Few people in Columbia or anywhere else in South Carolina live their entire lives without being involved in an auto accident or needing to consult a lawyer. In fact, the car insurance industry estimates the average driver gets into a wreck every 17.9 years. That means many people are involved in three or four crashes over the course of their lifetime. Not all of these collisions require an attorney to represent you. The free information on our website is here to help you evaluate your case and guard your legal rights after being injured in an accident. If you would like answers in person, please contact our Columbia office for a free consultation. We take pride in being of service to this community.
Frequent Causes of Auto Accidents in South Carolina
When handling a car crash case, it’s important to understand not only the details of what happened, but also why it happened. Below are some of the most common causes of motor vehicle collisions in Columbia and other parts of South Carolina.
- Distracted Driving: More than 3,400 people were killed in the U.S. last year due to distracted driving. Common distractions include eating, listening to loud music, and talking with passengers, but the most common culprit is texting and driving. While it may seem challenging, our experienced car accident lawyers can help prove whether the other driver was distracted at the time of your wreck.
- Drunk Driving: Driving under the influence is a reckless act that puts thousands of innocent people at risk every day across the country, especially in South Carolina. We’ve witnessed the effects of DUI accidents, and know they often leave victims and their families with life-changing injuries and devastating financial loss. If you’ve been harmed by a drunk driver, know that you have options and a right to civil justice.
- Speeding and Reckless Driving: The rules of the road are in place for a reason - to help keep our roads and interstates safe. When people choose to violate these rules and drive faster than the speed limit or fly through red lights, they are violating South Carolinians’ right to safety. Drivers who cause car wrecks by excessive speeding, tailgating, and illegal passing should be held accountable.
No matter the cause of your accident, whether it was texting and driving, or a person who chose to drive after consuming multiple drinks at a bar, our team at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger will put forth every effort to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
Common Injuries Caused By Car Wrecks
We have helped clients in the wake of all types of crashes, including head-on collisions, t-bone wrecks, and rear-end accidents. While their injuries may differ, one fact remains the same: they deserve justice for the harm that has been inflicted upon them. Some of the more frequent injuries we have encountered include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Damage to the Cervical Spine
- Lower Back Injuries
- Ligament Tears in the Shoulder or Knee
- Broken Bones
These injuries often result in more than just pain and suffering, they can also lead to exorbitant medical bills, lost wages, and expensive future medical treatment.
Our attorneys regularly work with clients who have experienced truly catastrophic damages, and our dedicated staff is here to take-on insurance companies. We want to help remove our clients’ stress so they can focus on healing. If you’ve experienced a life-changing injury in South Carolina, and are dealing with mounting medical bills or difficult insurance providers, our team is ready to help take the burden off your shoulders.
Recovering Damages After a Wreck in Columbia
Depending on the cause of the auto accident and the harm incurred, affected people can seek fair and just compensation for the economic and non-economic losses caused by the crash. However, you must understand these damages rarely come easy, as insurance providers are hoping to pay out as little as possible. Hiring a knowledgeable accident attorney and filing a civil claim is often the answer to recovering the repayment the law says you deserve. With that in mind, possible recoveries may be made in relation to:
- Property Damage
- Lost Wages and Loss of Future Earnings
- Medical Expenses
- Physical Pain
- Emotional Distress
- Lost Quality of Life
- Punitive Damages
What You Should Know After a Car Accident to Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of
Let's be honest - there are a lot of entities that see dollar signs after someone gets injured. Medical providers are prone to run up big bills, loan companies want to exploit you, and lawyer billboards all over Columbia are constantly pushing you to call for fast cash.
I do not have commercials or billboards. I write books and pride myself on keeping clients informed. Regardless of whether we ever meet for a free consultation, I want to make sure you are also aware of a few key points so that your rights are protected in the wake of a crash:
1. You do not have to provide the at-fault driver's insurance company with recorded statements or records authorizations.
Following a collision, the negligent driver's insurer may try to convince you that providing a statement or signing a HIPAA release is in your best interest. That is rarely the case and is one of several common mistakes people make after a car accident.
More often, they will use your recorded statement to minimize your degree of injury, then request your entire medical history in hopes of finding some remote record from years ago that lets them argue you had "pre-existing conditions." One benefit of having an auto accident attorney is not having to deal with insurance adjusters or their gimmicks.
2. If you have health insurance, all medical bills should be submitted to your insurer.
Hospitals and other medical groups in the Columbia area frequently tell patients they cannot use health insurance to pay for treatment related to a car accident. That is simply untrue, and borders on illegality. Likewise, if your own health insurance company tries to convince you not to submit a claim, and rather pay it with money recovered from the wreck, do not listen.
3. You only need a lawyer in certain situations.
Not every car crash warrants legal representation. Simply put, if hiring a lawyer is going to result in less money and more hardship for you, then don't do it. On the other hand, if you have sustained a significant injury, missed time from work, have concerns over the wreck's impact on your future health, are being mistreated by the insurance companies, or have medical bills greater than the negligent driver's insurance limits, then I certainly recommend consulting with a car accident attorney before entering into any negotiations or settlement.
4. The negligent driver's insurance policy may not be your only source of recovery.
This is extremely important. Many of the catastrophic auto accidents my law firm has handled involved situations where the negligent driver only had minimum limits coverage. In South Carolina, that means $25,000.00. So, what do you do if your medical expenses or lost earnings exceed that figure?
First, we want to make sure there aren't any other insurance policies applicable to the driver. For instance, the driver may have been operating someone else's car at the time of the collision, allowing us to recover the coverage on that vehicle, plus the negligent driver's own car. Another example would be if the at-fault person was working when the wreck happened. In those situations, we may be able to seek recovery not only from the individual, but from the business for whom he was working.
Second, we need to check whether you have "underinsured motorist" coverage through your insurer. South Carolina law requires insurance carriers to offer it to you. If you have it, and your damages exceed the amount of money available from the negligent driver who hurt you, then an underinsured claim may be necessary. Additionally, there are some situations where you can "stack" your underinsured policies following a car wreck.
Third, if the car accident was caused by a drunk driver, the facts may permit a claim against the bar or restaurant that overserved him. This is known as a dram shop action, and we are currently handling several such cases in Columbia and other parts of South Carolina.
5. Settlements are tax free and should factor in every loss - past and future.
The money you receive in relation to your injuries is 100% tax free. The only exception is money specifically paid for punitive damages. Furthermore, South Carolina's auto accident laws are intended to place all your damages on one side of the scale, then ask how much a reasonable person would accept in return for what you have experienced. Some lawyers say you can't put a dollar figure on pain or mental anguish, but that is untrue. We assign dollar amounts to medical treatment, baseball tickets, or a piece of art because we recognize it has value. As people, we also recognize there is value in being pain-free or unburdened by trauma.
People who have been involved in car wrecks - including my own stepmother - often experience problems many years later. I have watched her undergo multiple surgeries that would not have been necessary but for an auto accident when she was in college. I make this point as a reminder that any settlement or verdict must factor in not only what you have been through, but what you are more likely than not to endure in the future. We work with a number of experts in this area to help make sure clients are fully compensated for anticipated future hardships.
For more answers and guidance, call me today at 803-790-2800. You are also welcome to request a free copy of my book, Safety First, Justice Always: Your Guide to South Carolina Auto Accident Law.
Representing Auto Accident Victims Across South Carolina
If you are considering speaking with a lawyer, make sure it is someone who has handled cases like yours in the past; someone with a strong track record. While every auto accident case has its own unique facts, having experience with everything from going up against trucking companies, taking on bars for overserving patrons, helping pedestrians who get hit while lawfully crossing the street, or overcoming the bias that motorcycle riders face, can be very beneficial.
You should also consider a car accident attorney who has helped people not only in Columbia, but throughout South Carolina. My law firm is selective when it comes to taking on new clients because we want everyone we represent to receive the care and individual attention their case mandates. In addition to car accidents caused by negligence alone, we also review and accept:
- DUI Crashes
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- ATV Accidents
Regardless of the unique aspects of your case, my primary goal is to help you obtain the best possible medical care, along with fair compensation. I want my clients to get well, and hopefully get back to the life they knew as quickly as possible. Bottom line, I am committed to protecting your rights and treating you like a member of my own family.
Read One Client's Experience Following Injuries Caused By a Drunk Driver
Contact Columbia Car Accident Lawyer Kenneth Berger
Whether you were just in a wreck and don't know what to do, or have tried to deal with the insurance company on your own and become frustrated, I am here to help you regain control. While you focus on getting well, I focus on obtaining full justice for every harm and loss caused by the accident.
To schedule a free case evaluation and begin receiving guidance, use our live chat feature or call my law firm at 803-790-2800. If you're not ready to talk, but still want to learn more about your rights, allow us to mail you a complimentary copy of Safety First, Justice Always: Your Guide to South Carolina Auto Accident Law.