When a person is involved in a car accident caused by someone else, they often file a personal injury claim with the hope of recovering compensation for the financial, physical, and emotional damages they have suffered. However, not every accident is serious enough to warrant legal action – and you aren’t guaranteed a settlement just because you file a claim.
Car accidents range in severity, from minor “fender benders” to catastrophic collisions that lead to serious injury and death. If a driver is lucky enough to walk away from an accident without any injuries, they probably don’t need to take legal action. If there is damage to their vehicle, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will most likely pay for it to be repaired, or they’ll “total” it, if the repairs are estimated to cost over a certain percent of the value of the car. This percentage varies from company to company. This is not always a straightforward process. There are several sources that value vehicles, so it is always smart to check multiple outlets and negotiate with the insurance company.
But not everyone is lucky enough to walk away from car accidents without any injuries. Many South Carolina drivers are seriously injured or killed due to the actions of other drivers, leaving them with mounting medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and other health-related expenses. Many car accident victims also experience pain and suffering which can include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and scarring, permanent impairment, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just to name a few.
In these situations, car accident victims often benefit from filing a personal injury claim to help recover compensation for the financial, physical, and emotional hardships caused by the accident. Securing compensation can be an uphill battle, as insurance companies will attempt to downplay the victim’s injuries in an effort to avoid paying out a fair sum. That’s why South Carolina car accident victims are highly advised to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advocate for them every step of the way.
The Importance of Evidence
When attempting to reach a settlement in a personal injury claim, it’s imperative to gather and present all relevant evidence. Personal injury lawyers are highly skilled at gathering evidence, including the following:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Photos & videos from the accident scene
- Doctor’s notes
- Medical records & bills
- Prescription & over-the-counter medicine receipts
- Medical testimony
- Expert testimony
- Accident reconstructionist testimony
- Evidence of lost wages
- Dashcam and/or surveillance footage
Your attorney will gather evidence about your current physical and mental state, and also your projected future outcome. For example, if a medical expert says you will likely need further medical care in the future, those estimated costs need to be factored in when negotiating a settlement with the other side’s insurance company.
It’s important to note that South Carolina is a comparative negligence state, so even if you played a partial role in the accident you can still receive compensation – just as long as you were 50% or less at fault. If you played a role in the accident occurring, your award will be reduced accordingly.
The Art of Negotiation
Once your attorney has gathered the relevant evidence, they will enter into negotiations with the other side’s insurance company. While the ultimate goal is to reach a settlement outside of court, your lawyer will be prepared to take your case to court if needed. The good news is that most South Carolina car accident cases do settle outside of court.
You must remember that the other side’s insurance company will likely try every trick in the book to avoid paying out a fair sum. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer who knows what your case is worth and will fiercely negotiate on your behalf.
When you let your lawyer take over all the legal responsibilities, you can put all of your energy towards your recovery.
Why Insurance Companies Want to Settle
Insurance companies are usually eager to settle outside of court because they care about their bottom line. Settlements cost less than trials, which makes them highly appealing to insurance companies. Settlements also avoid the unpredictability of trials, since there’s no way to know how much a jury will award a plaintiff. Put simply, settling outside of court allows the insurance company to better control their risks.
However, car accident victims should be aware that insurance companies will often try to make quick settlement offers because it saves them time and money. When they do this, they require the injured person to sign a release in which they waive their right to sue. Accepting a quick settlement is never a good idea, because the insurance company never starts with their highest and best offer. They might tell you that they’re making a “final offer,” or that there’s no room for negotiation, but that’s rarely the case. Don’t fall for these tricks. They are simply designed to pressure you to accept a low-ball sum.
Always speak to a personal injury lawyer before signing anything from the insurance company, and don’t answer any phone calls from the insurance company. One misspoken word in a phone call could seriously hinder your case. Let your South Carolina car accident lawyer take care of all communication with the insurance company.
If both sides can agree on a settlement, that’s great for everyone involved because it’s faster, less risky, and less stressful. But if the insurance company refuses to play fair, your lawyer will take the case to court.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates Today
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has been representing South Carolina car accident victims for over 40 years, and we’ve seen every type of personal injury case. We know when it makes sense to file a personal injury claim, and we assess what each case is worth before entering into negotiations with the other side’s insurance company.
Our personal injury lawyers understand the importance of building a strong case in order to achieve the best outcome possible. We gather evidence and fiercely negotiate so that our clients have the best chance of receiving the compensation they’re rightfully owed.
We treat our clients like family, looking out for their best interests and communicating with them every step of the way. Our goal is to settle outside of court, but we’re always prepared to take the case to court if the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement amount.
Although every car accident case is different, our South Carolina car accident victims often receive compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Prescription drug costs
- Medical equipment costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Directly related out-of-pocket expenses
- Physical pain & suffering
- Emotional pain & suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral costs (in the event of a wrongful death case)
We are extremely proud of the work we do for our clients, and our strong track record speaks for itself. McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, and we would love to hear your story and advise you on your next steps.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates offers free case evaluations to South Carolina car accident victims. There’s no obligation to hire us – but if you do, you won’t pay anything unless we help secure money for you.
Give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®