Joye Law Firm can help you through the confusion and strain that follow a serious car accident in South Carolina. Our personal injury attorneys put more than 110 years of combined legal experience toward helping injured people just like you recover not only the money they are entitled to, but also their lives.
Let us help you, too. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about car accidents in South Carolina. If we can provide you with more information, call Joye Law Firm. You can reach us by phone or fill out an online form for a free review of your case.
I was in a car accident and have been told I should get a lawyer. But I have car insurance. Won’t my car insurance cover my needs after an accident?
If things worked exactly as they should, you would be able to collect the maximum amount of money available from the other driver’s insurance and/or your auto insurance. But there are several reasons why you should not expect this to happen.
First, if the other driver was at fault, you will most likely look to his or her liability insurance to pay your claim. South Carolina requires drivers to carry liability insurance with limits of at least $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 for the bodily injuries of all persons in one car accident and $25,000 for all property damage in one accident.
Unfortunately, many drivers on South Carolina roads do not have even the minimum required car insurance. Your uninsured motorist or under insured motorist coverage (UM / UIM) should pay you if you were hurt by a driver with no liability insurance or too little, or if you were hurt by a hit-and-run driver.
UM coverage is part of your liability coverage in South Carolina, but UIM insurance is not required in our state. If at all possible, you will want to add this coverage to your policy. It is relatively inexpensive and can help ensure that all expenses are covered after a wreck with a driver who does not carry enough insurance to pay all your bills. You might also have collision coverage, which would pay for damage to your car.
Insurance companies are more interested in their bottom lines than providing you with a maximum payout. There are many ways for an insurer to avoid paying the full value of a claim,one of which is South Carolina’s modified comparative fault system. If an insurance company lawyer can show you contributed to your accident, any claim you have may be reduced according to the amount of blame you shoulder.If the insurer says you had most of the blame, you could be denied any compensation.
An experienced South Carolina car accident attorney, such as ours at Joye Law Firm, can work to compel the insurance companies involved in your accident to provide proper payments. Our work would include investigating how your accident happened, calculating all of your costs, and addressing any comparative fault on your part – or ensuring that none is found where it does not exist.
South Carolina personal injury law uses a system known as “modified comparative fault.” Your share of blame in a car accident would be determined, and any compensation you receive would be reduced according to your percentage of fault. This means whichever party in a lawsuit has stronger evidence or does a more persuasive job presenting it usually fares better.
Let’s say you have been in an accident caused by another driver who ran a stop sign and hit you in the middle of an intersection. That driver was clearly negligent. But, insurance company lawyers for the driver who hit you have found out that you were speeding. Had you not been speeding (driving negligently), they argue, you would have been able to stop before reaching the intersection where their client ran the stop sign, so your negligence contributed to the crash.
According to South Carolina law,if you have 51 percent or more of the apportioned blame, you are not eligible for compensation. If your share of the blame was less than 51 percent, the amount of money you can recover is reduced by the percentage of fault you had in the accident. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages and you were found to be 10 percent at fault, you could recover $90,000. If you were found to be 45 percent at fault, you could recover $55,000. (Dollar amounts are for illustrative purposes only.)
The decision about how much you were at fault can greatly affect the amount of money you can recover for your car accident injuries. It could even prevent you from collecting anything.
The car accident attorneys at Joye LawFirm approach car accident claims with our clients’ best interests in mind. We often use accident reconstruction experts, witness testimony and other evidence to show that our clients’ fault was less than the other drivers’.
Read more about partial fault in South Carolina car accidents.
I was in a car accident and the other driver was at fault. His insurance company says it can send me a check right away. Should I take it?
No. If you receive a settlement offer quickly after a car accident, it is probably the insurer’s attempt to close your case cheaply and move on. Most likely the amount of the check is too low to cover your losses. If you accept it, you agree not to seek further compensation – even if you later discover that your losses were much greater than you first thought. You should have a lawyer review any insurance offer before you accept it.
Remember, the insurance company wants to resolve your claim as quickly and inexpensively as possible. A quick offer will not take into account the full extent and cost of your injuries. You may not even know yet whether your injuries will have a long-term impact that keeps you from returning to work or requires you to take a job that pays less. You may need ongoing medical care because of your injury, or assistive devices (for example, surgery, a walker, wheelchair or hospital bed) or in-home nursing care.
Talk to an attorney before accepting any compensation from the other driver’s insurance company or even your insurance company, and before making a sworn or recorded statement. By doing either, you could unwittingly cost yourself money that you need and deserve.
An experienced car accident attorney from Joye Law Firm can evaluate your case and develop a claim that takes into account all of the compensation you deserve for current and future needs. Once you hire Joye Law Firm, you can turn all of your dealings with insurance companies over to an attorney who is looking out for your best interests.
I was severely injured in a serious car accident two years ago, but my life has been so chaotic that I have been unable to think about hiring a lawyer until now. Can I still file a claim in South Carolina?
Yes, you can, but you need to take action now. South Carolina law says that you have three years from the time of your accident to file a personal injury claim in court. But you must take into consideration the time it takes to develop the case for a car accident claim, as well as other time limits that may apply.
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are complex. There is time-consuming work that goes into preparing a claim. The investigation behind a lawsuit includes looking into the accident to determine how it happened, and the other driver’s role. This may include technical work by accident reconstruction consultants, as well as work to review police records, interview witnesses and more.
In some cases there is a third party who should be held liable for a car accident. That would require developing a separate claim before time runs out.
The other key work required in a personal injury investigation is determining your losses so we know how much to ask for. Compensation you are due may include money to repair or replace your car, pay your medical bills, cover lost wages during your recovery and compensate you for your pain and suffering. This requires study of your medical records by experts who can project future medical costs and losses in cases of serious injury or disability. For cases of permanent disability, your projected costs would be outlined in a full life-care plan.
Each case is different, and some can be developed and settled faster than others. But it is always better to get started as soon as possible. We urge you to contact Joye Law Firm about your case today.
If they are a direct result of an injury you suffered because of the defendant’s negligence, your lawsuit could request compensation for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and, in some cases, punitive damages. Here are the details about each type:
- Property damage, which in most car accident cases means repair or replacement of your vehicle. It could also include money for other property damage, such as damage to your cargo, a boat or trailer you were towing, a bicycle or motorcycle you were riding, or to your home or other real property if a car crashed into your home.
- Medical expenses, including reimbursement for ambulance transport, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs, rehabilitation therapy (physical, vocational, occupational), medical and assistive devices (crutches, wheelchair, hospital bed, modifications to your home, etc.), in-home assistance and more.
- Lost wages from not being able to work or for having to take a job that pays less because of an accident-related disability. Depending on your previous employment, job skills and education, a projection of future losses may take into account fringe benefits (including retirement fund contributions), and lost opportunities for bonuses, commissions, promotion and other career growth.
- Pain and suffering, which considers the physical and emotional stress you experience because of your injuries separately from your financial losses. This decision is often based on a multiple of medical damages. In some cases you could also obtain compensation for disability, disfigurement and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages are awarded under particular circumstances to punish a driver whose actions were particularly bad, such as a drunk driver or a hit-and-run driver who was later caught.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, immediate family members may seek the damages described above, as well as money for funeral and burial expenses, loss of household services, and loss of companionship, love and guidance.
A judge or jury would decide the actual amount of money awarded if your lawsuit went to court. Settlement negotiation would take into account what the courts would likely award.
Read more about damages you can recover in a South Carolina personal injury lawsuit.
There are several things you can do after a car accident to protect your rights and safeguard your ability to obtain the money you deserve for your losses. In short, you should establish and keep records of every aspect of your accident and injury.
First, report your accident to police and get a copy of their report when it’s available. Contact your auto insurance company to start a claim. See a doctor about your injuries. Each of these steps establishes the facts of your accident and injuries.
If you need emergency care, getting it is your first priority. Even if you don’t think you have been injured, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some serious injuries do not show symptoms right away.
If you can, get photos or video of the accident scene and your injuries. Get contact information for any witnesses. Make sure to find out where your vehicle has been towed so that investigators can examine it and preserve important evidence.
Keep records and receipts of every expense connected to your accident and injuries. Keep a written or video diary of your recovery. Go to all your doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions.
Avoid making posts to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that could undermine your case.
You should also contact a car accident lawyer who has experience with South Carolina personal injury law. An attorney will work to protect your rights to be compensated for your losses.
How you will pay for a lawyer is truly the last thing you need to worry about after a car accident. Joye Law Firm offers free claim reviews, and unless we win or settle your case, you don’t pay for our legal services.
The car accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm work on a contingency fee basis. This means the legal fees paid by our clients are basedonthe compensation we obtain for them.
If we believe we can represent you successfully in a legal claim and you agree to retain our services, we will enter into an agreement that specifies costs and a percentage of the final settlement or court award that will serve as our legal fee. You don’t pay us until your case is closed.
But our work for you begins with an initial legal consultation that is absolutely free, even if we do not proceed with a claim on your behalf.
At Joye Law Firm, we are dedicated to our clients. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you can trust our South Carolina accident attorneys to treat you with respect and work hard to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call Joye Law Firm now or contact us through our online form to get started today.