A car accident can quickly turn you and your family’s lives upside down. 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 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.
Understanding Why Car Collisions Happen 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 56 of 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
Determining how an auto accident occurred is an important step in assigning fault. At The Solomon Law Group, we understand how difficult it can be physically, emotionally, and financially to recover from injuries. Your Columbia car accident attorney will help you file a car accident claim that can put you on the path to receiving the compensation you need so you can focus on healing and getting your life back in order.
Recognizing the Types of Common Collisions
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.
Knowing What to Do After a Wreck in South Carolina
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.
- Don’t Apologize. 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.
- Take Photos. Photograph everything that you can. This includes the scene, close-ups of the damage, and your injuries. Take more photos than you think necessary.
- Exchange Information. 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.
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.
Recovering From Common Car Crash Injuries
While an auto collision could result in a multitude of injuries, there are physical 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.
- Head and Neck Injuries. The severity of a head or neck injury can vary significantly. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) could happen if the head is jolted, bumped, or if something penetrates the skull. If the force isn’t too severe, someone could develop a concussion. While these require treatment, they may heal on their own. However, brain bleeding and swelling can occur and will require immediate medical attention. If the damage is too severe, it could leave someone permanently disabled. A rear-end accident could result in whiplash that will heal over a period of weeks or months. These injuries may not be apparent at first because they’re not always obvious.
- Back and Spine Injuries. Any damage to the spinal cord can be serious. While some victims may experience reduced sensation or control over their limbs for a period of time, others could become permanently paralyzed from the injury site and down. 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.
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. 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.
Injuries That Result in Disability
If you’ve suffered from severe car crash injuries, you may be temporarily disabled as the injuries take time to heal or permanently disabled if the injuries won’t completely heal. If your injuries cause temporary disability, you can still be prevented from returning to work. You may need to miss work for weeks or months while you heal and maintain your treatment so you can recover.
This can be particularly stressful for anyone. You may worry about:
- Time Away from Work. You may have paid time off or sick time, but that rarely covers unexpected long absences. You may worry about keeping your job and if you’ll be able to return to it. When our lawyers are fighting for you, we’ll tally the days of work you’ve missed and seek compensation for those lost wages.
- Affording Medical Treatment. Getting the medical care you need shouldn’t be a struggle. We’ll fight for you to get the care you deserve, including the care you’ll need in the future.
You’re missing work because of an accident that wasn’t your fault and you shouldn’t have to worry about the time it will take for you to recover.
If your injuries are permanent, you may not be able to return to your previous job. The injury could also prevent you from being able to return to the workforce. In this situation, the injury will likely require extensive, continued medical care for you to maintain a high quality of life. When these expenses are paired with being unable to work, figuring out how you’re going to afford those expenses and keep up with your other financial responsibilities may seem impossible. That’s where our car accident attorneys step in.
A catastrophic injury can have many associated costs. We’ll seek fair compensation for you so you can get the treatment you need, which includes appointments, procedures, medication, and medical equipment, and not have to worry about how you’re going to get food on the table.
If you decide to file a lawsuit against the guilty driver or an insurance company who may be treating you unfairly, your attorney will need to determine how exactly the crash occurred and how it could have been prevented. Solid evidence is required for this step, which your car accident lawyer can obtain.
Determining Collision Liability 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 You Receive?
Your compensation will cover your financial losses like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. If you’re unable to go back to your previous job and need to take a lower-paying position, you can also seek damages for diminished earning capacity.
An injury that prevents you from being able to work at all could mean you’re eligible for loss of earnings, or what you would have earned had the accident not happened and you would have been able to continue to work.
But there are also other components of your compensation you may not know that you were eligible to recover. You may recover noneconomic damages for the emotional consequences of the accident. These aren’t as obvious as economic damages, but our lawyers are skilled at calculating fair compensation amounts. As your representation, your Columbia car accident lawyer will look into the following noneconomic damages: pain the suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and more.
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. If you’re wondering how you can help your claim, there are some steps you can take. Let’s look into the ways you can show the points we mentioned above.
Strengthening Your 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.
If an adjuster gets in touch with you, it’s important to know that what you say may put harm your chances of getting the compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries. We can help you when you’re dealing with an insurance company.
How to Handle Insurance Adjusters
While you will need to inform the insurance company of the accident, an insurance adjuster may try to use tactics to give you less compensation than you deserve. They will make a settlement offer, but wait for your car accident attorney’s opinion of their offer. Since the insurance adjuster is not representing your best interests, the settlement may not be a fair deal.
Their job is to get you to settle for as little as possible because that’s how the insurance company makes money. When an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement amount, you may not even know the extent of your injuries at that point.
You could still have injuries you don’t know about and you don’t know the costs of your recovery. Accepting an early settlement could leave you with less than you need to get medical care and cover the other costs of the accident.
You can have your lawyer facilitate communication between you and the insurance company. You don’t have to worry about intimidation or saying something that can be used against your claim.
You should also avoid social media. While nearly everyone has multiple social media accounts and it’s normal to post regular updates on these accounts, this information could be used to reduce your claim. To protect your claim, do the following:
- Set Your 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. 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 car accident 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.
Components of Your Personal Injury Claim
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. By following the above steps, you can rest assured that the other party will be held accountable for their actions.
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.
Will Your 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.
Tips for the Courtroom
It’s important to remember how to present yourself in a court of law so you can discuss the facts of what happened to you and not have to worry about other issues that could make you seem less credible. Our lawyers will go over advice for what to do and expect when you go to court.
- Arrive Early. Always give yourself time before your court appointment. You’ll need to park your vehicle, walk to the courthouse, go through security, and find your room. If you’re rushing, you’ll likely be stressed and arrive flustered and unfocused. When you build in an extra 15 minutes, you can arrive calmly and keep your focus on the task at hand.
- Dress Appropriately. Dress so you can make a good impression and also to respect the place you’re in. An outfit that you would wear to a formal job interview is a good marker for how to dress for court. Also, avoid distracting or noisy jewelry—these interruptions can make you lose your train or thought or feel self-conscious every time you move and make noise. If you’re still questioning what to wear, your lawyer can help.
- Don’t Bring Electronics. You don’t want anything like a phone or tablet ringing with a notification in the middle of court proceedings. While turning them off can prevent this, you may not want to even worry about your electronics causing a distraction. These can be left in the car or at home.
- Don’t Chew Gum. You need to be able to speak clearly when you’re talking about your case. Chewing gum can also be another unwelcome source of noise—it also may appear as a sign of disrespect or like you’re not taking this process seriously. In addition to not chewing gum, don’t bring any food or drinks into the courtroom either.
- Stand for the Judge. When a judge enters or exits the courtroom, you should stand when they do so. If you are speaking and addressing the judge, you should also stand during this time as well. The only time you wouldn’t do this is if you’re on the witness stand.
- Answer Clearly. You need to be clear and concise when answering questions. If something requires a yes or a no, you need to say it out loud. Gesturing with your head may indicate these words in a conversation, but you need to voice these aloud to make sure your answer is heard and recorded.
- Stay Patient. A judge may ask you questions. When they’re doing this, make sure to allow them to finish their question before you answer. While you’ll likely have some nerves or may want to get the answer out as quickly as possible, it’s imperative to not interrupt the judge.
Your lawyer will go over all the items to keep in mind, so you’ll know what to do and what to expect when you’re in the courtroom. We realize this process can be nerve-wracking, but The Solomon Law Group has years of experience fighting for our clients in court and helping them prepare for their case. We’ll be at your side every step of the way.
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. 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.