred instead of waiting to get the full value of their case. When times get tough, and a person who was hurt in a car accident feels like the insurance company is not looking out for them.

But won't the insurance adjuster look out for my best interests after my accident?

An insurance adjuster may give you some helpful responses in regard to your claim, but ultimately, an insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, and they are working for the company's best interests, not yours.

There are questions you may ask the adjuster about your claim that will tell you if you really are "in good hands."

You could ask if they will put in writing that you were not at fault in the accident and give you notification of all the insurance coverage available before offering you a settlement. You could also ask that if they require you to sign a medical authorization form, they will only seek information related to this accident and not all of your medical history in an attempt to weaken your claim.

Most, if not all, insurance adjusters will refuse to put that information in writing, nor will they willingly give you any additional information about your claim.

Other Reasons to Hire a Horry County Car Accident Lawyer

To Avoid Making Common Mistakes

Many accident victims make the mistake of talking to insurance adjusters or giving recorded statements, either of which can hurt their claims. If you hire an attorney as soon as possible, you can refer the insurance company's representatives to your lawyer until the claim is settled.

To Strengthen Your Case

Your lawyer will know how to retain medical witnesses to testify about your injuries, recovery time, prognosis, and possible disabilities. An accident reconstruction professional is someone else your attorney may call in to reconstruct your accident and show that the other driver was at fault.

To Stay Within Deadlines

If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unacceptably low settlement, your lawyer will file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.

To evaluate your claim and stand up to the insurance company.

Your attorney can put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, evaluate your injuries to determine what a reasonable settlement would be, and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair award. 

To Make Use of Your Medical Records

Very soon after you're injured, you could have an avalanche of bills and receipts for hospitalization, ER treatment, physical therapy, prescriptions, and assistive equipment.

Rather than try to keep track of all this evidence for yourself when you're injured and recovering, you can turn it over to your auto accident lawyer, who will organize and present it to your advantage in negotiations with the insurance company.

How Comparative Fault Affects Your Settlement

In South Carolina, if you're found more than 50% responsible for your own accident, you may not recover any damages at all. When the insurance company starts trying to claim you were more than half responsible, you'll need an attorney on your side to prove that you were not.

Dirk J. Derrick
Connect with me
South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.