exchanging information after car accident

Car accidents happen in South Carolina every day. If you are involved in a crash, both the collision and its aftermath can be very frightening and confusing. Knowing what to do after an accident is important, not just to protect your health, but also to protect your legal rights.

Our personal injury attorneys have more than 300 years of combined experience helping clients in car accident cases. Our attorneys are respected by their peers, and many hold leadership positions in local and statewide legal organizations. Since 1968, we have helped victims of many types of auto accidents, including those that resulted in serious injuries and even fatalities. We are prepared to help our clients understand and enforce their rights, and have the skills and resources needed to secure a successful outcome.

To learn more about what to do after a car accident, Just Call Joye Law Firm by filling out our online case evaluation form to schedule your free consultation.

What Are South Carolina’s Laws Concerning Car Accidents?

Car accident laws in South Carolina are primarily governed by a combination of traffic laws, negligence laws, and insurance requirements.

These laws include:

  • Minimum Insurance Requirements: Drivers in South Carolina are required to have car insurance with minimum coverage amounts. These include bodily injury liability coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and property damage liability coverage of $25,000 per accident.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: South Carolina law requires that all auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. This protects drivers in case they are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance.
  • Reporting Accidents: State law requires drivers to report any car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage.
  • Comparative Negligence Rule: South Carolina follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that a damaged party can still recover compensation even if they are partially at fault for the accident. However, their compensation from a trial verdict will be reduced by their percentage of fault. If they are found to be more than 50% at fault, they cannot recover any damages.
  • Statute of Limitations: In South Carolina, the time limit or statute of limitations for auto accident claims is generally three years from the date of the accident. However, certain circumstances, like whether the at-fault party is a governmental entity, can shorten that time frame. That’s why it’s crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Drivers who are involved in an accident that causes property damage, injury, or death must stop their vehicles at the scene of the crash, and must provide proof of insurance. Proof of insurance must also be submitted to the South Carolina DMV within 15 days of the accident in order to avoid suspension of your driver’s license and vehicle registration.

Providing proof of insurance is just one of the many things that you should do after an accident. It is also important to do the following:

Contact law enforcement to report the accident.

A police officer will come to the scene and write up a report about the accident. If any driver violated driving rules, that driver may be ticketed. It is important to have an accident report from a member of law enforcement, as this report could be used in the event that the party who is at fault for the accident later tries to tell a different story about the events that occurred.

Get prompt medical attention right after the accident for yourself and for all passengers.

You should be checked out by a doctor after the accident, even if you think that you feel fine. In some cases, a soft tissue injury, internal bleeding, or brain injury may not be immediately apparent. When these injuries do become apparent, they can cause serious harm or even death. After the initial shock of a collision wares off, injuries may also turn out to be worse than you originally thought.

Not only is it important to get checked out right away to protect yourself medically after an accident, but it is also important to protect yourself legally. If you delay medical treatment, then the at-fault insurance company could try to claim that as evidence you weren’t really hurt or that you were injured by something other than the accident.

Write down information about the other drivers, as well as information about witnesses to the accident.

You should get the name, address, and insurance information of the drivers and owners of the other vehicles involved. You should also write down the names and contact information for any witnesses, as you may need to call upon them later to back up your side of the story. Many drivers have dash cams, which can also be used as evidence if we are able to contact them after the accident.

Take photos of the accident scene and record any relevant information.

You should write down the location of the accident, take video/photographs of the area and of vehicle damage, and record details about everything you remember from the accident. All of this will help you later on if there are questions about who was responsible for the accident, or if you need to prove certain details. If anyone appears to be intoxicated, you should also take note, and express concerns to the law enforcement officers on scene.

Contact an attorney as soon as possible.

You will need to have legal representation to make sure you do not do anything to jeopardize a car accident claim, and to make sure you protect your rights to get the compensation you deserve under South Carolina law. Your attorney can deal with the insurer, gather evidence, and help you prove liability so you can recover compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages. Learn the benefits of hiring a lawyer after a car accident here.

These are just a few of the many things that need to be done after a car accident. It is also important to avoid doing things that could potentially jeopardize your right to recover compensation, such as telling law enforcement that you aren’t hurt before you’ve been checked out by a doctor, admitting fault for the accident, or apologizing to the other driver for doing something wrong.

Also, while it is important to notify your insurance company that an accident happened, you should not provide an insurance company with a written or recorded statement about the accident without the advice of an attorney.

What Are Common Mistakes to Avoid after a Crash?

Car accident victims can inadvertently make mistakes that might affect their ability to receive full compensation or properly handle the legal aspects of the incident.

Here are common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not Reporting the Accident: Failing to report the accident to the police can be a significant mistake. A police report provides an official record of the event, and is often crucial in settling your claim.
  • Admitting Fault: Even saying something as simple as “I’m sorry” at the accident scene can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. It’s important to avoid discussing fault or making statements that could be interpreted as such.
  • Not Seeking Medical Attention: Some injuries are not immediately apparent. Failing to seek medical attention right away can not only be detrimental to your health, but can also weaken your insurance claim, as insurers may argue that the injuries are not serious or not related to the accident.
  • Neglecting to Gather Evidence: Not collecting enough evidence at the scene, like photos of the vehicles, road conditions, and contact information of witnesses, can make it harder to build a strong insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Speaking Directly to the Other Party’s Insurance Company: Giving a statement to the other party’s insurer or accepting a settlement offer from them without consulting a lawyer can lead to accepting less compensation than you deserve.
  • Signing Documents Without Legal Advice: Signing any legal document or settlement offer without fully understanding the implications can limit your ability to seek further compensation. It’s always advisable to have these documents reviewed by a lawyer.
  • Delaying the Legal Process: Waiting too long to file an insurance claim or lawsuit can be problematic. There’s a statute of limitations in South Carolina, and delaying beyond this period can make it impossible to seek compensation.
  • Posting About the Accident on Social Media: Sharing details or photos related to the accident on social media can undermine your claim. Insurers and opposing lawyers might use these posts to dispute your account of the accident or the severity of your injuries.
  • Not Consulting a Lawyer: Especially in cases with significant injuries or complex circumstances, failing to consult with a lawyer can result in receiving less compensation than you might be entitled to.

What Is the Long-Term Impact of Car Accidents on Victims?

Car accidents can have significant long-term impacts on victims, affecting both their physical and emotional well-being. The extent and nature of these impacts often depend on the severity of the accident and the injuries sustained.

The challenges and impact victims face both in the immediate aftermath and years to come after their car accidents can include:

Physical Challenges

  • Chronic Pain: Injuries from car accidents can lead to chronic pain conditions, which may persist long after the accident.
  • Disability: Severe accidents can result in disabilities, either temporary or permanent, impacting the victim’s mobility and ability to perform daily activities.
  • Rehabilitation Needs: Many victims require long-term rehabilitation, including physical therapy, to regain strength and mobility.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Serious injuries might leave scars or lead to disfigurement, which can also be emotionally traumatic.

Emotional and Psychological Challenges

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Many car accident victims experience PTSD, which can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the accident.
  • Depression and Anxiety: The trauma and life changes following an accident can lead to depression and anxiety. These issues might be compounded by chronic pain or disability.
  • Fear of Driving: It’s common for victims to develop a fear of driving or riding in a car, which can limit their mobility and independence.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: The combined physical and emotional challenges can severely impact the overall quality of life, affecting relationships, work, and social activities.

Economic Impact

  • Loss of Income: Long-term injuries may prevent a full return to work, leading to a loss of income and financial strain.
  • Medical Expenses: Ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and support services can be financially burdensome.

Social and Family Impact

  • Strain on Relationships: The stress and changes resulting from an accident can strain family and social relationships.
  • Caregiver Burden: Severe injuries might require long-term care, placing a burden on family members who may need to act as caregivers.

What Compensation and Damages Are Available to Car Accident Victims in South Carolina?

In car accident cases in South Carolina, several may be available to victims, depending on the specifics of their cases.

These types of compensation generally fall into the following categories:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation may be pursued for medical bills incurred due to the accident. This can include costs for emergency services, hospital care, surgery, medications, physical therapy, and any ongoing medical treatments related to injuries from the accident.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury causes the victim to miss work, compensation for lost wages can be claimed. This includes the income lost during the time the victim was unable to work due to their injuries.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: If the injuries have a long-term impact on the victim’s ability to work and earn money, compensation may be available for the loss of future earning capacity.
  • Property Damage: This refers to compensation for the repair or replacement of property damaged in the accident, such as vehicle repairs.
  • Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical pain and emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident. It includes compensation for physical discomfort, mental anguish, stress, and other forms of non-economic damages.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If the injuries prevent the victim from enjoying daily activities and hobbies that they used to participate in before the accident, compensation can be sought for this loss.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly reckless or egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. These are not tied to the actual losses suffered but are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

How Our Team Has Helped Victims of Car Accidents

The car accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm have helped clients across South Carolina get the compensation they deserve after being injured in car accidents.

In one case, our client was severely injured in a devastating crash involving a drunk driver in Mauldin, South Carolina. Our client tried to avoid the collision but was hit directly by the defendant’s company-issued truck, resulting in his vehicle spinning under a bridge and striking a pillar. Our client suffered significant injuries including a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures, acute blood loss anemia, and permanent hearing loss.

Joye Law Firm attorneys Melissa Mosier and Davis Rice challenged the insurance company’s denial of coverage by proving the negligence of the defendant’s employer in failing to restrict or monitor the use of company vehicles. Through investigation and a compelling presentation at mediation, our firm secured a $3,000,000 settlement for the victim, providing financial relief for the victim’s staggering medical bills and loss of earnings.

In another case our team handled, two sisters suffered severe and permanent injuries in a tragic car accident in Charleston, driven by reckless speeding. Attorney Mark Joye, head of Joye Law Firm’s Litigation Department engaged in a complex legal battle for compensation.

After extensive negotiations and overcoming unsavory insurance company tactics, a settlement of $2,417,500 was reached for the sisters. This case highlights the resilience of the victims and the critical role of experienced legal representation in achieving justice and securing the future medical care and compensation deserved.

Check out more of our case studies to see how we’ve helped other clients.

Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today

Just Call Joye Law Firm. Let the car crash attorneys at Joye Law Firm handle the insurance adjusters for you. Our firm first opened its doors in 1968 and since then, we have assisted tens of thousands of South Carolinians who have suffered injuries at the hands of reckless and inattentive drivers. Call us now or fill out an online consultation form. If you’ve been seriously injured in a South Carolina auto accident, you can trust our attorneys to work to get you the money and benefits you are entitled to.