Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?

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If you’ve been in an accident that you didn’t cause, you may be tempted to let your guard down and trust the insurance companies to do the right thing. Sadly, this often doesn’t work.

Even in situations in which it is abundantly clear that the other driver caused the wreck, insurers may do everything they can to deny fair claim payouts (even to their policyholders). It is therefore advised that you retain legal counsel to protect your interests and seek the maximum damages for your injuries.

Our Greenwood car accident attorneys at Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers are here to serve you and your family.

South Carolina Is an At-fault State: What Does This Mean?

Concerning car accident and liability insurance, South Carolina is an at-fault state. This means that the driver who causes a wreck is responsible for paying damages to the victim. Damage is a term referring to monetary compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

If the driver is insured, the victim can pursue a claim against his or her insurance company to pay for the damages. However, if the victim either had no insurance or was underinsured, he or she may be able to seek coverage through their own insurer’s uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) policy.

It’s also possible to file a lawsuit personally against the driver and other parties who may have caused the accident.

How to Prove You Are Not at Fault in a Car Accident

Although you may not have caused the accident, the driver or the driver’s insurance company may try to shift liability to you, and they have a strong incentive to do so.

South Carolina is what’s known as a comparative negligence state. While victims can still receive compensation, even if their actions were partly responsible for the accident, their award will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them.

If the fault exceeds 50%, a car accident victim in South Carolina is barred from recovering anything. Even if you have UM/UIM coverage, your insurer may refuse to pay if it believes you were partially at fault.

To fight back against attempts to blame you for the wreck, you will need evidence of the at-fault driver’s liability.

These are some ways a car accident attorney can dispute fault in your car accident:

  • Review the police report: Law enforcement will generate an accident report that contains vital details such as time and place, weather conditions, and any road hazards. Your attorney can obtain a copy of this report and use it to find other relevant evidence.
  • Examine photos and videos: If you’ve been in a wreck, try to take photos and record videos of the accident scene. There may be surveillance and other cameras that your attorney can also obtain.
  • Conduct discovery: Discovery is a process used to formally acquire relevant evidence from other parties. If a lawsuit is filed, your lawyer can use various discovery tools like depositions and requests for documents.
  • Speak to witnesses: Witness statements, especially from third parties who have no interest in the outcome of the accident, are powerful forms of evidence. Request the contact information of any witnesses who were present at the scene and then give it to your attorney.
  • Check phone and other digital data: If the at-fault driver was texting or using a cell phone while driving, it’s possible to obtain copies of relevant phone records. The same is true if the driver was using social media or email when the crash occurred.

How an Attorney Can Determine the Value of Your Case

Because the insurance company may try to pay the very least it can (or deny your claim entirely), you need to know the potential value of your accident case. Only then can you know whether the insurance company’s offer is fair. This is another essential role with which your attorney can assist.

Certain damages, like medical bills that have already been incurred or time you have missed from work, are relatively easy to calculate. These are known as economic damages.

Other types, which are called non-economic damages, are more subjective. Among these are pain and suffering, mental anguish, and reduced enjoyment of life. Although there is no hard and fast rule for determining the value of non-economic damages, judges and juries will consider various factors like the severity of the accident and its impact on the victim’s life. A knowledgeable attorney will understand these factors and how to argue them in your favor.

You also have the right to seek compensation for future losses you can reasonably be expected to suffer because of your injuries. Two common examples are future medical bills and lost earning capacity.

Expert witness testimony can help quantify how much these future damages may be worth. For instance, a medical expert witness can review your injuries and estimate the likely costs of the treatments recommended by your doctor. Meanwhile, a vocational expert witness can consider any physical and mental limitations stemming from your accident and what they could mean to your career prospects in terms of lost future income, benefits, and more.

Finally, some car accident cases are eligible for punitive damages. These are intended to punish the at-fault party for reckless and willful conduct leading to the wreck. If the evidence indicates that punitive damages are available, your attorney will make the case for them.

Remember, the lesser your degree of fault for an accident, the larger your settlement or award.

When It May Be Necessary to Go to Court

Your attorney’s goal is to win the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Usually, this is accomplished without the need for a trial. Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods can be used to obtain a settlement that covers your damages.

This isn’t always the case, however. Insurance companies are notorious for using various strategies to underpay and deny claims. If the insurer won’t negotiate in good faith, then we can take your case to court.

It’s important to understand that if you agree to take the insurance company’s settlement offer, you won’t get to seek more money later. Even if you believe you bore less responsibility for the accident after the fact, or your injuries were worse than initially projected, it’s too late.

You only have one chance to either settle your claim outside of court or go to trial. Either way, we are ready to go to work for you.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Dispute Fault in Your Case

Accident cases don’t always work out the way victims expect. A dedicated personal injury lawyer will know how to handle a car accident that isn’t your fault.

If you have found yourself on the end of unfair insurance offers and attorneys trying to blame you for the wreck, talk to the Hite Law Firm. Connect with us today to get started.

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