A car accident can quickly turn you and your family’s lives upside down and warrant a personal injury claim. While you struggle to recover from the physical and emotional pain of a serious crash, you may be faced with expensive medical bills and a reduced income caused by an inability to work. If you’re in this predicament, a Columbia, SC car accident lawyer can potentially help.
The attorneys at The Solomon Law Group help those in South Carolina who have been wrongfully injured. We can help you recover monetary damages from the person or entity that acted negligently and caused your crash.
You shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of an accident when you weren’t at fault. Your injuries could have been prevented if the other party had acted responsibly. We’ll hold them accountable for their actions. When we fight for you, we’ll use our expertise to maximize your compensation that can help you pay your accident-related bills and expenses, leaving you free to focus on your recovery.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents in South Carolina?
Most of us go through our days unaware of how common car wrecks are in South Carolina. In 2018, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety recorded 142,406 collisions. 969 of those collisions were fatal and 2,174 caused serious injuries. These facts are alarming–and that’s just in our state alone.
While an auto collision can happen at any time even under ideal driving conditions, there are certain factors and circumstances that contribute to most auto collisions in our state. These include the following:
- Distracted Driving. Any activity that could divert a driver’s attention away from the primary task of focusing on the road is considered a distraction. The most common distraction involves the use of a cell phone to talk, text, or otherwise communicate. South Carolina law deems it unlawful to use a wireless communication device to communicate text-based information while operating a vehicle.
- Impaired Driving. Drivers who consume alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances experience a reduction in their ability to react to traffic conditions as well as an impairment of their judgment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,870 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver from 2003-2012.
- Disobeying Traffic Rules and Control Devices. Drivers who are in a hurry or who are not paying attention can drive their vehicles too fast or carelessly for the prevailing road conditions or may ignore control devices telling them to stop or yield. This can cause a collision with other drivers who are obeying the law and driving responsibly. South Carolina’s traffic laws have been established under Title 56of the Code of Law.
- Aggressive Driving. Reckless or aggressive drivers caused nearly 29,000 wrecks in 2016. Habits of an aggressive driver may include tailgating, making frequent or unsafe lane changes, failing to signal, failing to yield the right of way, or disregarding traffic controls. Road rage also contributes to car wrecks because a driver focuses more on taking out their anger than driving safely. They could try to run someone off the road or purposely block them from making a turn that they need to take.
- Speeding. When a driver speeds, they are decreasing the control they have over their vehicle. They will not be able to stop as quickly as if they were going the speed limit, and they may have difficulty navigating sharp curves or icy road conditions. Just in 2016, over 42,000 crashes resulted from speeding.
- Inexperienced Drivers. New drivers may not be used to driving on highways, in heavy traffic, or even be used to having other people in the car. If they don’t practice driving skills and build up their confidence, they could make mistakes that lead to automobile collisions.
- Night Driving. Driving at nighttime is more difficult than driving during the day. Drivers need to get used to having lower visibility and depending on their headlights so they can safely navigate their vehicles.
- Failure to Check Blind Spots. When drivers need to turn or change lanes, they may check their rearview mirrors but not the blind spot in the back mirror. If someone thinks they’re alone on the road and didn’t notice a car behind them, they could turn into the vehicle.
Many collisions result in one or more of the following outcomes:
- Damage to property, such as cars that were damaged or totaled
- Minor injuries to occupants, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Serious or catastrophic injuries, like spine and neck injuries and traumatic brain injuries
What Are the Different Types of Car Accidents?
The type of wreck you’re in can significantly impact the damage and injuries sustained. While some accidents may only result in minor injuries, others could potentially change lives permanently.
- Rear-End Collision. If someone is tailgating you or not paying attention at a traffic light, they could hit the back end of your vehicle in the event you need to stop quickly, or if they are going too fast and cannot stop in time. Rear-end collisions often result in injuries like whiplash.
- Sideswipe. Sideswipe accidents happen when two cars traveling next to each other make contact. This happens most often on highways and interstates, where there are multiple lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.
- Side-Impact Crash. When a vehicle is struck from the side by the front or behind another vehicle, this is considered a side-impact crash or a T-bone collision. Injuries and property damage are common.
- Rollover Accident. Rollovers happen when a vehicle flips onto its roof or side. A combination of high speeds and sharp turns are often found to be the culprit. While all vehicles are subject to this kind of accident, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and tractor-trailers are more susceptible because of their higher center of gravity.
- Multi-Vehicle Pile-Ups. Pile-ups generally occur on highways and freeways because of the speed at which traffic travels. When two cars collide, the surrounding vehicles may be unable to stop and may make impact. It can be difficult to determine liability in these instances because of the number of vehicles and drivers involved.
- Head-On Collisions. When two vehicles collide head-to-head, the consequences are almost always devastating. These accidents are often caused by distractions and intoxication.
Regardless of your accident, The Solomon Law Group will investigate the scene to determine the facts of the crash. If necessary, we’ll consult with experts like an accident reconstructionist to find out the details of what happened. With a skilled Columbia car accident lawyer at your side, you can rest assured that we’ll find out how the other party’s negligence caused your accident.
What Should I Do After a Collision in Columbia?
Even though auto wrecks are jarring and terrifying, the next steps you take after the accident could help you with your claim down the road. Having an idea of what you need to do will help you if you ever find yourself in this situation in the future.
Check for Injuries
Assess if you or anyone else is hurt. Call 911 if anyone needs immediate medical care. Remember that not all injuries are visible or noticeable right away. Even if you do not seek immediate medical attention, you should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible.
Get Out of Traffic
Car collisions can create a lot of congestion on the road. If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road and out of the way of traffic. However, if you notice something in your car is smoking, smell burning, or see that fluid is leaking, it’s imperative to move away from the vehicle and assist others in maintaining a safe distance. Those are potential fire hazards and could cause severe burn injuries.
Call the Police
An official police report will need to be made if $1,000 in property damage, injury, or death occurs. Law enforcement will find who was at fault and you can use this when you file a claim. When you’re explaining what happened, only report the facts. Don’t try to fill in gaps that you don’t know or remember. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell the officer you don’t know a particular detail. Guessing could lead to inaccuracies that could hurt you in the future.
You might want to apologize for the situation, even if you’re not at fault. Apologizing implies you’re at fault and could reduce your compensation later.
Photograph everything that you can. This includes the scene, close-ups of the damage, and your injuries. Take more photos than you think necessary.
Speak to the other parties involved in the auto collision. Get names, addresses, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information from the other parties. You’ll also need the details of the vehicles in the crash.
Get Witness Information
Get names, addresses, and contact information of eyewitnesses if they want to provide their account. Eyewitnesses aren’t obligated to give their side of the story; however, if they choose to speak with you or police, they may be able to provide additional information that can be used to determine fault. Your Columbia car accident lawyer may wish to use their account of what happened when you file your claim.
Seek Medical Attention
After you’ve done all you can at the scene, it’s important to focus on your recovery. When you’re assessing yourself for injuries right after an accident, you may think that your injuries aren’t that severe, or you may think you’re unscathed.
However, there are often stress and shock hormones that are flooding your system after the traumatic experience of the car wreck. These can mask your symptoms and make it seem like you don’t have any injuries. Allow the emergency responders to assess your injuries and then make an appointment with your doctor for another evaluation as soon as possible.
As you meet with your doctor, you may have noticed symptoms developing, like a pain in your arm or a headache that won’t go away. It’s important to tell your doctor everything you’ve noticed since the crash. Don’t leave anything out, even if the pain is mild. Pain isn’t normal and indicates that something is wrong. If the pain is minor, it could develop into something worse.
Your doctor will give you an evaluation of your injuries so you can begin treating them as quickly as possible. Your injuries won’t have time to worsen and cause more pain. When you do this, you won’t risk lengthening your recovery time and you also help your claim. Having the medical record of seeing a doctor, an assessment of your injuries, and the measures you’ll need to take for your recovery will help your case.
An auto accident can cause many types of injuries. Let’s take a look at some of the common ones and how they can affect your life.
What Are the Most Common Car Crash Injuries?
While an auto collision could result in a multitude of injuries, there are injuries that are more common depending on the type of accident and force of impact.
These injuries can range from mild to severe, but all have the potential to cause pain and upend your life. In addition to the physical injuries listed below, mental trauma can also have a lasting effect on accident victims.
- Head and Neck Injuries. The severity of a head or neck injury can vary significantly. A concussion can result from mild force, while a traumatic brain injury (TBI) could happen if the head is jolted, bumped, or if the skull is penetrated. A rear-end accident could result in whiplash that usually heals within weeks or months. When damage is too severe, it can leave you permanently disabled.
- Back and Spine Injuries. Any damage to the spinal cord can be serious. While some victims may experience nerve damage, reduced sensation, or loss of control, others could become permanently paralyzed. This could affect a person’s ability to walk, move their trunk, or use their arms.
- Bruises and Lacerations. In a minor accident, you’re likely to walk away with some bumps and bruises. Serious lacerations, especially those on the face, may require stitches. If debris from the crash gets into these injuries, there may be a risk of infection.
- Burn Injuries. If some part of the car catches on fire and you’re in or near the car, you may have suffered burn injuries. These injuries could cause permanent nerve damage.
- Broken Bones. It’s fairly common to sustain a fracture after an auto collision. While some broken bones can heal with the help of a cast and eventually physical therapy, other severe breaks may require surgery.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Pain can be severe when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are stretched or torn in a crash. These injuries are also ones that may not be apparent at first.
- Injuries Resulting in Disability. Injuries that cause long-term damage are especially hard to cope with after an accident. Time away from work and affording medical treatments can cause serious concern.
Our firm understands how devastating car accident injuries can be. When these injuries have put your life on hold, we’ll take measures to help you get justice. We’ll look at all medical expenses, including:
- Medical equipment
- Hospital stays
- Doctor’s visits
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Medical exams and procedures
- Home healthcare assistance
An experienced car accident attorney from The Solomon Law Group will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation so you’re able to receive the medical treatment you need now and in the future.
How Is Liability Determined in South Carolina?
South Carolina operates under modified comparative fault law when it comes to determining who can be deemed legally responsible for an auto wreck. This means that a person who is less than 50 percent at fault for an accident may file a claim against the opposing party and receive compensation. If the victim, however, is found to be at fault for a small percentage of the accident, that will affect their compensation eligibility.
For example, if the fault for a collision is determined to be 70 percent and 30 percent, the party who is only at fault for 30 percent of the accident will be eligible for compensation for 70 percent of the damages incurred.
This is why it’s important to refrain from apologizing or assigning blame after an accident and to seek a lawyer as soon as possible. The other party may seem cooperative at the accident scene, but then you may find they’re trying to put some of the blame on you.
This can complicate your claim and could risk not receiving the compensation you deserve. When you have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side, you won’t have to worry about handling everything on your own.
Now that you know more about how collision liability works in South Carolina, let’s look into the elements of your claim so you can see what your lawyer will need to prove so you can get compensation.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive After a Car Accident?
Your compensation will cover the economic (calculable) and non-economic (less tangible) damages you incurred in an auto accident. Financial losses will be calculated in economic damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Income lost if you need to take a lower-paying position
- Loss of future earnings
You may recover non-economic damages for the emotional, life-changing, and non-monetary losses following an accident. These can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
When The Solomon Law Group is representing you, you can have peace of mind knowing we’re going to investigate your case, gather the necessary evidence, and fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.
What Can I Do to Help My Auto Accident Claim?
Inform your insurance provider and the other party’s insurance provider about the crash as soon as possible after the incident. Once your lawyer files your claim, an adjuster will be assigned to your case. They will investigate the accident and determine how much the insurance company thinks you are owed. You want your claim to be as substantial as possible. There are ways to reinforce your claim.
- Provide a Police Report. The police will take your statement, get information from the other party, and they will assess the accident scene. It’s important to give them as much information as you can. While you may think you have the full story, you might find out more about the collision from the report. It could show the other party’s definitive fault.
- Use Photos of the Accident and Injuries. Your photos of the accident and the injuries you’ve sustained will show how the accident affected you. This can show details from the details surrounding the crash, the severity of the crash, and how severe your injuries were.
- Give Copies of Medical Documents. Your medical records can show what injuries you incurred in the car crash. Your trial lawyer will get copies of documentation for required prescriptions or physical therapy because of the crash, as those are included in your medical expenses.
- Don’t Let an Insurance Company Take Advantage of You. An insurance adjuster’s job is to get you to settle for as little as possible. That’s how the insurance company makes money. Having your car accident attorney handle your insurance company can be extremely beneficial to your case.
- Set Your Social Media Accounts to Private. When your accounts are public, anyone can find your profile. If you post about the accident, give any details, or even talk about how you’re feeling much better, the other side could use this against you and question if your injuries are as severe as you claim. Check your privacy settings to control who sees your profile.
- Refrain from Posting Your Activities Online. Even avoiding talking about the accident but still actively posting on your accounts could give the impression that you’re doing better than you claim. You may want to play it as safely as possible and avoid using social media until your legal matters are concluded. If you have any questions, your lawyer can help you.
Because there are ways you may jeopardize your claim, it’s imperative to have the right personal injury lawyers at your side so you can make sure that you can fight to get full compensation. The Solomon Law Group is here for you to get the justice you deserve.
What Is the Process of Filing a Car Accident Claim in South Carolina?
Bringing a car accident claim and, if necessary, a lawsuit in South Carolina can result in you being awarded monetary damages. You obtain financial compensation when you either settle your case with the at-fault party for a specific sum of money or when you prove the following to a judge or jury:
- The defendant owed you or your loved one a “duty of care” requiring them to operate their vehicle in a lawful, reasonable, safe, and careful manner.
- The defendant breached this duty of care by operating their vehicle in a careless or negligent manner.
- The defendant’s careless actions caused you or your loved one to suffer an injury or resulted in your loved one’s wrongful death.
Citizens in Columbia deserve to know that their rights are protected. If the other side isn’t cooperative or isn’t offering a fair settlement, you and your lawyer may need to have a discussion about bringing this case to trial. There are advantages and disadvantages of both settlements and lawsuits.
While your attorney can’t promise a specific timeline or whether or not your case will settle outside of court, they can give you the basic outline of the legal process so you know what to expect.
- Meeting with Your Car Accident Attorney
Your lawyer ask you to bring all of your documentation and evidence to show what you experienced and the damages that you suffered. From there, your lawyer will determine whether or not they’ll take your case. If they decide yes, you’ll move on to the next step.
- The Discovery Phase
In this part, both parties’ legal representation will ask questions and request documentation relevant to their cases so that they can build their stances. This part can take a long time because asking questions and getting answers can take longer than you think. They’ll also need to talk to witnesses which can take a long time.
- Working to Reach a Settlement
Then the car accident attorneys on both sides will work to find a settlement that’s fair for both sides. You need to have a lawyer who knows what you’re owed, though, so that you don’t get pushed to settle for less than you deserve. In most car accident claims, a settlement can be reached and you don’t have to go to court.
However, if a settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer will have to prepare you for trial.
Will My Car Accident Case Proceed to Court?
With your case in a courtroom, a judge will make a ruling on your case. If the judge rules in your favor, you can receive full compensation for your injuries. However, this also can be a disadvantage, as it’s possible the judge could rule in the other party’s favor. If this is the case, you may not be eligible to receive any compensation.
It’s important to go over your case with your lawyer and to see if they’re optimistic or skeptical about making the decision to go to court. It’s also important to note that the other side could appeal the court’s decision.
When you’re in the settlement process, you do have the advantage of your case remaining private. Once your case goes to court, it becomes a matter of public record. While you may not have done anything wrong, you may want to keep the details of your personal injury accident to those who were involved.
The costs of court can also be a deterrent. If the other side is taking measures to hold up or prolong the process, you may find the costs of the lawsuit are starting to become overwhelming. When you’re dealing with an injury and worrying about other expenses like medical bills, it can be a lot to worry about court fees as well.
However, if after talking to your lawyer and you both think that filing a lawsuit is in your best interests, then you’re likely wondering about how that process works and how you can best represent yourself in court. Let’s go over some tips you can keep in mind if you’re going to be in a courtroom.
FAQ’s Regarding Car Accident Claims
There are some frequently asked questions we hear often as car accident lawyers. We have the answers for you.
Question: How long will my car accident claim take to resolve?
Answer: In short, we can’t predict how long your case will take to either settle or be resolved in court. Ideally, a claim takes a few months, but it can take more than a year sometimes to come to a close, depending on the details.
Question: How much is my case worth?
Answer: This varies from case to case. When you meet with your attorney and show them your documentation and all of the damages you suffered, they’ll calculate what you’re owed in compensation. From there, they’ll work to ensure you get what you deserve in your settlement. They’ll only take your case if they think you will win.
Question: Do I really need a car accident attorney?
Answer: In most situations where you incurred damages from a collision that wasn’t your fault, then yes. Having a lawyer on your side ensures that you have the support you need throughout your claim and keeps the other party from taking advantage of you. That’s why you should hire our Columbia, SC car accident lawyer.
Know Where to Seek Legal Aid
If you or a loved one has been in a vehicle wreck, you have the right to seek legal representation. There’s a big difference between self-representation and having a lawyer on your side. A skilled Columbia car accident lawyer from The Solomon Law Group can help you file your claim, so you can get compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, and more. We’ll always represent your best interests so you get the compensation you deserve.
There are other positive outcomes of taking legal action that you may not have thought about. When you decide to file a claim, you’re letting the negligent driver know that their actions or inactions had severe consequences. Your decision to seek compensation might make them reconsider their driving behavior in the future. This could potentially make them a safer driver and make the road safer for everyone.
If you’re prepared to file your claim or have questions about the legal process, we’re here for you. Contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule a free consultation. We’ll be able to evaluate your case and help you determine how best to proceed.