When a car accident occurs, victims must protect their rights and remember that the other side’s insurance company is not on their side. A single misstep when speaking to an insurance adjuster can be catastrophic. This is one reason why many South Carolina car accident victims choose to hire personal injury attorneys who can fight hard for them and look out for their best interests.
It should go without saying that the most urgent matter of concern following a car accident is making sure that everyone is okay. If someone is in need of medical attention, 911 should be called immediately.
Once that is done, the following tips can help ensure your rights are protected, and can minimize the opportunity for the other driver or their insurance company to take advantage of you.
Get a police report
It’s not uncommon for the at-fault driver to request that the victim not call the police. You should never agree to this. A police report is essential, as it will show when and where the accident happened. It can also contain other pertinent information including the drivers’ estimated speeds and direction of travel, which can prove to be vital pieces of data. Lastly, a police report will also contain any arrest information, for instance if the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash or was driving recklessly.
Remember, if someone is asking you to bypass the important step of calling the
police, they are probably up to no good. If you fail to get the police involved, it will
be much easier for the at-fault party to lie about their role in the accident and
potentially try to place the blame on you.
Gathering evidence at the scene of a crash has never been easier than it is today. Use your phone to take photos of how the cars collided, as well as detailed pictures of damage to both cars and anything else that could be used as evidence, such as damaged stop signs or guardrails, or skid marks on the road.
Exchange information with the other driver
Collect the other driver’s contact details, along with their insurance information. The police will document this information, but it’s a good idea to keep your own records as well.
Gather contact information for eyewitnesses
Witness testimonies are extremely valuable in car accident cases, so you’ll want to make sure you have the contact information for everyone who saw the collision unfold.
Don’t admit fault
Do not divulge too much information at the accident scene. Answer the police officer’s questions honestly, but don’t overshare or suggest that your actions caused the accident. The same goes for when you speak to your insurance company.
You are under no legal obligation to speak to the other side’s insurance company, so it’s best to avoid doing so. They will likely try to trap you into saying the wrong thing and will use those words against you.
Write down every detail
When you get home, grab a pen and write down everything you can remember about the accident. You’ll also want to record anything of relevance that the other side might have said. For instance, you might have overheard the other driver talking to their passenger about being on their phone when the accident occurred. These types of details can strengthen your case.
Notify your insurance company
Most insurance policies have language which states that policyholders must notify the insurance company in a timely manner following an accident. Be sure to play by the rules in order to avoid unnecessary delays.
Avoid posting about the accident on social media
The other side’s insurance company is not going to be happy about having to pay for your medical bills and property damage to your car, so they’re going to do everything they can to minimize the amount of money that comes out of their pocket.
It’s important that you take every precaution to prevent them from whittling down the amount of money they’re willing to pay. Avoid posting anything on social media while negotiations are taking place. What might seem like an innocent picture taken at a restaurant with friends could be used as “proof” that you aren’t as injured as you claim to be.
See a doctor right away
If you are injured, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Some injuries are not immediately obvious and simply can’t be identified without the proper medical evaluation. Make sure any doctor’s visits are well documented and the doctor’s notes include a detailed description of your complaints and any action taken.
If you’re in pain but choose not to go to the doctor, the other side will claim you aren’t actually hurt at all – so don’t try to be a hero. Get the medical care you need and get it fast. It’s also important to go to all of your scheduled doctor’s appointments and follow up on any referrals that your general practitioner might write for you. It will hurt your case if you have a history of ignoring your doctor’s advice or being a “no show” at appointments.
Don’t take too long to act
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims relating to car accidents has a limited timeframe. Don’t let time get away from you – and don’t forget that you and your attorney will need time before the deadline to build the strongest case possible.
Consider seeking legal help
Many car accident victims find it is extremely worthwhile to hire a South Carolina personal injury lawyer who will fight for them and keep their best interests at heart. Without a legal professional by your side, you will be left to communicate with the other side’s insurance company on your own – and that can be a losing battle. The other side will have teams of powerful lawyers, and none of them will be looking out for you. Hiring a South Carolina car accident attorney means you will have someone by your side who will take care of all the paperwork, negotiations, and communication. They’ll also be prepared to take your case to court if necessary.
Get a FREE consultation from a personal injury lawyer
Many people shut down the idea of hiring an attorney after their car accident due to the perceived cost. This can be a big mistake, particularly because most personal injury law firms offer free, no obligation case evaluations to car accident victims. Most South Carolina personal injury lawyers also work on a contingency basis, which means they receive nothing unless they help secure money for you.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates proudly serves those who have been involved in car accidents in the Palmetto State. We have seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, and we have an excellent track record of helping victims receive what they’re rightfully owed.
Every case is different, but our lawyers regularly help car accident victims receive compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Lost or diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Permanent disability
- Punitive damages
We also represent families who have lost loved ones due to accidents caused by other people’s negligence or recklessness. Although we realize that no wrongful death settlement can bring back a loved one, we believe that no family should have to worry about the costs associated with funeral and end-of-life expenses when they are in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has been working with car accident victims for more than four decades, and we treat every client like family. We consider it an honor to represent victims during some of the hardest moments of their lives. When we take over the legal legwork, our clients can focus on what truly matters – their recovery.
We offer free case evaluations to car accident victims. Give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®