South Carolina Accident Attorneys Serving Clients throughout Clinton, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia, SC
Whether you are in a fender bender in North Charleston, SC or are involved in a serious car accident involving severe personal injuries in Myrtle Beach or Columbia, SC, it is important to understand how to handle an insurance company and why it is important to have the insurer on your side. You need to be prepared in the event of a traffic collision, and part of your preparation should involve gaining a better understanding of how the insurance claims process works.
According to a fact book from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, far too many car crashes occur in our state, and many of these accidents are preventable. Indeed, every 4.4 minutes a traffic collision occurs in South Carolina, and one fatal crash happens ever 11.6 hours. How often do South Carolina residents get hurt in car accidents? The fact book indicates that, in 2014, one injury collision occurred every 15.4 minutes. To give you a better sense of how severe those numbers are, the fact book highlights that traffic fatalities in South Carolina are on the rise. To be sure, they showed a 7.3 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 alone. Travel during the holiday season often results in a startlingly high number of serious traffic collisions, from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
If you are in a car crash, what do you need to know now about handling the insurance company and its requests?
Report the Accident As Soon As Possible to Your Insurer, But Only Give the Facts
When you are involved in a car accident, you may not be thinking particularly clearly when you make a statement to your insurance company. It is important to recognize that most insurance policies require you to contact your insurer to report an accident—regardless of who may have been at fault. You will need to provide factual information to your insurer, but you should never admit fault. Even if you suspect that you may have been partially responsible for a crash, it is important to avoid discussing this with an insurance company representative until you have spoken with a Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer. You should remember that your own insurance company is not an advocate for your case. Your insurer will want to avoid paying out as much as possible, and as such it is important to hire a car accident attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Keep in mind that, even if you are found to be partially at fault in a car accident lawsuit, you still may be able to recover damages. South Carolina law operates on a theory of “comparative negligence” in personal injury lawsuits. What does this mean? In brief, comparative negligence in South Carolina means that a plaintiff can recover damages in a lawsuit as long as she was not more blameworthy than the defendant. As long as the plaintiff was 50 percent or less at fault, then she can recover that percentage of a damage award.
Let Your Lawyer Handle Your Insurance Claims Process, Including Contact with the Other Party’s Insurance Company and Your Own Insurance Company’s Adjuster
You should never have to deal with the other party’s insurance company. While you may need to speak briefly to your own insurance company—providing the facts surrounding the accident—before you can speak with an attorney, you should discuss your case with a Columbia car accident attorney as soon as possible. Once you have hired a lawyer, your lawyer can handle any communications that need to be made with the other party’s insurance company. Just like your own insurance company, the other driver’s insurer will want to pay as little as possible, and will want to argue that you were at fault for the accident. To be clear: let your lawyer deal with the other party’s insurance company.
Once you have an experienced auto accident lawyer on your side, you can also let your lawyer handle communications with your own insurance company’s adjuster. An adjuster—even if she or he works for the insurance company through which you have a policy—is not an advocate for your best interests.
Why You Want to Have an Insurance Company On Your Side
While an auto insurance company will not be on your side or advocate for your rights the way a car accident lawyer in Clinton, SC can, it is still important to work with your insurance company. After a car accident in Columbia or Charleston, for instance, an insurance company can help you to understand how your premiums might rise following the crash and what steps you can take to lower your premiums, according to this frequently asked question.
Your lawyer may also be able to negotiate a settlement with an insurer depending upon the specific facts of your case. As such, it is important to be upfront and honest with an insurance company, but to keep in mind that you should only provide as much information as is necessary to get the claims process started.