If you’ve been in a car accident, then you may need the services of a Greenville, SC auto accident attorney like H. Chase Harbin. The number of auto accidents in the United States steadily climbs as smart phones, texting, complex navigation systems, and other distractions cause more collisions between drivers in South Carolina and throughout the country. This leads to many avoidable injuries, deaths, and lawsuits.
Auto accident injuries can result in painful surgeries and rehabilitation, expensive medical debt, and lost wages from time off of work and lost earning potential. Victims of auto accidents then find, all too often, that the at-fault driver will not take responsibility and that the insurance company will not pay fairly or at all. The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible, while you struggle to make ends meet. You can learn more about the auto accident claims process and why you should obtain the representation of an attorney below.
H Chase Harbin – Car Accident Lawyer
Should You Consider Hiring An Auto Accident Attorney?
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety put together a report that reveals that an auto accident occurs in SC almost every five minutes. Every 17 minutes, an auto accident injury occurs. Every ten hours, an auto accident related death occurs. In a single year, 800 fatal auto accidents occur in South Carolina, alone. More shocking than this is that more than 100,000 total collisions occur in a year and that 30,000+ result in injuries.
There are many different types of injuries, and substantial economic losses involved in these accidents. In many cases, whole lives are destroyed as the injured are unable to work or enjoy life as they did before. Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that more than $1 billion is spent on motor vehicle accidents every year in South Carolina. The cost is overwhelming more most victims of car accidents.
Common Injuries From Car Accidents
There are so many different injuries that can occur in an auto accident. Many are fatal or severely disabling. When two heavy and fast moving vehicles collide, the amount of force that is put on the drivers and passengers is staggering. The most common and more debilitating injuries include brain and head injuries, back and neck injuries, facial injuries, and chest injuries.
Brain and Head Injuries
Brain and head injuries are among the most common auto accident injuries that people experience. While the seatbelt holds the body in place, nothing holds the head or brain still when there is a collision. Thus, the body is suddenly slowed by the impact, and the head keeps moving forward, causing the brain to slam into the skull. This can cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury that may seem mild or nonexistent at first, only to become a serious threat to your life and your quality of life in the future. It is common for auto accident victims to think that nothing is wrong, just to find out later that the problem has surfaced and grown worse. This can result in higher expenses for medical care, and it is wise to seek a full medical evaluation after any auto accident, even if you feel fine.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries are also very common in auto accident victims. Back injuries occur when the force of the accident causes the body to absorb unusual amounts of pressure or to twist in unusual ways. Spinal problems, vertebrae problems, and spinal fractures can occur. Neck injuries are most commonly seen in whiplash and neck strain as the head snaps back in the accident and the muscles are strained. This can cause lasting nervous system damage. Both can take time to become apparent with symptoms, and like head injuries, can be missed until the problem gets worse if no immediate treatment is sought.
Injuries to the face, such as scrapes, cuts, bruises, scars, lacerations, and even fractures, are another highly common result of South Carolina auto accidents. The airbag, the dashboard, the steering wheel, or broken glass can all cause these facial injuries, which can also include dental issues and jaw injuries.
Serious auto accidents also commonly cause chest injuries, like contusions, bruises, broken ribs, and even serious internal injuries. The seatbelt or steering wheel are most likely to cause these injuries, though worse injuries are typically sustained through being thrown from the car or contacting the dashboard.
The Claims Process with an Auto Accident Lawyer
Knowing about the many awful injuries that can occur does little to help you once you’ve been injured and need to get through the claims process. Having an auto accident lawyer on your side can make this complicated situation much simpler. Following is a general outline of how the claims process will work.
Step One: Filing a Report
Step one is to file a report of the Greenville, SC auto accident. You’ll report that injury or substantial property damage has occurred from an auto accident. If you speak with an attorney prior to this step, you will be advised that filing this report is your legal obligation in South Carolina. The police officers will arrive, and you should cooperate with the report, while not making incriminating statements that imply that you are at-fault for the action. Don’t even apologize, as this can indicate guilt, when you are not actually guilty. Minimize all discussion with the occupants of other vehicles, to keep this from being used against you.
You should exchange information with the other driver, however. If you and the other driver are in a position and condition to do so, then you should share each other’s names, insurance information, and contact information. You should also write down the names of any witnesses who are at the scene and make note of any other important information that you may need, including the details of the accident as you remember them, while they are still fresh in mind.
Step Two: Seeing A Doctor
Assuming that you have not already been transported by ambulance to a medical treatment center or hospital, you see a doctor after filing your report. Your injuries may not seem serious or they may not seem apparent at all, but you will regret not seeking a full medical evaluation if you do not. You could have serious injuries that will become obvious as time progresses, and may grow worse. If you go see a doctor early, then your injuries can be recognized and treated right away. You will also minimize the risk of being denied by the insurance company because you waited to seek treatment. They may want to claim that the injury could have happened at another time in another way. Protect yourself and your case by seeing a doctor as soon as possible.
Step Three: Establishing Fault
When you’re fighting to recover your damages after an auto accident, you’ll find that it’s essential to establish who was at fault for the accident. You cannot recover damages in a South Carolina auto accident if you cannot establish that the other driver was at-fault for the accident and injuries that occurred. It is your burden to prove that the defendant acted imprudently and caused the accident.
Step Four: Gathering Evidence
Your Greenville, SC auto accident attorney will help to gather the evidence that you need to prove your case, though you should come prepared with the necessary documents. For example, you should have the accident reports, medical bills and reports, and statements from any hospitals, chiropractors, rehab facilities, radiologists, doctors, etc. that you have seen. Witness statements will also be gathered, and you may need the assistance of expert witnesses and accident reconstructionists. Your auto accident attorney will help with this and file the demand letter for damages with the insurance company of the at-fault driver once all of this is done.
Step Five: Filing The Demand Letter
When you file the demand letter you are explaining exactly what happened in the auto accident, expressing the harm that was caused by the accident, discussing the injuries in detail, and laying out the expenses associated with your claim. You should also include the future costs of ongoing health care and problems that will need to be addressed. The demand letter will then state a particular sum of money that you wish to be paid to compensate your losses. This amount is usually higher in the demand letter to allow room for negotiation. You will then need patience as it can take a long time to resolve the claim.
Hiring An Excellent Auto Accident Attorney For the Settlement Process
It can take a long time to settle your claim, and it does require the skill of an experienced auto accident attorney to be as successful as possible. You don’t want to go up against the insurance claims adjusters alone, when they know the tricks to get you to settle early and low. You need a lawyer who knows their tricks and will fight to ensure that you are fairly compensated.
The most common mistake that victims in auto accidents make is settling too early. The insurance company wants you to accept the first offer and settle for less. An attorney will advise you against accepting the first low ball offer. It may be tempting to get it over with and receive some compensation, but you will do much better to wait, be patient, and stick to your guns. You could receive thousands of dollars more than the initial offer if you are patient.
Rushing to settle your claim too early can also result in not being prepared for future medical expenses that are caused by your injuries. If you hurt your neck and back and broke your arm, then you may think that you’re fine when these injuries seem to have healed. Yet, you may find that your neck and back pain return later, and it’s too late to get your new expenses covered.
This is why it’s so important to give yourself time to heal, make sure that there are no more serious or recurring medical issues, and that your future treatment will be covered in your settlement. If there are further treatments needed, like surgeries, doctor visits, or lost time off of work, then you need to make sure that you have all of this covered by your final settlement amount. You auto accident attorney should be your guide in this process.
Greenville, South Carolina auto accident attorney, H. Chase Harbin has assisted countless clients in their auto accident injury claims. He ensures that you fully understand the process and have the best available legal advice for your unique situation. You can bypass the confusion and minimize the stress of your auto accident claim with the help of a qualified auto accident attorney like H. Chase Harbin. Call today for a free consultation.