In order to obtain compensation for damages suffered in a car accident, you must file a claim with the insurance company that represents the at-fault driver. Although each car accident presents a different set of circumstances, the process for filing a claim is very similar in most cases.
The following are common steps involved in filing a car accident claim:
- Identify the insurance carrier. The other drivers involved in the accident should provide you with the correct information regarding their liability insurance carriers. This information might also be available on the police report regarding the car crash. In some cases, the insurance information might be unavailable or inaccurate. Also, many motorists don’t have any insurance, despite state laws requiring mandatory minimum liability coverage. In situations like these, a South Carolina car accident lawyer can help you track down any coverage that might be applicable.
- Notify the insurance companies. As soon as you are able, it is important to notify both your own insurance company and the other driver or drivers’ insurers about the accidents. Failure to notify the insurance company in a timely fashion could bar your claim. While you should promptly report the accident, you should avoid giving any recorded or written statements about the crash to any insurance company — even your own — without the advice of a car accident attorney.
- Don’t accept a quick settlement. An insurance adjuster representing the at-fault driver might approach you with a quick settlement offer in hopes of making your claim go away. Even though it might look like a lot of money, don’t accept an offer from the insurance company without first consulting a South Carolina personal injury lawyer. The full consequences of serious personal injuries usually take time to become completely evident. Don’t sign away your rights before you fully understand the extent of your damages.
- Determining negligence. “Negligence” is the legal term used to refer to blame, responsibility or fault in a personal injury accident. Although you may be convinced that the other driver was 100 percent at fault in the collision, the insurance company may not agree. In order to maximize your recovery, you should work with a car accident lawyer who can independently investigate the accident and support your claim for the full and fair compensation you deserve.
- Valuing your case. Before you submit a demand to the insurance company for compensation, you need to determine what your case is worth. Contrary to popular belief, there is no “magic formula” that determines the value of a car accident claim. You must consider numerous factors in order to arrive at a realistic starting point for negotiations. The type and extent of your physical injuries, the extent of damage to your vehicle, lost wages, medical bills, expected future medical expenses and the emotional impact the collision had on you are just a few of the factors that you must consider when valuing your case.
- Negotiating your claim. Do not try to negotiate a settlement until you have reached the end of all medical treatment and you have a written diagnosis and prognosis for the future from your physician. The economic portion of your claim, which represents out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills and lost wages, is often easier to negotiate. The non-economic portion of your claim, which is what most people think of as “pain and suffering,” can be much more difficult to determine. A victim is often unable to remain objective enough to negotiate this portion of the claim. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement or bring a claim in court if the insurance company will not agree to full and fair compensation.
Injured in an Accident? Let the Louthian Law Firm Help You
If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. South Carolina law on car wrecks is complex, and the deadline for filing a claim can be short. You should speak to the Louthian Law Firm as soon as you think you may need an auto accident lawyer.
We have defended the rights of accident victims and others injured in South Carolina since 1959, and we’re committed to providing personalized service to you while aggressively going after wrongdoers. And because we know how financially devastating an accident can be, we never charge you a dime until your case is won.
For a free evaluation of your case, call us today toll free at (803) 454-1200. You can also fill out our online contact form.