Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you know how devastating the aftermath can be. Your car may be severely damaged and, more importantly, you may suffer catastrophic injuries. Even a wreck as minor as a fender bender can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and whiplash.
After the collision, you may feel like you have no one to turn to and very few options to recover the money you have lost. The insurance company may send you a settlement offer, but chances are it will be a lot less money than you deserve — in fact, it may not even cover all of your bills. On top of that, you may be hesitant to call a lawyer to represent you. After all, if you can’t afford to even repair your car, how will you have money to pay a lawyer?
At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, our experienced car accident attorneys charge absolutely nothing upfront. We only get paid if we win your case, and you never have to pay out of pocket. Our payment comes from the settlement or verdict we are able to win for you. As such, our sole focus is to get you the most compensation possible. That’s been our policy for over 26 years, and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
If you have been injured in a wreck, give us a call today at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
How Much Is Your Case Worth?
Though our lawyers have represented thousands of car accident victims throughout North and South Carolina, there’s no way for us to say exactly how much your case is worth. Every situation is unique, with its own factors and circumstances that will influence how much compensation you’re owed. However, our lawyers do know what types of compensation, or damages, they will fight for.
The first type of compensation is called economic damages. Economic damages are intended to compensate your for the real monetary losses you suffered because of the car accident. For instance, your lawyer may fight for lost wages, medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and more. Because you will have bank statements, receipts and other evidence, economic damages are generally easy to prove.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to prove. These are intended to compensate you for your losses that aren’t related to money, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, and more. Because there isn’t much physical evidence to prove noneconomic damages, your lawyer will consult experts to prove the losses you suffered.
In rare instances, punitive damages may be assessed as well. Punitive damages are intended to punish the person who caused the accident, and to deter similar behavior in the future. In North Carolina, you must prove that the person who caused the accident did so with malice or willful/wanton conduct. South Carolina is similar; you must prove the accident was caused by willful, reckless or wanton conduct. These are high standards to meet.
In North Carolina, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages (that is, combined economic and noneconomic damages), or $250,000, whichever is greater. In South Carolina, the limit is three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. However, there are some exceptions to this South Carolina limit.
Car Accident Statistics in the Carolinas
In North Carolina, there were more than 275,000 car accidents in 2017. These wrecks resulted in about 1,400 fatalities and almost 128,000 injuries. The most common cause for accidents was speeding, which was involved in a third of all accidents that year. Lane departure was another common cause, resulting in 22 percent of all accidents. Finally, distracted driving was the cause of nearly a fifth of all accidents.
That same year, there were about 142,000 collisions in South Carolina. These collisions resulted in almost 1,000 fatalities and more than 60,500 injuries. By far the most common cause of accidents was speeding, which resulted in nearly 42,000 accidents. Second was failure to yield right of way, which caused more than 27,500 accidents. The third-most common cause of accidents in South Carolina was improper lane usage or change, which resulted in more than 11,000 wrecks.
What to Do After a Car Accident
If you have been involved in a car accident, your first instinct will likely be to panic, especially with so much adrenaline coursing through your veins. But you will be able to operate better and process the situation more clearly if you take a deep breath and calm down. Check on everyone in the vehicle to determine if anyone is injured. If you or your passengers are seriously injured, DON’T MOVE THEM unless their life is in immediate danger, such as if the car is on fire. Call 9-1-1, request an ambulance and wait for help to arrive.
However, if you are not seriously injured, move to a safe location, such as the side of the road. While you’re waiting for 9-1-1 to arrive, check on the passengers in the other vehicle(s), following the same procedure as above. Be sure to also take as many photos as you can of the damage to the cars, your injuries, road and weather conditions, and anything else you may think is important.
When the police arrive, provide a statement that details exactly what happened, but avoid adding in your opinion about who was at fault. Be sure to get evaluated by the EMTs and follow their treatment instructions — including going to the hospital if they say so. You should also follow up with your regular doctor in the following days.
You should also trade your contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved in the wreck. While you’re talking to them, DON’T APOLOGIZE or otherwise admit guilt! Simply trade information and get a picture of their license plate (and their driver’s license, if possible) so they can’t claim they weren’t involved in the wreck.
Unfortunately, you will also need to deal with your insurance provider. When you call the agent, provide only the bare minimum information, including your contact information and the time and place of the accident. Remember, they will be recording the conversation to try to lower their payout. Provide the barest amount of information, then tell them to speak with your lawyer for further information.
Finally, call an experienced car accident attorney. Even if you aren’t sure if you need legal representation, the accident and injury lawyers at Auger & Auger always provide free, no-obligation consultations to discuss your case. During that consultation, we will help you decide the best path forward.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens when the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Though most states require drivers to have automobile liability insurance, some people avoid this law and drive despite being uninsured. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 13% of drivers are uninsured in the United States. Some states have far more uninsured drivers than others, such as Florida with 27% uninsured drivers.
If you’re in an accident in a no-fault state with an uninsured driver, your insurance will cover certain damages even if the accident is not your fault. If you’re in any other state, your options for seeking financial restitution may be limited. While seeking legal help is always a good idea after a car accident, a driver without insurance is unlikely to have a lot of assets to target when going into a lawsuit. On top of that, your insurance may not cover you if the accident is not your fault. For these reasons, you should consider buying additional insurance that covers accidents with uninsured drivers, referred to as uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
How long does it take for insurance to pay medical bills?
Insurance companies can take days or even weeks to offer a payout after an accident, depending on a variety of factors. In some cases, they will want to work directly with medical care providers to pay for your care, and in others, they will simply cut you a check to reimburse you for your expenses. Be careful about accepting a settlement from an insurance company too quickly, however! They know you’re trying to pay medical bills in a timely manner, and they may attempt to get you to settle for less than you need to fully recover. No car accident lawyer can tell you exactly how long it will take to receive a settlement from the insurance company, but it’s usually better to consult with legal representation before signing a release and losing out on a higher potential payout down the line.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a car accident?
There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not a lawyer is necessary in your car accident case. As a rule of thumb, you’re usually more likely to get a higher settlement offer with legal representation than without, so utilizing the free consultation most law offices offer is a good start when determining if an attorney is worth it in your case. One thing to consider is that insurance companies all have big legal teams that help them save as much money — by denying you as much money — as possible. As soon as an insurance company gets involved and starts sending you releases to sign, it’s a good indication that a lawyer can help you determine if a larger settlement is possible, particularly if your injuries and damages are severe. Even in minor cases, an attorney can advise you on rejecting or accepting the initial offer from insurance companies.
Can an uninsured motorist sue me?
Driving uninsured is against the law in nearly every state. Usually, uninsured motorists will prefer not to report accidents, even when they are not at fault. Despite this, if the accident is your fault, you are still liable for damages caused in an accident in at-fault states. An uninsured driver may file a claim, but your insurance company would likely report the other driver’s lack of insurance to the state in retaliation. They may also report the accident to the police, but that too will likely result in punishment for their lack of insurance. Though it’s unlikely, an uninsured driver may attempt to take legal action after an accident you caused. In this case, a good move would be to get in touch with a lawyer to help you prepare a possible legal defense against liability for the accident’s damages.
Should I tell my insurance company about a minor accident?
If you’re in an accident with another vehicle resulting in any damages, you may be required by law to report the accident to your insurance company, depending on your state. Even if this isn’t the case in your state, it’s still a good idea to report accidents to your insurance company, especially if there is anything more than superficial damage. Otherwise, your insurer may consider dropping you from their policy, and in extreme cases, they could even take legal action.
If only your property was damaged or no other drivers were involved in your accident, contacting your insurance company may not be as much of a necessity. In any other case, contacting law enforcement and informing your insurance company after an accident is always the safest route to take.
How is fault determined in an accident?
Depending on the severity of the accident, the fault will be examined closely by the insurance companies and legal parties representing the drivers. A common source for these investigations is the police report, which should be created by law enforcement arriving at the scene of the accident after you request an emergency dispatch. The officer should interview both drivers and any witnesses, as well as document the scene of the accident. From there, it will be determined if either driver was breaking any traffic violations or breaking any other laws. If either driver openly admits fault after an accident, this will also be used as evidence.
Most states use comparative negligence rules when determining fault in accidents, meaning each party will be assigned a percentage of the blame for an accident, anywhere from 0% to 100%. Some states bar recovery for individuals who share a threshold of blame, which can be anywhere from 50% to just 1%. Other states, like Florida, allow for recovery in proportion to the other party’s percentage of fault, even if the injured plaintiff assumes 99% of the blame for the accident’s cause.
How does a car insurance payout work?
If you have medical or vehicle expenses due to an accident that you’re not responsible for, the other driver’s insurance will usually cover those expenses based on your state laws and insurance obligations. Usually, an adjuster or mechanic will determine the amount the repairs or replacement of your vehicle will cost and your medical care provider will determine the costs of any health services or therapies.
From there, the insurance company will likely offer a settlement that you can choose to accept or deny. In some cases, the insurance carrier will offer to pay the repair shop and/or care provider directly. Should you choose to accept, you will not be able to seek damages beyond the initial settlement. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer before signing anything the insurance company sends you. This way, you can make sure you’re being adequately compensated by the insurance company for the damages suffered after a car accident.
Do you have to call the police after a car accident?
If you’re ever in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is contact the police and request an officer at the scene. They should send an officer who will interview both drivers and write a report on the accident. Though this is only legally required in most states when there’s an injury or vehicle damage is expensive enough (usually $1,000), it’s a good idea to make sure the scene of the accident is adequately recorded in case there are unknown injuries or damages that are discovered later. When you try to file a claim down the line, your chances of receiving the maximum possible settlement go down significantly if the police were not called to the scene. Some insurers may even deny coverage if there was no formal police investigation.
What does a car accident attorney do?
If you’ve recently been in a car accident, you know that they are some of the scariest experiences people go through every day. On top of the pain and suffering you may be dealing with due to an accident, you may have unpaid medical bills and property damage weighing on your mind. A car accident lawyer will help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation possible when looking to cover medical expenses, lost wages and future work, pain and suffering, and vehicle expenses.
An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to provide you peace of mind during this difficult time. They should be able to answer any questions you’ve got with confidence and understanding while advising you each step of the way towards the settlement you need.
What kind of doctor should I see after a car accident?
If you’re not taken to the emergency room after your car accident, one of the first things you should do is see your primary care physician. If you don’t regularly see a doctor, you should still schedule an appointment at an urgent care facility or another medical professional within one day of your accident. From there, you should follow all of your doctor’s advice and go to any followup appointments they recommend with a specialist. It’s important for you to see a doctor early so you can document any injuries sustained in your accident, as well as learn how to maximize your chances at a speedy recovery.
Talk to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Auger & Auger has been helping car accident victims throughout the Carolinas get the compensation they deserve for over 26 years. We know what it takes to fight the insurance companies both in and out of court, and we’ll use all of our resources to make sure you are represented effectively.
Give us a call today at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Personal Injury Cases.