Do I Need an Attorney for a Car Accident?
Every year, South Carolina sees well over 100,000 car accidents. Many of these accidents are minor fender benders, but others leave passengers and drivers with serious bodily injuries.
In total, 2017 saw nearly 40,000 injury collisions and 925 fatalities on the road. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, then you will probably want to make a claim for compensation. An attorney is often a great benefit.
Below, we ask four questions that will help you determine whether you need an attorney for a car accident.
Have You Suffered Bodily Injuries or Only Damage to Your Vehicle?
If you only suffered property damage in a crash, then you can probably handle your claim by yourself. You can submit a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier and get reimbursed for repairs made to your car. The insurer probably won’t fight you on the amount they pay, so long as you use one of their recommended body shops or submit a reasonable estimate for repairs.
Things are different if you’ve suffered bodily injuries. Much more money is in play to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An insurance company might try to discount your injuries in order to pay out less compensation, and an attorney is often necessary so that you can negotiate effectively. If you’ve suffered a broken bone, burn, or other serious injury, then an attorney usually helps.
Are Your Bodily Injuries Serious?
Car accident injuries run the gamut between minor scrapes and life-altering injuries like paralysis or traumatic brain injury. You should examine your injuries to determine whether they are serious enough to warrant compensation.
First, look at how much you are spending to treat the injuries. If you had to have surgery, then this is obviously a major expense. But if you suffered a mild sprain or strain, then you might have only spent a couple hundred dollars on compression garments, ibuprofen, and ice.
Also, consider how much time you had to miss work. You can receive compensation for lost wages or lost self-employment income if your injuries prevent you from working. If you missed only a day or two, then your claim is worth far less than if you missed a month or more of wages.
Generally, if your injuries are serious, you can receive more compensation and an attorney will be a terrific benefit. Because you might not know how much your injuries are worth, contact a South Carolina car accident lawyer to discuss how much compensation you might receive.
Do You Like to Negotiate?
Sometimes, an insurance adjuster will immediately agree to your request for compensation without any pushback. But that is a rare occurrence in our experience. If you are submitting a claim for tens of thousands of dollars, then insurance companies look at them closely. They might reject the amount you are requesting and make a counter-offer for a much lower amount.
To receive fair compensation, you are going to have to negotiate on your behalf. This means the following:
- You must hold onto all bills and receipts that show how much you spent to treat your injuries.
- You must gather proof of how much work you missed and the amount of wages you lost.
- You need to draft a compelling demand letter explaining the accident and your injuries before making a demand for compensation.
- You need to negotiate effectively by not caving in at the first sign of resistance from the insurance company.
- You must remain calm, polite, and determined or you will never receive the compensation you deserve.
Many accident victims are suffering from intense pain and do not have the time to commit to effectively negotiating on their behalf. Others are afraid of conflict and know they cannot effectively stand up for themselves. If you need help, then you should hire an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer to represent you.
Can You Handle Your Own Lawsuit?
If settlement negotiations break down, you might need to bring a lawsuit in court. This is also a complicated task—maybe even more complicated than negotiating a settlement on your own.
Fortunately, South Carolina has a small claims court that people can use if they don’t have a lawyer. But, there’s a catch: you can only use small claims court if the value of your lawsuit does not exceed $7,500. So if your case is not for a lot of money, then representing yourself could work. You will have control of your lawsuit and not lose out on any money in attorneys’ fees.
However, if you are seeking more than $7,500, then having an attorney could be beneficial. Your lawyer can take care of building up your case, collecting evidence, and filing legal pleadings with the court. You can sit back and focus on getting well.
Discuss Attorneys’ Fees with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Attorneys in South Carolina represent injured motorists using contingency fee agreements. This means that you don’t pay the attorney any fees unless you win your case. In that situation, your attorney takes a percentage of your settlement or jury verdict, typically around 33-40%.
If you are suing for only a few thousand dollars, then it will be hard to find a lawyer. You aren’t suing for enough money, so most lawyers will decline to represent you. Instead, lawyers typically agree to represent motorists who have suffered moderate to severe injuries, such as broken bones, back injuries, burns, and head injuries.
Be sure to fully explain your injuries, including your pain and suffering, when meeting with an attorney. You should also receive any contingency fee agreement in writing that is easy to understand.
For more information about how to handle a car accident case, contact Peace Law Firm today. We represent injured victims in South Carolina and have handled multiple car accident cases. You will always find a friendly ear on the other line of the phone. Even better, we offer the public a free initial consultation, which you can schedule by calling 864-298-0500 or sending us an online message.