With close to four decades of combined experience in personal injury, Auger & Auger has literally helped thousands of car accident victims deal with unimaginable consequences. At your first opportunity, a call to our Charleston auto accident attorney will ensure that your rights and those of your loved ones are protected.
Auto accidents are by definition never intentional – that is, unless the at-fault driver is deliberately targeting someone. Inattention is the root cause of most car wrecks. Prior to cell phones a simple turn of your radio, reaching down to pick up an item on the floor of the car or changing the settings on the air conditioner were examples of the distractions that led to car accidents. In the modern era of smartphone usage – texting, reading email, making calls, and searching the web has taken over as the major cause of car crashes nationwide. However, the path to proving responsibility on another driver has not changed.
Although fault is initially determined by the investigating officer at the scene of a Charleston area car accident, that does not mean that the issue is final. There are many factors that may have led to the wrong decision: the officer may have been in a rush, assumed the cause of the wreck without investigating, only spoken with one of the drivers, failed to speak with an independent witness or failed to check any area surveillance cameras that may have captured the collision.
Although some types of accidents are clearly the fault of one party due to the way the accident occurred, most are not. A rear-end collision is the typical example of an easy determination of fault barring unusual circumstances. An intersection collision can be more challenging, especially when both drivers claim they had the green light.
The insurance companies and their team of well-trained claims adjusters will take over where the investigating officer left off; performing their own investigation if their client was the one held at fault. Their first goal is to attempt to get a statement from the injured driver or passenger. They are trained to ask questions that can be misconstrued and taken out of context to help minimize their driver’s fault – which in turn minimizes their own exposure for car repairs, medical bills and the injuries suffered by one of the parties involved.
There are many facts and issues which should be reviewed by a Charleston auto accident attorney to help you prove your case against the at-fault driver. The sooner you retain our services, the sooner we can send out or team to investigate the facts of the collision and gather the necessary information to help prove your case. You can help contribute to the best possible outcome by reading the following section:
The hours and days following a car accident in Charleston are extremely critical to your accident claim. The first thing to do is keep your cool — breathe in, breathe out — and assess which actions will ensure that your health (and that of others involved) is protected.
Call our office as soon after the accident as it is practical to do so, to obtain professional advice and answers to your immediate questions. Our team will be dispatched to the scene in order to document the facts for eventually proving your claim; such as interviewing witnesses, vehicle inspections and taking note of any incidental factors.
When it comes to carinsurancecomparison.com’s Worst Drivers in the U.S., the states are ranked by most fatal behaviors and fatality rates. South Carolina has fallen from 1st place in 2014 to 6th place in 2017 on this list. Now ranking in the better half at 29th for drunk driving, it has seen some improvement since Emma’s Law was passed in 2014. However, the state’s worst ranking was to be 1st in fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven.
The table below from city-data.com demonstrates the dominant number of these fatal accidents are taking place in Charleston when compared with South Carolina as a whole:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles extensive accident data, categorized by everything from gender to behaviors. Their 2015 Rural/Urban Comparison statistics shine a light on the fact that 72% of South Carolina’s 977 traffic fatalities have taken place on rural roadways.
Yes, you have the option of reporting your Charleston car accident within 15 days of your collision. You must download, complete, and submit form FR-309 in order to have an official record of your accident.
However, you should know that filing a report is different than calling a police officer to respond to your accident at the scene. Form FR-309 specifically states that all accidents reported through it are Not Investigated by Law Enforcement. This means that there won’t be a police officer to document possible causal factors of an accident. Any alleged at-fault drivers could dispute your claim that they caused the accident. Additionally, insurance providers may attempt to deny your claim since a formal investigation was not conducted. For this reason, you should always consider reporting the accident immediately after it happened and waiting on a police responder as your best option.
All medical insurance providers are required and will provide the primary coverage for your medical treatment and care after a collision in Charleston. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance that you purchased on your own or obtained through your employer. This does not let the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier off the hook. They are still responsible for paying your medical cost, and these costs should be included as part of the total settlement when your claim or case is resolved.
Your health insurer may have a right of reimbursement (typically referred to as subrogation) against your settlement, depending on the type over health insurance you have, as specified above. It will be your lawyer’s job to make sure all of the bills are paid and included in your settlement. It will also be your attorney’s responsibility to negotiate a reduction in your health insurer’s lien against your settlement, if applicable — putting more of the recovery in your pocket where it belongs.
The best indicator of which details are most important to document after a car accident is found on the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Collision Report (FR-309). Important details include the date and time of the collision, the location of the collision according to nearby intersections or mile markers, the weather and daylight conditions, your vehicle’s make and model, which areas were damaged, whether injuries occurred, whether other vehicles were involved, the make and model of other vehicles involved, the contact information of other drivers involved, the contact information of any witnesses, and any other pertinent observations, especially if another driver was suspected to be DUI or to have violated a traffic safety law.
You may wish to obtain legal representation after a car accident that has been documented as your fault. While the most common outcome is that your liability insurance will cover the damages and your premiums will rise, there is the possibility that someone can sue you directly for excess liability not covered by the policy. Your insurance provider will provide legal counsel and defend against any claims they feel should not be covered under the policy. Consider seeking your own legal representative if you feel like someone else is liable for your own damages, your insurance company refuses to defend against a bad faith claim, you are being threatened with a lawsuit by an outside party, or you feel like you were not at fault and should be entitled to damages.
Representatives of the liability insurance carrier you file a claim with will thoroughly investigate each and every claim they receive. This reduces the chances of fraud and affords them the opportunity to reduce the value of a claim by denying coverage for damages that allegedly don’t fall under their policy. Common areas investigated include: whether there is proof that the policyholder is at fault, whether the damages reported by the claimant are realistic, whether the injuries reported by the claimant directly resulted from the collision, whether the claimant had pre-existing conditions that would not be covered under the policy, whether the claimant’s medical treatments were all “reasonable and necessary”, whether the claimant contributed to their own injuries by not following doctor’s instructions, whether the claimant shared partial or complete fault for causing the accident, whether the estimated future costs documented by the claimant are realistic, etc.
Once you have contacted an Auger & Auger Charleston auto accident attorney, you can simply refer all parties directly to us. You can concentrate on your family and healing from your injuries, while we focus on you, our client.
We will be working on maximizing the compensation to which you are entitled, fighting to make sure you receive the proper medical treatment and recover damages to pay your medical bills and lost wages.
Whether a settlement negotiation proves to be your best route or a court case is necessary to present compelling evidence to a jury, our firm has a record of successful results recovering significant sums after severe accidents.
Call (843) 751-4690 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!