Being in a car accident is stressful, but it is important to stay calm and focused immediately after the wreck. We’ve written this article to provide guidance after a car wreck in South Carolina so you can get the treatment you need, seek a fair recovery from the insurance company, and ensure all your legal rights are protected.
If you were injured in a car accident, the Law Office of Kenneth Berger is here to help. We focus on life-changing injury and wrongful death cases and are committed to making sure our clients are treated with respect throughout their case. If you have any questions about your case, please contact our South Carolina injury lawyer at (803) 790-2800 for a free consultation. We take great pride in serving our community and want to make sure you get the help you need to secure a full, fair recovery after a car accident.
Table of Contents
- What to Do at the Scene of the Accident After a Crash ↓
- How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident? ↓
- What To Know About the South Carolina Police Accident Report and the FR-10 Form ↓
- Dealing with the Insurance Companies After a South Carolina Car Wreck ↓
- Seeking Medical Care After a South Carolina Car Wreck ↓
- Can I Seek Compensation For Property Damage If I Was Not Injured? ↓
- What Should I Know About South Carolina Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage? ↓
- Compensation You Can Receive for Car Accident Injuries in SC ↓
- Should I Hire an Injury Lawyer After a Car Accident? ↓
- How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Injury Lawyer After a Crash? ↓
- What It’s Like Working with Our Car Accident Attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger ↓
- If you are able, move all the cars involved in the wreck out of traffic and to a safe space, such as the shoulder of the highway or a nearby parking lot.
- Turn on your hazard lights, and distance yourself from the road to ensure that you and everyone involved in the wreck are not in danger of being hit by passing cars.
- If there are injuries, call an ambulance. If you are not sure whether someone needs emergency medical services, it is always best to call anyway.
- Call the police. No matter the severity of the accident, you should call law enforcement to ensure a police report is written up. This will come in handy during the insurance claims process and can help establish who is at fault. Even if you think the policeman has assigned fault to the wrong person, you should still present the police report to your insurance company and your lawyer. The accident report isn’t admissible in court and is certainly not the end-all, be-all proof in a civil case.
- Collect information, including:
- Name and contact information of the other driver, all passengers, and any witnesses that may have pulled over to help you.
- Description of the vehicle that hit your car. (Make, model, year)
- The drivers’ license number of the other driver.
- License plate information.
- The name of the other drivers’ insurance companies and their policy numbers.
- Location of the accident. If you are on the interstate, look for a nearby mile marker or exit. If you are in a town or residential area, be sure to look for businesses, house addresses, and nearby cross streets.
- Take photos. Make sure to take photos of your car and any other cars that were involved in the accident. Take pictures from multiple angles (if safe) to provide a full idea of what damage occurred.
- Do not admit fault or apologize. Although you may think it's proper manners to apologize in an accident situation, this is often misconstrued as admitting fault.
- Make note of how the other driver is acting and what they are saying. You may be able to gather clues about the real cause of the accident if it appears that the other driver was driving under the influence or driving distracted. If you do notice something reckless, be sure to tell the police once they arrive. Some questions to think about include: Can you smell alcohol on their breath? Are they stumbling at all or slurring their words? Did they mention that they weren’t paying attention? Did they say anything about texting and driving, or “only taking their eyes off the road for a second?
Determining who should be held legally and financially responsible for the accident can be confusing. Drivers may point fingers at each other or try to wrongfully pin the blame on one another.
However, establishing fault after an accident is important because insurance companies use fault to determine who will be responsible for covering the damages caused by the wreck.
“Fault” in a car accident refers to any negligent action that caused the accident. Examples of driver negligence include:
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving
- Violating right of way
- Rear ending another vehicle
The insurance companies will typically determine which driver is at fault for an accident. Here’s what you need to know once fault has been established.
- If you were 100% at fault:
- Your bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance will pay for the other driver’s medical expenses and vehicle repairs.
- If you have PIP or MedPay insurance, this can help you cover any out-of-pocket expenses, such as your medical bills.
- If the other driver was 100% at fault:
- Their bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance will pay for your medical expenses and vehicle repairs.
- If you and the other driver(s) share fault:
- South Carolina follows a legal doctrine called comparative fault. This means that even if you are determined to be partially responsible for causing the accident, you can still recover damages from the other driver’s insurance policies.
- If you are determined to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages from the other driver’s insurance policies.
- If you were wrongfully found at fault:
- If the insurance company wrongfully accuses you of causing the accident, our car wreck attorneys can help you dispute this claim and prove the other driver’s negligence.
After a wreck, you may be faced with a lot of confusing paperwork. It is important to know the differences between the various forms and reports so you can protect your legal rights.
If you’ve been involved in a wreck that resulted in serious injuries or property damage, the police were likely called immediately after the accident. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they will fill out a report that will be filed with the state. This is known as the South Carolina traffic collision report or the TR-310 form. The collision report will contain details of the crash, as well as witness statements and other key information. This report will be submitted to the SC DMV shortly after the accident.
In an accident report, the officer may assign fault to a particular driver. It is important to know that the officer’s conclusion about fault is generally inadmissible in court. If you believe the officer wrongly assigned the blame to you after an accident, our car wreck attorneys can help prove the true cause of the accident.
It can be helpful to understand how to read an accident report, especially if you believe there may be an error that could prevent you from seeking compensation for your damages. Check out the graphic below to learn how to read a South Carolina traffic collision report.
In addition to the traffic collision report, the responding officers will fill out portions of another form called an FR-10. An FR-10 is a green one-page document that will be provided to you by the responding officers at the scene of the accident. The cops will fill out a few sections before giving you the form, which you will give to your insurance company to complete. The FR-10 is basically used to prove that you had insurance on your vehicle at the time of the accident.
You and your insurance company must return the FR-10 to the SC DMV within 15 days of the accident. If you fail to do so, your license and registration may be suspended. Basically, all you will do is sign the FR-10 report before giving it to your insurance company to complete. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect on the FR-10 form.
It is important to keep in mind that the FR-10 is not the official traffic collision report (TR-310). You will not be automatically sent a copy of the traffic collision report after the accident, but you can request and pay for a copy through the SC DMV by filling out a Request For Collision Report (FR-50). If you’ve been seriously injured in a crash and are trying to figure out how to cover your damages, it can be helpful to have a copy of the official traffic collision report on hand.
When a client hires our legal team to handle their case after a car accident, we take care of these steps and can request the TR-310 on your behalf to help with our investigation and negotiations with the insurance company.
Dealing with the Insurance Companies After a South Carolina Car Wreck: Should I Call My Insurance Provider If It Wasn’t My Fault?
How should you report the accident to your insurance company? Do you still report the accident if you were determined to be not at fault? What if the responding officer claimed you are at fault, but you did not truly cause the accident? Here’s how to deal with your insurance company after a wreck.
- Even if you were not at fault for causing the wreck, you should still report the accident to your insurance company. Your policy may require you to report all accidents to your insurance company, even if you were not at fault.
- If you’ve been injured, you will seek compensation for your damages through an insurance company, whether it is your own or another driver’s. Don’t feel guilty about filing a claim to help cover out-of-pocket expenses; that’s what your insurance is for!
- In most cases, if you are not at fault for the accident, you will not seek compensation from your own insurance company. Instead, you will seek damages from the at fault driver’s insurance.
- If you want to seek compensation from another driver’s insurance company, it is in your best interest to consult with a car accident attorney first. The insurance company is not on your side and may try to lowball you on an offer for a settlement. Our car wreck attorneys can help you seek full and fair compensation for your damages.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that they never have your best interests in mind. Even if the insurance adjuster is friendly and seems to be helpful, you should remember that they are not your friend. The insurance company and adjuster’s main goal is to settle your claim for as little as possible. This is why it is important to know how to handle conversations with the insurance adjusters in order to protect your legal rights. Learn more about what to say and what not to say when dealing with the adjusters here.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, your health and recovery should be your top priority above all else. We advise our clients to always do whatever they feel is best for their unique situation and medical needs after an accident. However, we understand that you may have questions about health insurance, how to pay for your medical care, and when to see a doctor. Here are three things you should know about seeking medical care after a car wreck in South Carolina.
- You should visit whatever doctor you feel most comfortable with and who can best treat your injuries. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should always seek medical attention as soon as possible. Whether you visit the emergency room or your primary care physician, it is important to seek medical care quickly after a wreck so you can get on the road to recovery. Learn more about how to find the right doctor after a car crash and what to say to them here.
- You should file all accident-related medical bills with your insurance provider if you have health insurance. If you don’t, you may face the same outrageously high charges as people without health insurance face. You may, however, owe health insurance liens, which means you have to pay your health insurance back for some of the money they paid out to cover your medical bills. An experienced car accident attorney can help negotiate down what you owe to the health insurance company. Learn more about health insurance liens here.
- If you don’t have health insurance, a car accident attorney can help you seek compensation to help pay for your medical expenses. If an attorney helps you recover money either from trial or settlement, those proceeds will be used to pay back your medical bills. Learn more about how to pay medical bills after a car wreck here.
South Carolina law allows drivers to seek compensation for property damage from the at fault driver’s insurance company. If the driver who hit you was uninsured, your own insurance policy will likely cover any property damage or vehicle repair expenses. Generally speaking, if the accident was not your fault, you should not have to cover your own property damage expenses.
You probably do not need a car accident attorney to represent you in property damage arbitration. Our firm does not handle property damage cases, but we are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your claim. Learn more about how to handle property damage claims in South Carolina here.
If you want to seek compensation for your injuries, you will have to file a claim with either your own or another driver’s insurance company. You may not know which insurance company you should contact after a wreck. Generally, the following rules apply:
- If you were at fault for the accident, you will contact your own insurance company.
- If another driver was at fault for the accident, you will contact their insurance company.
- If you contact your own insurance company and let them know the other driver was at fault, your insurance can help you cover out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills.
If you want to file a claim against the at fault driver’s insurance, it is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney before speaking to the insurance adjusters. Insurance companies will typically try to lowball you and offer you less than a fair settlement. Anything you say to the adjusters may also be held against you or used to minimize the severity of your injuries. Our car wreck attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger know the underhanded tricks that insurance adjusters often pull and we can help you seek full, fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Many of our clients run into one of two challenges when filing a claim with the at fault driver’s insurance: either the at fault driver is uninsured or they do not have enough insurance to completely cover all of your damages.
If an uninsured driver caused your accident, you can still seek compensation for your losses. South Carolina law requires that every car insurance policy sold in our state includes uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This means you can still seek compensation from your insurance policy and potentially a family member’s as well by stacking your insurance policies. Learn more about recovering compensation when you’ve been injured by an uninsured driver here.
If an underinsured driver caused your accident, you can also still seek compensation for your losses. This means if the driver who hit you has insurance, but not enough coverage to help pay for all your damages, there are other ways to recover compensation. If you have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, this policy can help make up the difference. Learn more about what you can do if the at fault driver does not have enough coverage here.
What damages can you seek and how can you pursue compensation for your losses after being injured in a collision? Every case is different and it is important to keep in mind that insurance companies often try to pay victims as little as possible. Our experienced car accident attorneys can help you seek a full, fair settlement. In most cases, you can seek compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses caused by the crash. Possible recoveries can be made in relation to:
- Property damage
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings
- Medical expenses
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Lost quality of life or lost enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
Certain factors may affect your settlement, such as the severity of your injuries. Learn more about how much money to expect from your settlement here.
After a car accident, you may be wondering if it is necessary to hire an attorney. What if the accident was relatively minor and didn’t involve any injuries? Is it worth the hassle of dragging out your claim? Will the attorney take all the money after the case is settled? Let us help you understand whether hiring an attorney is the right choice for your case.
TV commercials and ads may try to convince you that everyone who has been in a car accident should hire a lawyer. However, that is not always the case. You may not need to hire legal representation in some situations. Generally speaking, if your accident sounds like any of the following scenarios, you probably do not need to hire a lawyer.
- There were no injuries, only property damage. However, be cautious when assessing whether there are actually no resulting injuries. You may not realize the true extent of the damage until symptoms appear days or weeks later.
- You’ve visited a doctor and they haven’t found any potential underlying health issues caused by the wreck.
- The insurance company has offered you a large enough settlement to cover all your damages, including property damage, medical bills, and lost wages.
- If you caused the accident and you have insurance, you probably do not need to hire a personal injury lawyer.
On the other hand, it is always helpful to at least consult with a car accident attorney, especially if you have been injured in a wreck that was not your fault. Our attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger can help you protect your legal rights and avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance companies. You may benefit from hiring a lawyer if:
- You have severe, life-changing injuries and mounting medical debt
- You were hit by a drunk or distracted driver
- You were hit by a commercial vehicle
- The insurance company is treating you unfairly, such as lowballing you on settlement offers, ignoring you or dragging out resolving your claim, or trying to wrongfully blame you for causing the accident
At the Law Office of Kenneth Berger, we understand the impact that suffering an injury from a car wreck can have on your life from a physical, mental, and financial perspective. We take pride in putting our clients first and helping them hold the negligent party both legally and financially responsible for their actions.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a car accident attorney is that we will navigate the legal system for you so you can focus on your health and recovery. We have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and we can help ensure that you are being treated fairly. If you’ve been injured in a wreck that was not your fault, you are entitled to a full, fair settlement to help pay for your losses.
A few ways that our car wreck attorneys can help you maximize the value of your case include:
- Gathering evidence, such as witness testimonies, camera footage, receipts, etc., and presenting it to the adjuster;
- Hiring experts to help illustrate the true impact your injuries have had on your life;
- Investigating to identify all at-fault parties and potential sources of recovery;
- Negotiating with the insurance companies to help ensure a full, fair settlement;
- Setting up liens for medical bills and negotiating medical liens down; and if necessary,
- Taking your case to trial.
Our clients are at the heart of everything we do and we take pride in treating them with the compassion, respect and empathy we would want for our own loved ones. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, our experienced attorneys are here to help. Contact our Columbia office at (803) 790-2800 to set up a free, confidential consultation. We would be honored to help you protect your legal rights.
Learn everything you need to know about hiring a car accident lawyer after a wreck here.
Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay for anything out of pocket. Our fee will come out of the final settlement amount, and if we are unable to recover a settlement, you do not pay anything at all.
At the Law Office of Kenneth Berger, our policy is that we never charge our clients more than what they are able to put in their own pocket at the end of a case. We may make a living off of providing legal services, but we are ultimately here to help our clients seek justice.
Most personal injury firms in South Carolina operate on a contingency fee basis as well. If a car wreck attorney tries to charge you a retainer fee, we strongly recommend looking for a different lawyer. We discuss our contingency fees with all potential clients at the initial consultation.
At the Law Office of Kenneth Berger, we take pride in getting to know our clients and putting them first in everything we do. We work hard to make sure our clients are treated fairly by the insurance companies, receive the proper medical care they need, and have the chance to seek a full, fair settlement for their losses.
Our attorneys understand how devastating a car accident can be and we treat our clients with the respect and compassion they deserve during this difficult time. When you work with our firm, we navigate the legal system for you so you can prioritize your health and recovery. We are here to help you hold the negligent driver both legally and financially responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
At our firm, we also believe that every client deserves our complete time and attention. We take on a limited number of cases so we can fully devote the necessary energy and resources that each client deserves. Furthermore, we only take on clients that we believe we can truly help. Our goal is not to simply profit off of people experiencing tragedy, but rather to help people seek justice in their time of need.
Our attorneys commit themselves 100% to our clients’ best interests. We take pride in helping them seek the justice they deserve, and we would be honored to work with you if you’ve been left injured and looking for answers after a South Carolina car wreck.