In the aftermath of a South Carolina car accident, you may feel shaken up. It can be a stressful and confusing time. This is especially true if the crash was another driver’s fault. To make sure you don’t jeopardize a potential claim for damages, it is helpful to follow the steps outlined in this car accident checklist. Read this complete car accident guide so you’ll know what to do after a car wreck in South Carolina.
What to Do at the Scene of the Accident
The steps you take right after you find yourself in a car crash are among the most important. You will not have another chance to do many of these things after you leave the accident scene. If you are too injured to complete these steps, try to get someone else to do them for you. If not, it’s most important to focus on your injuries first.
Move to a Safe Space
If it is reasonably possible, move your car to a safe place to avoid blocking traffic. This might be a nearby parking lot or the highway shoulder. Do not try to move your car if it seems unsafe to do so. Once your car is out of the way, turn on your hazard lights. Move yourself and any passengers to a safe distance off the road.
Seek Emergency Medical Care
Even if you’re unsure whether someone needs emergency medical care, it is a good idea to call an ambulance to the scene. The paramedics can assess injuries and provide emergency treatment. If someone needs to go to the hospital, the EMTs will tell you. Many head, neck, and back injuries may not be immediately obvious.
Seeking prompt medical treatment is also important for legal reasons. Refusing medical care may be used against you to deny or minimize your injury claim later on. If you do not go to the ER, visit an urgent care center on your own, ideally on the same day. Your health is the top priority.
Call the Police to the Scene
South Carolina drivers are legally required to report a car accident to the police. Calling 911 is the fastest and easiest way to satisfy this requirement. The police officer will write up a report to document the car crash. If an officer does not attend the scene, you are required to file a report yourself.
Record the Car Crash Details
While you are still at the scene of the crash, it’s crucial to record the details of the car accident. Do not rely on your memory, as memories can be fuzzy or unclear. Write down detailed notes, record a voice note, and take photos and videos. It can be helpful to sketch a simple diagram and draw what happened.
Information you’ll want to record includes:
- How the accident happened
- The specific location of the accident
- The direction in which each car was driving
- Road conditions
- Traffic signs and hazards
- Weather conditions
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to other vehicles
- Property damage
- Photos of any injuries
- Skid marks and other scene details
- Dashcam footage
- How the other driver is acting
- What the other driver is saying
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state. Fault is assigned as a percentage. This dramatically affects your ability to recover damages. Gather plenty of evidence to support your claim.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Along with reporting the accident to the police, South Carolina drivers are also required to exchange information with the other driver. If you get into a crash with a drunk driver, the police may be able to help you with getting their information. As you exchange information, never apologize or admit fault. This may be used against you later on.
The information you will need to exchange includes:
- Driver’s full name
- Driver’s license number
- Full address and phone number
- Make, model, year, and color of the vehicle
- Vehicle license plate and registration number
- Insurance company and policy number
Retain a Copy of the Police Report
When law enforcement responds to the scene of an accident, officers complete a police report. Get the business card of the officer attending the scene. When speaking with them, request a copy of the police report for your records as well. The officer may assign fault in their report, but this is generally not admissible in court.
The South Carolina traffic collision report is also called the TR-310 form. It details key information about the crash. The officer submits it to the DMV. The officer may also complete an FR-10 form. This green document verifies that the vehicles in the accident had valid insurance.
Collect Contact Information of Any Witnesses
It is helpful to get the contact information of any eyewitnesses. Other drivers may pull over to help. Pedestrians passing by may also offer help. Get their contact information in case you want to follow up later on. This also applies to EMTs or other professionals who attend the scene. You may also note the name of the ER doctor if you go to the hospital.
What to Do After the Car Accident
Shortly after the car crash, it is prudent to follow certain steps to protect your legal rights.
Hire a Reputable Accident Attorney
Navigating the legal processes of a car accident can be difficult or confusing. Christopher Pracht and the team at Pracht Injury Lawyers can put your mind at ease. With years of experience handling accident claims, Mr. Pracht can answer any questions you may have and offer sound advice on how to proceed. Read what clients have said about working with him to resolve their personal injury claims.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Your auto insurance policy likely requires you to report all accidents in a timely manner. This includes car crashes where you are not at fault.
Before calling your insurance, it’s advisable to seek the counsel of a reputable car accident lawyer. The team at Pracht Injury Lawyers can advise how you should interact with your insurance to protect your interests. With a claim number and the adjuster’s contact information, you’ll be better equipped to proceed with seeking compensation for damages. Do not accept any settlement offers from the other insurance company until you’ve consulted with your lawyer.
Keep Copies of All Relevant Documents and Evidence
The more evidence you have to support your claim, the better. Your attorney will be able to guide you through this. As you proceed with your claim, be sure to keep copies of everything that may be relevant. Provide these copies to your lawyer.
This may include:
- Pay stubs showing lost wages
- Medical bills
- Medical reports and test results
- Records of medical appointments
- List of treatments and medication
- Transportation costs
- Letters from the insurance companies
- Other correspondence
- A personal injury journal
What to Do in the Days and Weeks to Come
In many cases, the claims process can take a while to resolve. As you proceed through the car accident checklist, stay vigilant with these tasks.
Seek Fair Compensation for Damages
To cover lost wages, medical bills, and other damages, you will need to seek fair compensation. Your attorney will help with this. This may involve negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company. If it comes to it, you may need to file a civil lawsuit in court. The other insurer will not be on your side and will want to settle for the smallest amount possible. They may even deny your claim. By working with the skilled team at Pracht Injury Lawyers, you improve your chances of receiving the maximum settlement.
Continue Receiving Medical Care and Support
Calling an ambulance to the scene of the accident shows that you take your injuries seriously. The same is true by continuing to follow the treatment and advice of your doctor and other medical professionals. If you ignore treatment, the other party may use that as evidence to downplay your injuries and deny your claim.
Keep up with regular visits with your doctor. This creates a paper trail to document how your injuries progress over time. Are they getting better or worse? In what way? This is all evidence to support your claim.