Columbia Car Accident Lawyer

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Columbia Car Accident Lawyer

Columbia Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury and death. Although some car accidents are not severe, car accidents like head-on collisions, pile-ups, rollovers, and drunk driving accidents are likely to result in catastrophic injuries and other damages. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you need to work with a Columbia, SC, car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

The financial consequences of a car accident can be severe. You may be facing medical bills, the potential for more medical treatment, lost income, lost benefits, and lost future earning capacity. These financial stressors can compound the physical and emotional trauma you face after a car accident. A car accident civil claim can recover these costs and allow for stability.

Some individuals may believe that hiring a lawyer for a personal injury claim is not worth the cost, but this is not the case. An attorney makes a claim more likely to succeed and often allows you to recover more damages than you could have on your own. When you are suffering from excessive costs and physical pain because of someone else’s actions, you deserve the closure and justice of a fair settlement. An attorney can help with an insurance or personal injury claim.

Nichols Injury Law: Your Columbia Car Accident Attorneys

At Nichols Injury Law, our team understands how significantly a car accident can affect your life. When you are managing an injury or grieving the loss of a loved one, an insurance or civil claim may be far from your mind. However, with the financial strain a car accident causes, a claim may be the most effective way to give yourself time to heal and process.

When you work with the supportive and compassionate team at Nichols Injury Law, you can feel confident that our team is doing all we can to bring you the justice and compensation you deserve. For years, Nichols Injury Law has worked diligently on personal injury claims, including car accident claims. We have a strong record of many successful outcomes and are proud to help those in our community.

Let the qualified team and Nichols Injury Law review your case and determine how we can advocate for your interests in negotiation or litigation.

Understanding the Dangers of Car Accident in South Carolina

Car accidents are an unfortunately common cause of injury and fatality and one of the leading causes of accidental injury in the country. Car accidents can cause damage to vehicles and minor injuries, but they also frequently cause long-term, serious injuries and death. Fatal injuries are more likely when a passenger car is in an accident with a semi-truck or other commercial truck or when a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian is involved in a vehicle collision.

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, traffic collisions in 2020 included:

  • 964 fatal collisions, which resulted in 1,066 deaths
  • 2,196 collisions that resulted in serious injury and 2,607 people seriously injured
  • 121,235 total collisions, including fatal, serious injury, and property-damage-only collisions
  • 582 fatal collisions involved automobiles
  • 116 fatal collisions involved motorcycles
  • 191 fatal collisions involved pedestrians

South Carolina is one of the most dangerous states when it comes to fatalities from car accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2021, there were 1,112 fatal crashes in South Carolina, which resulted in 1,198 deaths. The state has a rate of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 people and a rate of 2.08 deaths per 100,000 vehicle miles traveled. Both of these rates were the highest in the country that year.

Is South Carolina a No-Fault Accident State?

No, South Carolina is not a no-fault state. The state is an at-fault state for car accidents and car insurance claims. When you are involved in a car accident, determining fault is essential. If your car was damaged or you suffered an injury, you can file a claim to cover those damages with the insurance provider of the at-fault driver.

A South Carolina car accident attorney can negotiate with the insurance provider on your behalf. These insurance companies protect their bottom line and often try to avoid providing you the compensation you need to recover. This can be even harder to deal with when you are in physical pain and attempting to heal. An attorney can negotiate and discuss on your behalf and will know how to handle any attempts by the insurance provider to limit your claim.

When Do You Need a Personal Injury Car Accident Claim?

After some car accidents, the coverage from an insurance claim will cover the damages. If a driver is uninsured, however, you may have to file a personal injury claim to obtain reasonable compensation. In severe accidents, even an insured driver may not have the coverage to compensate for losses. If any of your losses are not covered by the insurance claim, you may have the right to claim them in a personal injury claim.

Common Causes of Columbia Car Accidents

When you are on the road, you likely do all you can to drive safely and try to avoid potential causes of accidents. Unfortunately, not everything is in your control when you are driving. The carelessness and recklessness of other drivers can cause an accident, and sometimes, it is not possible to react quickly enough to avoid a crash. Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:

  • Distracted Driving: Any action that takes a driver’s concentration or sight from the road is dangerous and is distracted driving. This includes texting, eating, personal grooming, using a GPS, or adjusting music. When someone drives distracted, they are making an accident more likely and decreasing their ability to react to changes in traffic.
  • Speeding: Speeding is a form of reckless driving. When a driver speeds, it increases the chances of them causing or getting into an accident. The faster speeds also mean that the damages and injuries from an accident will likely be more serious.
  • Moving Violations: When traffic doesn’t flow properly, accidents are more likely. Drivers increase the likelihood of an accident when they fail to yield the right of way, run stop signs or stop lights, don’t use their turn signal, change lanes without checking blind spots, or otherwise fail to follow the expected flow of traffic.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): It is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Doing so limits a driver’s ability to make rational decisions and lowers their reaction speed.
  • Poor Weather and Road Conditions: When conditions are hazardous and/or visibility is low, drivers must react accordingly by slowing their speed and driving more cautiously. Failure to do so can cause an accident.
  • Defective Car Components: When car systems fail, it is likely to cause an accident. Essential systems like brakes, tires, or steering are necessary for a car to remain functional, but accidents can also be caused by malfunctions of wipers or other systems.

Determining the cause of a car accident is essential to determining who was at fault. In some cases, it is not the driver who is at fault for an accident. Governmental or private agencies responsible for road upkeep may be responsible for potholes, improper drainage, or hard-to-read road signs if those hazards result in an accident. Designers, manufacturers, or distributors could be liable for defective car components.

How Do You Prove Fault in Car Accident Claims?

Whether you are filing an insurance claim or a personal injury claim, you must prove who is at fault for the accident. In most car accident claims, fault is based on the theory of negligence. This means that someone failed to act with reasonable care.

When a driver fails to uphold a reasonable duty of care to you and others on the road, they can be held legally and financially responsible for the damages in the accident. A driver may fail to uphold a duty of care by driving under the influence, driving recklessly, or being distracted. To demonstrate that an individual is negligently liable, the following elements need to be proven:

  1. Duty of Care: The party who is allegedly at fault owed you a duty to behave with reasonable care.
  2. Breach of Duty: The party breached their duty of care by behaving negligently or recklessly.
  3. Causation: Their negligent or reckless action or inaction directly caused the accident and injury you suffered.
  4. Actual Damages: You were injured and/or suffered legal damages in the accident, including non-economic or economic damages.

In addition to negligence, someone may also be liable through strict liability or intentional misconduct. Intentional misconduct occurs when someone acts knowingly and maliciously. Strict liability typically applies in cases where a product manufacturer or designer is liable. This is because these companies are strictly liable for the safety of those who use their products.

Can You Get Compensation if the Accident Was Your Fault in South Carolina?

If you are completely at fault for the accident, you cannot receive compensation. However, if you are partially at fault for an accident, you may still be eligible to file for damages. South Carolina operates under modified comparative negligence laws. In an insurance claim or civil claim, the fault may be divided between the involved parties. Some drivers or other parties will be determined to have a higher percentage of fault than others, depending on the unique circumstances.

If you are determined to be 50% or more responsible for the accident, you are not able to claim any compensation for your damages or injuries. If you are found to be 49% or less responsible for an accident, you can still claim damages. However, once the final settlement is determined, it is reduced by your percentage fault in the accident.

The impact on your claim can be detrimental if you are found comparatively negligent, even if you can still claim damages. An attorney is a necessary ally if you are partially at fault. They can advocate for why you should be less than 50% liable and attempt to reduce your percentage fault using evidence from the accident. This can help you obtain the fair amount of damages you need to recover.

How Does a Columbia Car Accident Attorney Help Me?

When you work with a car accident lawyer, your insurance or personal injury claim has a better chance of success and is more likely to compensate you for the maximum damages available. After a car accident, you should talk with an attorney about the situation. They can listen and review the accident to determine if you could file a successful claim. Your attorney can also help by:

  • Helping you meet legal deadlines and filing requirements
  • Providing you with important legal knowledge, including unique state or federal statutes that apply to your case
  • Investigating the accident, determining who was at fault, and potentially proving that you were not at fault
  • Calculating the complete and fair extent of your damages, potentially maximizing the amount you receive from a claim
  • Negotiating with the insurance company for you
  • Defending your rights during negotiation or litigation
  • Bringing your claim to court if an insurance company will not compromise or pay a fair settlement
  • Lowering your stress throughout the claims process
  • Enabling you to rest and recover

When an attorney is experienced in car accident cases similar to yours, they likely have intimate knowledge of the damages available to you and the evidence needed in your case.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in South Carolina?

Each car accident settlement is unique because it depends on the unique injuries and damages involved in the case. When another party is liable, you have the right to seek full coverage for your economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the facts of your claim, you may recover damages such as:

  • Medical costs. Coverage for past and future medical bills is compensable, including expected complications from your injury. Your medical costs may include transportation to the hospital, surgeries, doctor’s visits, medications, hospital stays, physical therapy, mobility devices, and medical equipment.
  • Lost income and lost earning potential. Some injuries require you to take days to weeks off of work. The income you would have earned during this time is compensable, as are any benefits or bonuses during that time. Some car accident injuries could prevent you from returning to work for a period of time or from ever working in your industry again. In that case, your claim could recover damages for the income you would have earned, which is called earning potential.
  • Property damage. If a car insurance claim does not cover the repairs or replacement of a vehicle, a personal injury claim may cover the rest. Additional items in the car or on your person that were damaged or destroyed may also be covered.
  • Pain and suffering. This is a form of non-economic damages that provides compensation for difficult-to-calculate damages. This includes damages like disfigurement, mental suffering, physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
  • Wrongful death damages. In a wrongful death claim, surviving family members could recover damages such as burial costs, funeral costs, loss of companionship, and loss of income.

Any other relevant damages that were caused directly by the accident and injury could also be included in a final settlement. An experienced attorney can work diligently to calculate reasonable damages from your unique accident and injury and hold insurance companies liable for that amount.

How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in South Carolina?

Civil claims like car accident claims have statutes of limitations: time limits by which you must file a civil claim for compensation. If you miss this deadline, you can no longer claim your rightful compensation. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for car accidents and other personal injury claims is three years. This starts from the date of the accident or the discovery of an injury from the accident.

Auto insurance claims also have limitations, although these vary based on the unique policies of the insurance provider. Often, the time limit to file insurance claims is as soon as you are able after an accident.

It’s important to file these claims as soon as possible. The sooner you work with an attorney, the more time they have to investigate your claim, build a strong case, and file a claim. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to obtain essential evidence to support your claim.

Eye witness statements may be hard to find, or witnesses may have unclear memories. CCTV or other footage of an accident may be deleted if too much time passes. The sooner you work with an attorney, the better chance your claim has.

Defend Your Rights by Working With a Columbia, SC, Car Accident Lawyer

At Nichols Injury Law, we want to help you secure the closure you need to heal and recover after a traumatic accident. If you have been in a car accident in Columbia, contact our team. We can protect your rights and help you fight for the resolution you need.

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