If you drive in South Carolina, there is a very good chance that you will be involved in an auto accident. According to CAR INSURANCE COMPARISON, South Carolina has
the third worst drivers in the entire United States and the state is first in traffic
fatalities. South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation for speeding and
careless driving. According to the South
Carolina Department of Transportation, there is an auto accident in South
Carolina every 4.4 minutes and a fatal car crash every 11.6 hours. In other words, the roads in SC are very dangerous.
Hopefully you are conscious and not seriously injured. If that is the case, remain in your vehicle and determine if any of your passengers are seriously injured. Do not try to move anyone that may be injured unless there is danger of the vehicle catching on fire. If your vehicle is operable, turn on your flashers and safely move it out of the roadway onto the right shoulder. Call 911 and apply first aid to any of your injured passengers. ONLY IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, exit your vehicle and assist anyone that is injured in another vehicle that was also involved in the car crash. It is not unusual for another vehicle to collide with a previous car accident or to hit someone that is trying to assist in an car crash.
Next, you want to take pictures of the accident scene including the tag numbers of the other vehicles. If there were any witnesses, be sure to get their names and contact information. While you want to cooperate fully with the investigating officer, you do not want to make any admissions of fault. You may not be aware of all of the facts and making any admissions to the police, the other driver or to witnesses, no matter how harmless the statement may seem at the time, could damage your insurance claim. For example, you tell a witness “I just did not see them”. Later, that could be used to say that you were not keeping a proper lookout and therefore partly at fault for the accident. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.
After an auto accident, it is likely that you will receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company or possibly your insurance company. The first thing that they will want is your permission to record the call. The answer is NO. This is true even if it is your auto insurance carrier. Insurance companies make money by not paying claims. Any statement that you make can be twisted and possibly used to deny coverage. Any statement that you give an insurance adjuster should only be made after you have consulted with a South Carolina auto accident attorney.
You may be able to negotiate your accident claim yourself if it is what is called a “soft tissue injury” rather than what is called a “hard injury claim”. For example, if you were in a minor car accident with minimal property damage and only have sore muscles for two or three days, you do not have a personal injury claim with sufficient damages for an attorney to take your case on a contingency basis. The bottom line is that if you aren't injured or you are only slightly injured there won't be sufficient damages for a lawsuit. Hard injuries include broken bones, damaged organs, permanent scarring, deep cuts requiring stitches, or other serious injuries that affect your quality of life. In most serious auto injury claims, hiring an attorney is your only choice if you want to recover reasonable compensation for your damages. Insurance companies routinely deny claims even when their insured was obviously at fault, such as a rear end accident, and even when you have significant injuries.
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