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What to Do After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC

Date: September 22, 2021
What to Do After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC 1

Car accidents happen every day, and they all result in varying degrees of damage or injury. While some accidents bring only minor injuries, others can completely alter the lives of those involved. 

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Columbia, South Carolina, and surrounding areas, negotiating your personal injury case with an insurance company is a must. But that process can be challenging and stressful, especially if you’re still in treatment and recovery. 

In order to get all the details sorted, you may find it helpful to speak with a Columbia, SC attorney who specializes in car accidents. In the meantime, here’s a basic guide for what to do after a car accident in Columbia.

What Information Should I Document After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

After a car accident, you’ll want to document any important information that could help you prove your case and allow you to get a good settlement. Here’s a list of things to make sure you have:

Pictures 

If you are able, take pictures of the vehicles involved before they are removed from the road. Make sure you get pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, and any debris or marks still on the road. All of these pictures could help determine where the vehicles first made contact and who was at-fault. 

Police Report

Always call the police and get a police report filed. Some at-fault drivers will try to convince you that the police aren’t needed and they’ll personally handle everything without getting insurance involved. This usually won’t work, and they won’t reimburse you fairly. 

Contact Information

For future reference, you’ll want to get contact information from the other driver(s) and any witnesses involved. Make sure to get their name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance policy number.

Hospital or Doctor Records

If you’ve suffered an injury related to the accident, get the medical care you need and make sure the doctor accurately records all of your injuries. Do this as soon as possible, as some insurance companies may reduce the value of a personal injury claim if there is a gap in treatment. 

Expense Reports

Document all of the expenses you pay or owe related to the accident. This could be medical or chiropractic treatment and expenses, physical therapy, medications, lost wages, and/or travel expenses and mileage.

How Do I Determine Fault in a South Carolina Car Accident?

When it comes to car accidents, South Carolina is a fault state. This means that the driver determined to be at-fault is responsible for all the damages caused by the collision. In order to prove another drive was at-fault, you need to prove the following information:

  • Duty – The other driver had a duty to behave according to a certain standard of care.
  • Breach – The other driver violated that duty and standard of care.
  • Damages – There are injuries and/or damages caused by the breach of duty.
  • Causation – The damages you want reimbursement for were a direct result of the other driver’s negligence.

Negligence can be difficult to prove, especially if multiple drivers made mistakes. According to South Carolina law, there are different types of negligence:

  1. Negligence – The other driver failed to act like a reasonable person would have under the same or similar circumstances, thereby causing injury and damages. 
  2. Per se negligence – The other driver violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation and someone was hurt as a result.
  3. Modified comparative negligence – If you’re partially at-fault, but not more than 50%, you may still file a claim for compensation, but your reimbursement may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

How Do I Pursue Legal Action After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

If you’d like to pursue legal action after a car accident in South Carolina, the statute of limitations (“SOL”)  generally allows you up to three years from the date of the accident to do so, however, in some circumstances the SOL is only two years. Regardless, you should check with a qualified attorney immediately to pursue and protect your claim. For injury and property damage cases, this clock starts running on the date of the accident. For a wrongful death claim, this clock generally starts running on the day of the victim’s death. 

Pursuing legal action can be a lot to manage on your own. Even if you think you have the knowledge to do it yourself, the law can throw curveballs at you. It’s best to get in touch with a local Columbia car accident lawyer.

What Are Mistakes to Avoid Making After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

In order to get a good settlement, there are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid making after a car accident. Here are a few of them to be aware of:

  • Don’t go without a police report. You need this documentation in order to get a reasonable insurance settlement, and anybody who tells you they’ll handle it personally probably won’t do it right. 
  • Don’t put off medical attention. The longer you wait, the less reimbursement money you may get for it. 
  • Don’t accept a settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company too soon. It’s best to wait at least a month or more after the accident to ensure you don’t have any lingering injuries that should be accounted for. Obviously do not settle the claim if you are still treating and you do not know what your future medical treatment and expenses will be.Don’t write about the accident on social media. Sometimes defense lawyers will hunt on social media for something to use against you. 

If you’ve been in an auto accident, it can be difficult to remain calm and be able to collect all the information you need for your insurance, car repairs, and/or personal injury claim. Bernstein & Bernstein has experienced, local Columbia, South Carolina car accident lawyers ready to help you. Give us a call or contact us online and we’ll help you through the process.