Car accident claims are the most common type of personal injury case. The physical, financial and emotional consequences of a crash can be devastating for victims and their families. When someone else is responsible for the accident, South Carolina law says they are liable for the damages they cause.
If you recently suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, our Charleston car accident lawyer can explain how civil law applies in these cases and what you need to prove your claim. At Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney, our team knows the importance of strong legal representation and will fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Can Our Charleston Car Accident Lawyer Do for You?
Our job is to protect your rights and advise you through the legal process. While every case is different, the essential duties of our Charleston car accident attorney include:
- Investigating the accident independent of the police and insurance company to find evidence of negligence
- Identifying and valuing the economic and non-economic damages resulting from the accident and your injuries
- Collecting the evidence needed to prove negligence and damages
- Handling all negotiations and communications with the insurance company
- Preparing your case for trial and representing you in court if the insurer does not offer a fair settlement.
A reasonable attorney offers objective professionalism and compassionate support. We recognize the need for aggressive protection from insurance companies acting in bad faith to avoid a substantial payout and allow victims and their families to focus on healing while we fight for them.
What Types of Car Accident Cases Does Our Team Handle?
Car accidents come in many forms, typically categorized by the point of impact, and can occur under various circumstances. Understanding how the accident happened is crucial for determining who is at fault and responsible for the resulting damages. Our team handles every type of car accident. We know where to look for blame and what evidence we need to prove it.
Rear-end and head-on collisions
Rear-end collisions are a frequent case for our Charleston car accident lawyer. Most result from following too closely, and the driver in the back is nearly always at-fault. While many rear-end accidents result in minor fender benders, crashes involving commercial vehicles at any speed can have devastating consequences.
Head-on collisions occur less often but are among the most severe types of car accidents seen by an auto accident lawyer. The point of impact often makes these crashes severe. The causes can vary, making either party potentially liable for the collision and resulting damages.
Sideswipe and T-bone collisions
A sideswipe accident occurs when two vehicles riding parallel collide at the side. They may ride in the same or opposite directions, and a sideswipe can happen when both cars are in motion or when one is in a parked position.
The reasons for a sideswipe crash can vary, but driver error is often the cause. Common examples include:
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to change lanes for traffic merging from a ramp
- Driving aggressively
- Making a lane change without checking for other vehicles
T-bone collisions, otherwise known as side-impact crashes, most commonly occur at intersections. One vehicle collides head-on with another vehicle’s side, creating a T-shape. Running a red light or stop sign is the most common cause, and an experienced Charleston car accident lawyer knows where to look for evidence of a traffic violation.
Hit and run accidents
Hit and run accidents are arguably the most frustrating for the client. With the help of video footage and eyewitness testimony, locating the party responsible for the accident is often possible. Running from the scene of an accident to avoid accountability is a criminal offense, but the offender can face civil charges simultaneously, holding them legally and financially responsible.
Distracted driver accidents
Distracted driving comes in three forms:
- Visual distractions divert the driver’s eyes away from the road. This diversion can be something in or outside the vehicle.
- Manual distractions cause the driver to move their hands from the wheel, commonly the radio, a cell phone or food.
- Cognitive distractions cause the driver to lose mental focus, including everything from daydreaming to drunk driving.
Distracted driving can cause any type of collision, including cases involving injured pedestrians and bicyclists. When one party is significantly more vulnerable than the other, the resulting damages can be severe.
Collisions involving rideshare vehicles
Accidents involving vehicles used for ridesharing can be more complex than other accidents. Uber and Lyft are prominent transportation sources for people in Charleston, and the drivers use their personal vehicles. If you suffer injuries in an accident where the at-fault driver is an Uber or Lyft driver, you may need to file a claim with the company’s insurance provider. Our Charleston car accident lawyer has experience fighting insurers for large companies that want to avoid paying a significant claim.
Wrongful death cases
South Carolina defines wrongful death as one caused by the wrongful or negligent actions of another party. If you lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence in a car accident, state law allows the executor or administrator of their estate to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.
With the help of an auto accident lawyer, the executor can recover compensation for the financial and emotional impact of your loss. While the executor is responsible for pursuing the claim, surviving family members, in order of spouse and children, parents and heirs, can recover damages.
What Are Common Injuries From Car Accidents in Charleston?
Injuries from auto accidents can vary drastically depending on several factors. The most common injury is whiplash, occurring when the forceful back-and-forth movement of the head and body causes micro tears in the neck’s soft tissue. The result is painful swelling and stiffness in the neck.
Other common injuries from auto accidents include:
- Broken bones and fractures: These can vary in severity, with some requiring a temporary cast and others needing corrective surgery and extensive healing time.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Head and TBIs are among the most severe injuries. Common examples include concussions, skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhages, diffuse axonal injuries and penetrating injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: Back injuries can include damage to muscles or vertebrae. The most severe injuries damage the spinal cord, sometimes resulting in temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Burns, bruises and lacerations: These injuries can occur anywhere on the body, and the severity can vary significantly.
- Muscle strains and sprains: Muscle injuries are common, even in minor collisions, and can cause debilitating pain.
This is not a comprehensive list of potential injuries. The more severe the injuries are, the greater the resulting damages. Our Charleston car accident lawyer helps clients understand how their injuries and the losses they incurred due to those injuries directly impact their claims. We also work with clients to collect evidence to prove these losses.
Who Is Liable for a Car Accident?
South Carolina is an at-fault auto insurance state. This means the party responsible for the accident is directly liable for the losses of anyone who suffered injuries or damage to property as a direct result of the at-fault driver’s actions. The person filing the claim or lawsuit against the negligent driver is also responsible for proving the other driver is liable for damages they suffered.
Proving fault in an auto accident case
One advantage of hiring legal representation to help you build your case is that you have a professional to help gather the evidence proving the three requirements for a negligence claim:
- Duty of care: Your evidence must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care when the accident occurred. In South Carolina, operating a vehicle on shared roads automatically means the driver owes a duty of care to ensure their actions are reasonably safe for other drivers.
- Breach of their duty of care: In a car accident case, violating a traffic law would constitute a breach of duty. For commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, violating industry regulations, such as the hours of services requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would also be a breach of duty.
- Causation: You must also connect the at-fault party’s breach of duty directly to the accident, the accident to your injuries and your injuries to the damages you claim.
An experienced Charleston car accident lawyer knows where to look for adequate evidence to support each element of a car accident claim and correctly value losses to ensure you receive a fair settlement covering your losses.
Modified comparative negligence in South Carolina
Can you still recover damages even if you are partially responsible for the accident? Yes, but only if you are less than 51% at fault. South Carolina law applies the modified comparative negligence rule, known as the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act.
Due to factors of joint and several liability, the court calculates a percentage of fault for all parties involved in the accident. As the plaintiff, you are still eligible for compensation if you are 50% or less at fault. If, for example, the court awards $20,000 in damages but finds you 30% at fault, you can recover 70%, equaling $14,000.
What Compensation Can You Recover for a Car Crash in Charleston?
The court refers to the recoverable losses associated with personal injury claims as compensatory damages. These include the economic and non-economic consequences of your claim.
Every accident has unique circumstances, but most share common economic losses:
- The cost of current and future medical care, including hospital stays, doctor visits, emergency services, medications and rehabilitative treatments
- The loss of current and future income, including the loss of earning capacity caused by permanent disability
- The cost of repairing your damaged property or replacing it when it is beyond repair
- The cost of any necessary replacement services, such as transportation to and from medical appointments, in-home help and childcare during recovery
You may need medical bills, repair estimates, pay stubs, tax returns and receipts for replacement services to prove these damages.
Non-economic damages are not as easily quantified as economic losses. Examples include the pain and suffering you endured due to your injuries and medical treatments. It also covers the accident’s impact on your mental health, such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, loss of enjoyment in life and mental anguish.
Adequately valuing these losses is essential for your claim. Overinflating their value can hurt your claim, and underestimating their value will result in an insufficient settlement or award. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can protect your right to fair compensation for these critical losses.
When Should You Contact Our Charleston Car Accident Lawyer?
It is never too early after a collision to contact Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney. Our legal team helps victims of negligent drivers fight to recover their losses and start rebuilding their lives.
As a former federal prosecutor, attorney Trey Harrell will take the fight all the way to trial if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement that accurately reflects your losses. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Charleston car accident lawyer today.
Car Accident Case FAQs
What do you say at the scene of a car accident?
Apart from giving the police a statement regarding what happened and asking for contact information from witnesses, you should avoid speaking to anyone at the accident scene. In the heat of the moment, you may unintentionally say something that could damage your claim or imply guilt when there is none.
Do you need a police report?
In South Carolina, you do not need to report a minor accident, such as a fender bender, to the police. However, the law mandates that any accident resulting in injuries requires a police report. If you want to file a claim for damages resulting from injuries, you will need that report.
How many car accidents occur in South Carolina every year?
An average of one traffic collision occurs every three to four minutes in South Carolina. That is close to 150,000 auto accidents every year. This is why our Charleston car accident lawyer has extensive experience in this element of tort law.