It only takes a moment for a negligent driver’s poor decision to upend your life completely. If you have been involved in a crash and are wondering about the possibility of financial recovery, you are not alone. Accident victims throughout South Carolina are often left feeling like they do not know where to turn.
Every car accident is unique. As such, there is no standard value for a claim. This can be frustrating for accident victims who want to recover and put the accident behind them as quickly as possible. To make the situation more manageable, it is advisable to seek guidance from legal professionals.
That is where Auger & Auger comes in. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are well-versed in accident and fault laws and are prepared to help you with your case. When you work with us, we will strive to ensure the settlement offer you receive covers all car accident-related expenses and losses.
For accidents in South Carolina, victims may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, other related financial losses, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. However, know that the state operates under a comparative negligence variation, which affects your ability to collect compensation for those losses.
Per state law, you can only recover damages for a personal injury claim if your share of the fault for a crash is 50% or less. This means that your lawyer will need to prove the opposing driver was more at fault for the crash than you were in order for you to be eligible to receive a monetary award.
In addition to the percentage of fault, another aspect of the law affects your compensation total. Any percentage of fault on your part is deducted from your final compensation. Say, for example, your final damages were valued at $100,000 but you were found to be ten percent at fault for the crash. As a result, your compensation would be reduced by ten percent, and you would only be eligible to receive a maximum of $90,000 for your losses.
When you have an attorney by your side, they will work to ensure fault is distributed correctly based on the evidence at hand. Should an insurance company try to increase your percentage of liability in order to reduce your settlement, your attorney will work hard to investigate your accident, document who was actually at fault, and help you seek the maximum damages available, to the extent possible. Another important factor that is not dicussed is what happens when the person that hit you is uninsured.
Once it has been clearly established that you were not at fault for the car accident, the next factor to consider when determining the value of a claim is the extent of your injuries. The injuries suffered in a car accident vary significantly depending on the type of crash, the size difference between the vehicles, and the victim’s age and overall health.
In general, more severe injuries result in a more significant case value. For example, an accident victim with a sprained wrist and mild whiplash is likely to receive a smaller settlement than someone who sustained a traumatic brain injury or permanent impairment or disfigurement.
When it comes to determining the severity of your injuries, your attorney will consult with your physician to collect your medical records for review. They may also interview other medical experts to see the type of lasting impact your injuries could have on your ability to work and enjoy life. This information can then form the basis of a claim for not only your past injury-related expenses but any projected to affect your life in the future.
As your lawyer will tell you, it is often unwise to settle your car accident claim until you have completed your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of the extent of your injuries and any future care you will require in order to value your injuries properly.
If your injuries are severe, the insurance company may seek a maximum medical improvement (MMI) prediction. MMI refers to the point at which a victim has either completely recovered from their injuries or is stable with a clear picture of their medical future, including ongoing treatments, physical limitations, permanent disabilities, etc.
If you have yet to reach your MMI, it is advisable not to settle your claim until you have, at the very least, a defined understanding of the extent of your injuries. If you were to sign a settlement agreement or release of liability before reaching your MMI, and your injuries turned out to be worse than you first thought, you would not be able to go back and demand more compensation in nearly all circumstances.
What you say about your car accident to responding police officers, emergency medical teams, and insurance companies can significantly impact your compensation. When it comes to the individuals assisting you at the scene of the accident, stick to only what you know to be true. Avoid speculating, placing blame, or apologizing. Simply tell them what you remember and nothing more.
If you need to speak with an insurance adjuster about your accident, remember that their goal is likely to pay out as little as possible to you. As such, never say anything that could imply accident responsibility on your part, and avoid social nicety statements that could be turned against you. For example, if they ask how you feel and you say “fine” instead of “I am in pain,” then that statement may be used as a basis to reduce any compensation for pain and suffering. Also, remember never to agree to provide a recorded or written statement detailing your version of the events.
To avoid any statements affecting your settlement award, it is best to let your attorney handle conversations that need to take place after the accident. They will know how to navigate tricky conversations and ensure your case is not put in jeopardy. Again, speak to an attorney before contacting any insurance company!
While the average car accident settlement varies based on injuries, fault, documentation, and more, the attorneys from Auger & Auger firmly believe that victims deserve full and fair compensation for their losses.
No matter the extent of your injuries and damages, we are prepared to evaluate your case, determine your legal options, and guide you through the process of filing a claim. We understand how challenging the weeks and months following a crash can be, which is why we will handle the paperwork and insurance conversations, so you have the opportunity to focus on healing. The sooner you get in touch with Auger & Auger after a crash, the sooner we can start to try and help you move forward after your car accident. To get started, contact us online or call us today at 800-559-5741.