Is it worth it to sue after a car accident in South Carolina?
Car accidents can result in significant financial losses, physical injuries, and emotional trauma. Accident victims deserve the best chances possible at recovering all of these losses. Fortunately, there are legal actions available for those wrongfully harmed by another driver’s negligence behind the wheel.
Depending on your situation, you may choose to file an insurance claim to collect a settlement to manage your accident-related expenses. Sometimes, though, filing an insurance claim isn’t the most direct way to seek damages from the at-fault party. When filing a claim meets with a dead end or is not a viable option, you may consider pursuing a car accident lawsuit instead. When that’s the case, you will greatly benefit by having a South Carolina car accident lawyer by your side.
Should You Sue After a Car Accident?
According to the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book, there were 141,096 traffic collisions throughout the state in 2019. Nearly 40,000 crashes resulted in some degree of injury, and 927 were fatal.
The good news is those accident victims and their loved ones have legal rights and options after a wreck. While you have every right to pursue a car accident lawsuit after a crash, not every claim requires direct legal action. Suing after a car accident is often unnecessary, particularly if no one was hurt and the other driver has car insurance that is ready to pay you for all damages. In those types of situations, the insurance company will likely reimburse you for any damage to your vehicle and other losses you have experienced.
There are, however, instances where it is in the victim’s best interests to pursue a lawsuit. If, for example, you file a claim with the opposing driver’s insurance company and it was denied, or you were offered a meager settlement, legal action could be called for. If you were seriously injured and are now dealing with accident-related expenses like hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, it could also benefit you to file a lawsuit in terms of maximizing your compensation.
While every case is different, filing a lawsuit may be the most appropriate route to recovering damages when those damages are significant. This might be the case if your injury led to several weeks of hospitalization, you have a permanent disability, your ability to earn revenue if impacted in the long-term, or you have lost a loved one as a result of their accident injuries.
Ultimately, whether it is worth it to pursue a lawsuit after a car accident is based on the factors of the crash and the severity of your injuries and losses. When you consult with a personal injury attorney, they will be able to advise you on your options and help you determine how best to proceed to recover your losses.
A Lawsuit Doesn’t Have to Mean a Court Case
One important concept for people recently involved in a collision to remember is that filing an insurance claim against a negligent party doesn’t automatically mean your case goes to court. In fact, filing a lawsuit is typically not how the majority of personal injury accident cases are resolved. Lawsuits are generally a result of liability disputes and when an insurance company refuses to pay an injured party the fair damages they are entitled to. Additionally, a lawsuit is a legal avenue to show an insurer or another defending party that you mean business.
Once the lawsuit process begins, both parties are able to seek out information through discovery that might otherwise be kept confidential. They may also be able to file certain motions to expedite the case or request summary judgment compelling the payment of a valid claim.
In any event, suing someone can be a legal strategy to further settlement discussions. Some cases settle as late as the morning before a trial is to begin. When an insurance company is sued, they often return to the negotiation table, to consider the merits of the case for claimed damages, and to put forth additional settlement offers to avoid more time and expense.
It is also important to know that should your case go to trial, you can then request a specific amount for jurors to consider when ultimately deciding your final injury award. This situation can place the final amount of damages outside of the control of the insurance company. Knowing this, an insurance company may reconsider their settlement offer or risk a result of higher awarded damages. Each case is different, so always discuss the specific expectations you may have with your accident attorney.
Who Do You Sue After a Crash?
If you choose to file a lawsuit after your car accident, who you are able to sue is mainly based on state law. In South Carolina, suing after a car accident most often means suing the allegedly at-fault driver. Their insurance company will be tasked with defending them in court.
In some instances, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against someone other than the driver. That could happen if the vehicle owner is different from the driver, and there is evidence to suggest the owner should not have allowed the driver to operate the vehicle. For instance, if they knowingly let someone under the influence of alcohol drive their car.
It is important to note that you must take action before the statute of limitations has passed, regardless of who you sue. If that deadline passes, you will have most likely rendered yourself ineligible for compensation. If you have questions about a statute of limitations after you have been in a car accident in SC, call an experienced South Carolina accident attorney to help you determine the statute of limitations in your specific case.
How Are Car Accident Lawsuits Decided?
Liability is the most crucial factor in determining the outcome of a lawsuit. To be considered liable, your lawyer will need to prove that the other driver was negligent under the preponderance of evidence legal theory. The preponderance of evidence theory means the standard of proof needs to be greater than 50%, or that it is more likely true than not that the defendant was responsible for your crash damages.
The four elements required to prove negligence include the following:
- Duty — All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. This ensures that other drivers, passengers, and property are not harmed while driving.
- Breach of Duty — Once you have established that the driver owed you a duty of care, you must prove that they breached that responsibility. Examples include distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence.
- Causation — Causation refers to the injuries and losses the victim suffered due to the at-fault driver’s actions. Common injuries include broken bones, traumatic head injuries, whiplash, and more.
- Damages — The accident victim must provide they suffered legally recognized harm from the accident, like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To prove damages, your lawyer may use medical documentation, as well as the police accident report.
Your lawyer will investigate your accident and build a case that seeks to prove the opposing driver was at fault for your accident and the resulting injuries, with the ultimate goal of obtaining total and fair compensation for your losses. Depending on the complexity of your case, your attorney may consult outside experts, like medical professionals or accident reconstructionist, to get a clearer picture of what happened in the moments before, during, and after the wreck.
Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are traumatic events. They can cause tremendous burdens for you and your family. Fortunately, the attorneys at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers are here to help and support you if you choose to pursue legal action, including a car accident lawsuit.
Our team has experience helping the residents of South Carolina recover total compensation for their accident-related injuries and losses. You should not have to be responsible for those expenses when the crash was not your fault.
Whether you are interested in pursuing a claim against an insurance company or filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver, we are here to see how we can help. When you contact us, we will provide straightforward, honest answers to help you make the best decisions for your family and your future. If you decide to work with our firm, we will work with you on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay us anything unless we win your case. To schedule a free, no-obligation, and no-pressure consultation, use our online form or call us at 800-559-5741.