The experienced attorneys at Whetstone Perkins & Fulda are available and ready to help you after your car crash. Our combined experience and resources enable us to represent our clients aggressively and thoroughly, obtaining the best possible results. Below, find a few tips about what to expect in the days and weeks following the accident, and what you can do to make sure your medical care and lost wages are paid for. For a free case evaluation with our South Carolina law firm, please call 803-799-9400.
The Immediate Aftermath
If you've ever gotten in a wreck before, you know how overwhelming the experience can be. It's important to try to remain calm. You may feel angry, afraid or anxious, but try to take a breath and establish what to do next.
You should leave your car and get out of harm's way, as long as it is safe to do so. Be very cautious not to step into traffic or open your door into traffic. Call 911 if anyone involved in the crash is injured, even if all they report is dizziness and disorientation. You should call the police and ask them to come to the scene, regardless of the extent of injuries. They will decide if the accident merits their presence.
Here are a few common concerns at the accident scene:
What information should I exchange with the other driver? Here are two important points: DO NOT admit fault or apologize for the accident. DO NOT describe or explain the policy limits of your auto insurance or other details of your coverage. Here are the things you can and should exchange with the other driver:
- Your name and their name
- Phone numbers
- Mailing addresses
- Email addresses
- License plate numbers
- Insurance companies and policy numbers
- Names and contact information for any eyewitnesses
- Location of the accident
- Name of the responding police officer
This information can be vital following the accident, as you try to determine what coverage you are owed and what is happening with your claim. You should also use your phone to take photos of the accident scene, damage to vehicles and any injuries you suffered. Get medical attention as soon as possible and contact our attorneys to find out what you should do next.
Deciding Whether to Hire a Lawyer
Some accident victims never contact a lawyer. They take what the insurance company offers them and move on. In some situations, this makes sense. In others, it is a dire mistake. If you've been in an accident and aren't sure, we encourage you to call our law firm. For free, we will discuss your accident with you and let you know if you have a claim.
Generally speaking, the most minor crashes, involving minimal to non-existent injuries, may not require a lawyer. A minor fender-bender or the like may not have the chance of a large compensation award, and you may be able to resolve the claim and move on easily on your own; however, there are always exceptions and you should ask our attorneys about your case even if you feel it is not serious.
More significant accidents involving catastrophic injury often benefit from the representation of an experienced lawyer. The injured victim's monetary award tends to be greater, and chances of obtaining this compensation in the first place tend to be greater. We stress that each circumstance is unique, and a claim evaluation is necessary, but generally speaking, one or more of the following conditions are a good indication you should call a lawyer as soon as possible:
- Serious injury
- Expensive-to-treat injuries
- Your insurer is not acting how you would expect
- Your insurer blames you when you know the other driver was at fault
- You are seriously injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver
These things indicate that you may have an uphill battle in getting the insurance payout you need and deserve. They also indicate serious scenarios in which an insurance adjuster may try to reduce or deny your claim, or blame you for the accident.
Aspects of Accident Claims Unique to South Carolina
Each state is different. In our state, here are some of the things that may affect your claim, and that our attorneys can help with:
- Statute of limitation: This law tells you how long you have to file a lawsuit. After the time limit is up, it is impossible or extremely difficult to go to court to ask for compensation for your injuries. For the most up to date information, please call our law firm to find out if your accident falls within the timeframe allowed.
- Fault laws: We are known as a "fault" state. This definition refers to our tort liability. It means the injured driver who is not at fault can seek compensation from the person who is at fault. We also have a comparative negligence rule1, which means if you are deemed to have contributed in any percentage to the accident, then any compensation award is reduced by that same percentage.
- Dram shop liability: If someone was over-served at a bar, restaurant, liquor store or similar business, the business may be responsible for any resulting accidents caused by the drunk driver. This is known as dram shop liability. The drunk driver must have been visibly too intoxicated, and it must be clear they should not have been served and that the bartender (or waiter or liquor store clerk) clearly should have known.
There may be other state regulations that are relevant to your case. After discussing the situation with you we will be better equipped to identify those issues.
Ready to find out if you have a claim in South Carolina? We aggressively advocate for accident victims from across the state, including the cities of Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Kingstree and the surrounding areas. For your free review, please call 803-799-9400.