Being involved in any car accident is terrifying. Believing that you are the one who caused the collision will only add to your stress levels. You will have a lot to think about, including dealing with your medical bills and property damage in addition to the other person’s bills. You may also wonder whether the crash will affect your insurance rates. If you are involved in an accident that was your own fault, you should consider taking these steps:
- Keep a clear head.
It won’t help you to panic after an accident. You should do your best to keep calm and focus on what you need to do to protect yourself and others at the scene.
- Check for damage and injuries.
You should survey the damage to the vehicles and ask whether anyone is hurt. If you or the other driver are seriously injured, you should call 911 right away.
- Report the accident to the police.
In South Carolina, you must report the accident to the police if a crash results in injury or death. With that said, even if the vehicle damage and/or injuries appear to be minor, you should still call the police. Doing so will create a record.
- Exchange information with all parties involved.
Regardless of whether you call the police, you should make sure to get the personal information of everyone who is involved in the accident. You should also scan the area for witnesses who may have seen the accident. By getting their information down now, it will be easier to track them down later on. A witness could end up providing the missing piece of the puzzle and provide information which clears you of fault.
- Take photos.
You can use a camera or even the camera on your cell phone. You should make sure to get photos of the damage to both cars – front and back, both sides. You may even try to get shots of the interiors. You should also try to get photos of the surrounding area and document anything that could have played a role in causing the collision. For instance, your photos may show that thick trees blocked a stop sign or approaching traffic. Additionally, photos serve as objective proof of the conditions at the time of the crash, including road and weather conditions. In that sense, photos can prevent people from changing or embellishing their version of the facts later on.
- Try to keep vehicles from blocking the roadway.
You should document the scene but not at the expense of causing another accident or blocking traffic. If you can safely move your vehicle from the roadway, you should do so as soon as possible. Sadly, many tragic accidents occur when drivers fail to see vehicles that are stopped on the road due to an accident.
- Do not admit fault.
Even if you believe that you may have caused the accident, do not admit fault at the scene of the collision. You should leave the determination of fault to professionals who know how to investigate an accident. Keep in mind: Anything you say could end up being used against you by the other driver’s insurance company.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company.
In order to get the ball rolling on the claims side, you need to contact your own insurance company. Again, you should not admit fault. Instead, you should stick to the basic facts.
- Contact an attorney before talking to the other party’s insurance company.
You will need to talk with the other insurance company at some point. However, you will need to be cautious about what you say. You should not give a recorded statement, and you should never admit fault. The best thing to do is to avoid talking with the other driver’s insurance company until you talk with a lawyer first.
- Get medical attention.
Even if your injuries seem minor, it will be important to see a doctor to at least get checked out after the accident. For instance, some soft tissue injuries may not appear until a day or two later. You may have more severe injuries that you don’t even realize. Sometimes, internal injuries may not present immediate symptoms.
- Follow your doctor’s orders.
If your doctor recommends that you rest or refrain from doing particular activities, you need to listen to the doctor. If there is a chance you can recover any compensation from the other party, you need to ensure that you follow the doctor’s orders, or the insurance company may try to deny your claim.
Do You Need an Attorney If You Think the Accident Was Your Fault?
It may be possible that you were not 100 percent at fault in an accident. This is extremely important. South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state. Under the law, a plaintiff can recover damages in a car accident claim only if the plaintiff’s fault is less than 50 percent. Even if the plaintiff is eligible to recover damages, the damages will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
So, in your case, it may be determined that you were less than 50 percent at fault, which would make you eligible to recover damages instead of the other driver. Even if you were more than 50 percent at fault, the amount paid to the other party may be less than 100 percent, which could potentially have an impact on your auto insurance rates. Your attorney will help by gathering evidence and preparing the strongest case possible, which is one of the reasons why retaining an attorney is important.
Get Help from a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney Today
If you were involved in a collision — even one you believe to be your fault —you should contact the skilled and experienced team of South Carolina car accident attorneys at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. Experience, compassion and attention to detail are the guiding principles that we base our practice on. To learn more, call or reach us online today for a free consultation.
After he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1987, Jim Tucker joined the law firm of McKinney, Givens & Millar in Rock Hill. He has remained with successor firms at the same location ever since while focusing his practice in the areas of family law and personal injury law. Jim is licensed in South Carolina and North Carolina, and he represents clients in both states at the trial and appellate levels. Jim is also a certified mediator and a highly active member of several state and local legal organizations who once served as President of the York County Bar Association.