Auto accidents often leave people asking a number of questions: Should I hire an attorney? How am I going to pay all of these medical bills? What will I do if I can't go back to work? Is the insurance company trying to deceive me?
If these questions sound familiar, you are not alone. I answer them for people across South Carolina and am glad to help you get things back on track. One of the greatest advantages someone gains when they hire a lawyer is that the law firm can handle the legal and insurance issues while the injured person gives attention to getting well and returning to the life they knew.
Below, I've answered questions we often hear from people trying to determine if they need to hire a lawyer after a car wreck in South Carolina, but if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to our office. My team and I would be happy to provide answers and help you find clarity. You can contact us by calling (803) 790-2800, filling out a contact form, or by starting live chat using the feature at the bottom of the page.
- How can an injury lawyer help after a crash?
- How to find a great lawyer
- What to look for in a SC car wreck attorney
- How much do accident attorneys charge?
- Preparing for your initial consultation: what to wear, what to bring, and what questions to ask
Car accident lawyers have a reputation for doing a minimal amount of work on the case, then taking most of the money at the end. We want to do everything possible to restore the good name of car accident attorneys in Columbia - and across South Carolina - by offering help, answers, and professional service. So how could an injury lawyer help you after a wreck?
- By allowing a car accident attorney to deal with the insurance and legal issues, you can put more focus on getting well. When people come in for their initial meeting with me, we discuss a range of issues. Often times, new clients have questions about medical expenses, compensation for property damage, which insurance companies they should be dealing with, and what information they should provide the "adjuster." We answer those questions honestly. Likewise, we encourage new clients to put their focus on trying to get back to "life as normal," while we take on the insurance company. We pride ourselves on keeping clients informed of developments in their case, but want to remove the burden of gathering evidence (i.e. medical bills, lost wage statements, accident reports, etc...) and pushing the case forward, from their shoulders.
- Lawyers who are experienced in handling serious auto accident claims are often skilled not only at maximizing settlement value, but also obtaining medical bill and health care lien reductions. An accident attorney's job is not simply to settle your case - it is to achieve the best possible outcome for you. That means working to obtain reductions from health insurance companies, medical providers, and other entities that might have a legally permissible claim against your settlement proceeds. We do not want our clients to face unpaid medical bills when their case ends. We therefore put great effort toward satisfying all balances while still maximizing the amount of compensation you receive.
- Lawyers have the ability to file lawsuits and take cases to trial when insurance companies refuse to treat you fairly. Could you represent yourself? Yes, but I would not recommend it. Car accidents may appear straight-forward on the surface, but insurance carriers often dispute your extent of injury, whether your pain is related solely to the crash, how much medical treatment will be needed in the future, and how much you should be compensated for damages such as mental anguish, lost quality of life, or physical impairment. In addition, expert witnesses such as economists or life care planners might be necessary to explain the financial impact of the crash on your life. Even in cases where liability is admitted, the insurance company may fight you on how much money you should receive. When that happens, it is good to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
We know the search to find the right accident attorney can be overwhelming. You are likely already juggling scheduling doctor’s appointments, trying to secure a rental car, and figuring out how you’ll cover your bills while you are recovering. The idea of having to find a lawyer you can trust probably seems like too much to bear. Fortunately, finding a great lawyer is not as hard as it seems. Options for finding lawyers include:
- Research online. This is by far the most straightforward solution. Google and other search engines are constantly becoming better resources for people researching about attorneys. For example, Google allows you to read reviews from previous clients, browse the lawyers’ website to see what types of cases they handle, and provides you with contact information so you can easily get in touch with the right firm at the touch of a button. Once you've found a lawyer that you like, give their office a call. While websites and reviews can give you a good sense of how a firm treats its clients, initial phone calls give even greater insight into how you’ll be treated once your case is signed. Does the firm keep you on hold for long periods of time? Are you treated with respect? Is the staff kind and helpful?
- Get referrals from other attorneys. While many attorneys do not handle personal injury cases, most know someone that practices injury law. For example, if you know a real estate lawyer or a business attorney, ask them which local injury attorneys they recommend you call to set up a free consultation.
- Ask friends and family members. Your personal network of people is a great place to start when trying to find an attorney. Ask your trusted friends or family members if they know any lawyers they trust. You may be surprised at how many people have previously hired an injury lawyer. They’ll be able to tell you which law firms to call (and which ones to avoid.)
Selecting an injury attorney can be a daunting process. With so many television commercials, radio ads, and billboards, you might think the best thing you can do is just call the next lawyer you see on TV. You would not pick a surgeon or university that way, and we don't think you should choose a lawyer based on slogans and promises either. Instead, consider a few of the factors listed below and make the choice that is best for you.
1. Credentials. What awards has the attorney received? What organizations are they are a part of? Which continuing education courses have they attended in the past year? Do they get invited to speak at conferences or mentor other members of the bar?
2. Results and experience with cases like yours. Ask the attorney about past auto accident cases he or she has handled, request the opportunity to read testimonials from former clients, and find out how many cases like yours the lawyer has successfully handled. Some attorneys juggle multiple types of law like real estate closings, family law, criminal defense, etc. 30 years of experience does not mean the lawyer has 30 years of helping car wreck victims, so make sure to cover this topic with a lawyer before signing with them.
3. Client communication policies. Talk with the attorney about how often they communicate with clients. For example, at our firm, we schedule regular appointments so that our clients are always in the loop about their case. Our team is here to serve you throughout the duration of your case, so we encourage you to call or email us with any concerns or questions that may come up.
4. How he or she makes you feel. This is where you may find the biggest difference. There are many intelligent, hard-working attorneys in South Carolina, but not all of them are going to make you feel the personal touch that people seriously injured in crashes often need. You want to make sure you find someone who is genuine, empathetic, and compassionate to your situation. It is also important that your attorney is willing to explain complicated matters in a concise, understandable way.
We know that a wreck can devastate a person's health and finances, so choosing a law firm to represent your interests should be done carefully - based on facts rather than expensive ads or memorable slogans.
Attorneys’ fees will vary from firm to firm, but most injury firms in South Carolina will charge about 30 to 40 percent of the recovered compensation. You will only pay the attorney at the end of the case, after the case has been settled or otherwise closed. This is known as a contingency fee, meaning the amount owed depends on how much money the lawyer is able to secure. If the lawyer is unable to recover any payment, you will not pay a fee. Contingency fees are very common in the world of personal injury law. If an accident lawyer tries to charge you a retainer fee, we recommend you continue to research for other options. Your attorney should discuss their fees during your initial free consultation.
While some lawyers charge for postage, mileage, and other small costs throughout a case, we do not. We are also proud to say that we have never charged our clients more than what they were able to put in their own pocket at the end of their case.
Although many people feel nervous about meeting with an attorney for a free consultation, you absolutely shouldn’t be. The right attorney for your case is going to make you feel right at home in their firm and take your worries away – not add to them. Nonetheless, we know you may have a lot of questions about what going to happen at your free consultation, so I’ve put together some helpful information below to help you prepare for your initial consult with a lawyer.
What to Wear to a Lawyer Consultation
We hear this question quite often, and our answer is always, “Whatever makes you feel your best!” Our clients become family, and no one should worry about what to wear to a family gathering.
What to Bring When Meeting with an Accident Lawyer
When you go to a consultation with an attorney, it’s important to bring all the information and paperwork you have available about your car accident and injury. This is going to allow the lawyer to properly assess your case and determine if it’s something you can handle on your own or if it would be beneficial to hire a lawyer. If you have the following items available to you, we recommend you bring them to your consultation.
- Copies of the police report
- Photos of your injury
- Photos of the scene of the wreck
- Information about lost wages (if you have them)
- Any information or letters you have already received from the insurance company
- Current medical records and bills
- Information about your insurance policy
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer
Have a list of questions ready for the attorney. Remember, that just because you went to a free consultation, doesn’t mean you have to hire the first lawyer you talk to. Be prepared with questions to get a feel for how you’ll be treated throughout your case, what kind of results you can expect, and if the law firm is the right fit for you. Questions you may want to ask include:
- What types of cases do you typically handle?
- How often do you settle cases before they go to trial?
- How often can I expect to hear from you throughout my case?
- What is your previous success rate with cases like mine? Can you share previous results?
- Will you negotiate with medical providers to reduce my medical liens?
- What are your fees?
- Will you handle my case personally? Sometimes you may meet with one attorney for a consultation, but then you end up working with another lawyer. Asking this question will ensure you meet with the lawyer that will handle your case.
How Our Firm Decides Which Car Wreck Cases to Take
I am often told that car accident lawyers will accept anything that walks through the door. I can't speak for other Columbia injury attorneys, but I know that my firm turns down the large majority of folks who contact us. Why? Because we believe in quality over quantity.
We only accept clients who we think we can truly help. For example, can we get a severely injured child medical care for the rest of his life? Can we get a drunk driving victim's medical bills reduced by more than $200,000.00 so she won't face bankruptcy? Can we help an immigrant whose leg was broken by a partially blind driver receive justice? Can we make our community a little safer? I make a living practicing law, and make no apologies for my success, but if my job was about nothing more than profiting off tragedy, I could not sleep at night.
When deciding whether to accept a new South Carolina car accident case, we take a look at several factors, including:
- Property Damage;
- Extent of Injury;
- Insurance Coverage; and
- Client's Character.
I want to represent people who need a lawyer, and for whom I can produce a great benefit. I also want to work with people who will appreciate the countless hours we devote to protecting their rights. I want to be known as one of the "go-to" injury attorneys in South Carolina. Part of achieving that goal is being selective in our cases and committing ourselves 100% to the client's best interest. We benefit from the good we do for others and hope to receive the honor of working for you if a car accident has left you searching for justice, answers, and representation.
What to Expect at the End of a Consultation?
At the end of the consult, if you feel the attorney is a good fit for your accident case and the lawyer believes that you would benefit from representation, the lawyer will likely have you sign a retainer that confirms everything you discussed during the meeting. Once you sign the retainer, you will officially become a client and the lawyer should begin working on your case.
If you decide not to retain the lawyer or if he/she believes you wouldn’t benefit from hiring an attorney, they may give you guidance for how to proceed on your own. Either way, you should leave the consultation with greater clarity about your accident case and what steps, if any, to take moving forward. At our office, we also provide you with my books about South Carolina personal injury law, which may be helpful for your current case or if you have another incident in the future.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident in South Carolina
None of your legal questions have to go unanswered; you do not have to fight the insurance adjuster by yourself; and you can rest assured that when looking for a car accident lawyer there are more options available than the attorneys on our television.
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.