If you were injured in a car accident in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, or anywhere else in South Carolina and you were not at fault, you are entitled to compensation. How much money are you entitled to in your car accident settlement? It depends largely on your harms and losses and what caused the wreck that led to your injuries.
How Do Insurance Adjusters Determine the Value of an Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, insurance adjusters will try to determine the value of your claim by simply making it a conversation of dollars and cents. They’ll take a look at concrete expenses, like medical bills and lost wages, and then maybe they’ll tack on a few thousand dollars for your pain and suffering, so you’ll feel like you’re coming out on top. But really, it’s not that simple because so often the major impacts on your life cannot be assigned a dollar amount without more information. How can you put a price on the ability to walk, run, and jump? or determine the value of independence a person had before suffering a brain injury? While insurance agents will try to assign a dollar amount to your injury, South Carolina’s laws say there should be more to it. Keep reading to learn more.
Calculating How Much Money You Should Receive After a Car Wreck in South Carolina
Our state's auto accident laws do not operate like “Wheel of Fortune.” Instead, the law seeks to fix, help, and balance. Allow me to explain.
When I say “fix,” I mean repay you for all losses that can be fixed. Good examples of this include your medical bills, future medical expenses, and lost income. These figures can be calculated. A jury is then supposed to compensate you for all those losses, so that an innocent person is not forced to incur a burden caused by a rule breaker.
South Carolina law also says money should be allowed for losses than can be helped, so that the injured person can get back as close as possible to life as normal. For instance, if someone suffered a spinal cord injury in a car wreck and is rendered a paraplegic, the law cannot give him back his ability to walk. However, money can be awarded to cover the costs incurred in refitting his home. Specifically, compensation could be allowed to install ramps and handrails. The verdict may also allow money so that the paraplegic could enroll in vocational rehabilitation. This money does not fix the paraplegic’s harms and losses, but it does help him.
Lastly, the verdict should account for the worst harms in any case: the things that cannot be fixed or helped. Using the example above, nothing could fully restore our paraplegic’s health. Nothing could give him back the self-esteem he felt when he walked - rather than wheeled - through a grocery store. Nothing could take away the isolation he experienced every time he wanted to leave his home, but remembered he had no way of getting where he needed to go. Nothing could give him back his self-reliance or take away the feelings he experienced every time he thought about what life used to be like. A jury must be shown what cannot be fixed so that they can determine the amount of money it takes to match and balance it.
How Accurate Are Car Accident Settlement Calculators?
When trying to determine what a fair car accident settlement is, you’ll find a lot of websites with “car accident settlement calculators.” The calculators take into account all of your economic damages – medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, future medical expenses, etc. – as well as the severity of your injury. While they are a fine way to calculate a rough estimate of what you should expect, car accident settlements are not a “one size fits all” deal. Every person will have a different experience with pain and how the injury impacts their day to day life, and a calculator won’t be able to include those factors. Ultimately, the best way to determine the value of your car accident claim is to schedule a free consultation with a trusted injury lawyer.
Other Factors that Affect How Much Money You Get After A Car Accident
1. Insurance Policy Limits
Unfortunately, there can be times where the amount of compensation you receive after a wreck is limited by how much insurance money is available, which is one reason why we encourage people to invest in underinsured motorist coverage. To maximize your recovery, you can identify all at-fault parties, which could include the at-fault driver, a bar or restaurant that overserved him alcohol, or even a car company that sold a defective product that failed to keep you safe during the wreck. Once the parties are identified, you can determine what their insurance policy limits are, and that will likely be the amount of compensation available to you.
2. Whether or Not You Hire an Attorney
You don’t always have to hire a lawyer after a wreck to get a fair recovery. If you were in a crash that caused minor injuries or only property damage, you likely do not require an attorney. However, in complicated cases where you suffered life-changing injuries, like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or a brain injury, or if the insurance company is being difficult to work with, hiring a qualified car accident attorney can help you secure a higher recovery. An attorney is more familiar with how to negotiate with insurance adjusters and will likely be able to more clearly communicate how your injury impacted your life and can even hire experts to give the insurance company concrete evidence on the severity of your injury.
3. Health Insurance Liens
Once you receive a settlement after a wreck, you must pay back any health insurance liens from the medical treatment you received. So, the money you walk away with after all is said and done will largely be impacted by the balance of those liens. That said, it is possible to negotiate with your medical providers to get your liens reduced. Our legal team has successfully negotiated the bills for many of our clients to help ensure they walk away with a more money after their car accident case settles.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident in South Carolina
Every car accident case is different. Some cases involve very few losses. Other cases involve life-altering harm. If you have questions about how much compensation you should receive after your car accident, you should get a free consultation from a car accident lawyer, rather than rely on an insurance company that increases its profits by paying you less.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger have years of experience handling cases like yours, and would be honored to help you and your family with the legal recovery process while you focus on healing. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, and we proudly serve the Sumter and Florence areas, as well as the entire state of South Carolina. Call us today at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) / 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC), or start a live chat 24/7 with a real, live person to arrange a free and confidential consultation.