Auto Accident FAQ
The moments and days directly after an accident can be critical when it comes to holding the at-fault driver accountable in a future claim or lawsuit. Though many victims may be injured and in shock after a collision, there are specific steps they or their family members can take to protect their rights and secure legal help.
The attorneys at Anastopoulo Law Firm have answered frequently asked questions and compiled best practices here for those who have been in automobile accidents. The following FAQs will help you understand the actions you can take after a car accident if you’re seeking to secure compensation from the liable party.
What Steps Should I Take Immediately After a Car Accident?
If possible, you should take multiple steps at the scene soon after experiencing a car, truck, or motorcycle collision. They include:
Addressing Your Injuries
The first step is to address your and others’ conditions. If injuries occurred, it may be necessary to call 911 and request an ambulance. Even if you do not seek treatment at the scene or at the hospital, it’s vital to have a doctor examine your injuries in the hours or days after the collision. Some injuries take hours or days to fully develop, such as whiplash and bruising.
Seeking medical attention gives you official documentation that shows you were the victim of an auto accident. Such records are crucial evidence in a successful insurance claim or lawsuit, as they outline the injuries you sustained and the treatment you require.
Reporting the Accident
After seeking medical attention, you will need to contact law enforcement, so a police report is conducted. According to S.C. Ann. § 56-5-1270, you must report traffic accidents in South Carolina within 15 days when:
- Someone is injured.
- A death occurs.
- There is property damage of $1,000 or more.
Similar rules apply when accidents occur in North Carolina. However, if law enforcement comes to the scene, you may not need to complete this step yourself.
Collecting Information and Evidence From the Scene
Taking this step may not be possible if you are severely injured. If you can, the more information you can collect at the scene, the more evidence our attorneys will have to start building your case.
Note the exact location of the accident and take photos of the accident scene if it is safe to do so. Photos and videos of the damages and positioning of the vehicles can provide clues about how the collision occurred and who was responsible. We can collect additional evidence from there.
What Information Should I Collect From the Other Parties Involved in My Car Accident?
We advise that you collect the following information from the other parties involved following the accident, if possible:
- Names, addresses, phone numbers, and other contact info of all drivers
- All involved vehicles’ license plate numbers
- Vehicles’ makes, models, and colors
You also want to record the names and contact information of any accident witnesses. Witness testimony could be extremely helpful in future legal proceedings.
What Should You Not Do After an Auto Accident?
You must be careful in what you post, say, and do after an auto accident—the insurance companies will take this information into account when reviewing your claim. In some cases, your words may be taken out of context to suggest that:
- You are not as injured as you claim.
- Your injuries are not related to the accident.
- You are responsible for the collision.
That’s why when you hire us, our team takes over any contact you have with the insurance adjusters. Our goal is to protect your case from such claims and preserve your right to damages.
Can I Receive Compensation Even if I Did Not Suffer Any Physical Injuries?
Even if you have not sustained a personal injury, you may be entitled to damages. You could seek compensation for any damage that occurred to your vehicle because of another driver’s negligence.
You may also be entitled to damages for mental anguish and pain and suffering. If your car accident resulted in the death of another occupant of the vehicle, such as your spouse, you could be entitled to loss of consortium and other relevant damages, as well.
Will I Be Required to Go to Court to Receive Compensation for My Injuries?
Whether a trial is necessary in your case largely depends on whether the insurance company refuses to offer a fair out-of-court settlement. We can assist in your insurance claim submission to the other party’s insurer. The goal is to negotiate a settlement that addresses the damages you suffered and expect to suffer in the future.
However, if the insurance provider disputes the cause of the accident or your injuries, you may need to have a jury review the facts and make a liability determination. A trial could also be necessary if the insurer offers a lowball settlement and refuses to negotiate further.
In addition, you may have to go to court to seek damages if the liable party does not have enough insurance coverage. In some cases, the other driver may not have insurance at all. Our attorneys will help you navigate each of these situations.
How Much Should I Expect From My Car Accident Settlement?
The specific factors of your car accident case will determine the damages you could recover. As such, our team will need to review the facts before we can give you a fair estimate of your potential settlement. In general, we seek compensation for the following on a client’s behalf:
- Medical treatment and emergency transportation
- Pain management
- Disability and disfigurement
- Income loss during the recovery period
- Diminished earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Each of these damages requires specific steps for determining value. Our attorneys will help you identify and calculate each one to give you an idea of your possible settlement amount.
How Long Do Insurance Claims for Car Accidents Take to Settle?
Insurance claims can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to settle, depending on:
- The complexity of your case and how long it takes to investigate
- The strength of the evidence in your claim
- The severity of your injuries and damages
- The insurance company’s willingness to offer a fair settlement
For example, claims requesting higher settlement amounts for severe injuries will likely require more negotiating. The insurance company has more of a reason to reduce or deny the value of your claim to owe you as little as possible.
Regardless of the details, you will need to be mindful of the deadline to file a lawsuit in your case, as the time to do so is limited.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Each state sets deadlines for filing various types of lawsuits, including those involving car accidents. These are known as statutes of limitations. Some states even outline separate time limits for fatal accidents.
For example, South Carolina outlines a general three-year deadline for both personal injury and wrongful death cases. While North Carolina outlines a similar personal injury timeline, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years in most cases. Once the deadline in your car accident case expires, you lose the right to pursue compensation from the liable party.
When Is the Best Time to Contact a Car Accident Firm?
Because your window to file a lawsuit begins on the day of your accident, our team prefers to get started right away. Time is valuable when building a personal injury case, so it is never too early to hire a lawyer—which is why our firm takes calls from prospective clients 24/7. You can call any time, day or night, and receive a free consultation with a team member regarding your case.
The South Carolina auto accident attorneys at Anastopoulo Law Firm provide the compassionate and transparent legal representation you deserve. We never want your questions to go unanswered or your concerns unaddressed.
If you are ready to explore your legal options for holding a negligent driver accountable, call us at (800) 777-7777 for your free case evaluation.