The time following an auto accident is stressful and overwhelming. It starts from the moment you get into the accident, and it may last for months or even years. There is nothing simple about recovering from the injuries, addressing property damage, proving liability, or seeking fair compensation for your losses. You’ll likely face tremendous medical expenses, lost wages from the time you have to take off of work, missed income opportunities for the jobs you aren’t able to seek or accept, the stress of losing your transportation, and the pain and suffering of your injuries. In many cases, you will even experience significant psychological trauma, including the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, which could impair your ability to drive, ride in a vehicle, or simply function as you used to from day to day.
With all of this going on, you can easily be overwhelmed by the process of seeking compensation from the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver and/or through the legal system. Even in the best case scenarios, where the damage is minimal and your suffering and trauma are not too severe, where you are able to return to work rather quickly, and where your property damage is not so severe that you’ve completely lost your transportation, this process can still be complicated. You may be tempted to settle your claim quickly, for less than it is worth, without getting an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Many people make this mistake, just to be done with the whole thing and move on with their lives. Yet, it is a mistake, because they usually don’t end up getting the compensation that they deserve, and will therefore end up with medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages that are not covered.
The only sensible thing that you can do when you are faced with the aftermath of an auto accident is to seek a free consultation with a South Carolina auto accident attorney. If it so happens that your case is not severe enough to warrant the intervention of a lawyer, then the attorneys at The Law Offices of Steven M Krause PA will certainly let you know and put your concerns to rest. However, as is far more likely, if you would benefit from the representation of an experienced attorney, we will make sure that you have the legal advice, guidance, and representation that you need to recover the maximum amount of compensation on your claim.
While the benefit of an attorney on your side can make all the difference, there are still some things that you’ll need to know and terms that you’ll want to be familiar with as we work together to pursue the compensation that you need and deserve after a South Carolina auto accident. Following, are the most relevant terms and expressions that you’ll encounter.
The term, ‘Tort,’ refers to any action or lack of action that constitutes liability for associated injuries and damages. Sometimes, it is negligence, and other times, it is an intentional act. If someone is negligent, then they have acted in a way that would cause harm, or failed to act in a way that would prevent harm. A negligent tort might be a driver who doesn’t yield the right of way, a driver who speeds, a driver who is distracted, or a driver who is drowsy. In such cases, the driver either acted in a dangerous manner (speeding, for example) or failed to act in a manner that would prevent danger (failing to yield right of way, for example). An intentional tort might include aggressive driving behaviors, such as running someone off the road.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, and you are pursuing a claim for compensation, then you are alleging that the other party was negligent. In doing so, you assume the burden of proof. This means that it is up to you to prove that the other party was negligent, that this negligence caused your damages, and also the value of your damages.
You cannot simply say, ‘That driver was speeding, and this caused the accident, which resulted in my injuries, which resulted in $5,000 in medical bills.’ Rather, you must be able to say, ‘I can prove that the other driver was speeding; I can prove that this caused the accident; I can prove that the accident caused my injuries; I can prove the value of my damages; and here is my evidence that all of these claims are factually true.’
Because you have the burden of proof, you’ve got to gather evidence, including witness statements (get the contact information of witnesses), photographs (take pictures of everything), medical records, property damage estimates, proof of lost wages, and more.
South Carolina is a ‘Fault’ state, which means that you must turn to the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver when an auto accident causes injuries and damages. Yet, you may have heard of ‘No-Fault’ states, where each driver is required to turn to their own insurance policy, regardless of who was actually the at-fault in the auto accident. In such states, drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) on their auto insurance policies, and they will not have to prove negligence, because they wills imply turn to this coverage for compensation. Because South Carolina is a ‘Fault’ state, you have to carry liability coverage to address any damages that may result from an auto accident in which you are the at-fault driver.
While the information here can help you get started in understanding what to expect from your South Carolina auto accident claim, there is much more to know, and you probably still have a lot of questions. Many of your questions are going to be specific to your own auto accident and the associated claim for compensation. Call The Law Offices of Steven M Krause PA to schedule a free consultation and get all of your questions answered by an experienced South Carolina auto accident attorney.
Steven Krause is a personal injury, auto accident, and workers’ compensation lawyer who practices in Anderson, SC. He graduated form the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and has been practicing law for 40 years now. Steven Krause believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience here.