There is no such thing as an average car accident settlement in South Carolina. Insurance companies and others involved in these claims calculate the potential value of each case based on its own merits. This includes numerous factors the parties must consider when weighing a settlement offer or agreeing to accept a settlement. Most car accident cases settle without going to trial. Many do not require filing a lawsuit, either. The parties often reach a negotiated settlement based on the relevant damages and other factors. If the victim and their attorney disagree on the offer, they may opt to sue the liable party in civil court. This process may encourage a better settlement offer. Alternatively, the plaintiff and their attorney can ask a jury to award a fair payout.
Financial Compensation Can Start the Healing Process for SC Accident Victims
Under South Carolina law, victims of a car crash can be fully compensated for their losses by the person or entity responsible for causing the collision. Although no attorney can guarantee a specific dollar amount, a car accident lawyer can help you better understand what you could reasonably expect to recover. Whether you settle your claim or bring a lawsuit, your compensation will be unique to your particular situation. Your payout will be based on how you can convince the jury or the insurance company of your claim’s worth. Understanding the many factors that influence the settlement value of a case is critical. You need to analyze these factors, determine the value of your damages, and mitigate any negative factors before demanding a just payout. Working with a South Carolina car accident attorney offers one of the best options for ensuring you demand a fair and just settlement in your case. Hiring a law firm has many advantages, including making it easier to determine the possible settlement range of your claim and negotiating a settlement that falls within it.
Factors That Affect a South Carolina Car Accident Settlement
Before you demand a payout, you should understand how much your case is worth. Many factors go into this determination, including how serious your injuries were and how much they will affect your ability to earn a living. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis, so generalizing about how much money someone could recover after a car accident often proves impossible. After an investigation that includes identifying and documenting your damages, your attorney can explain how much compensation they believe you could recover. Their calculation sets the range where a fair settlement offer should fall. It also determines how much they can demand from the insurer in the initial claim. Your compensation could be affected by your case’s strength and the responsible party’s insurance coverage, as well.
- If the defendant was clearly to blame, then the insurance company might be more eager to offer you a generous settlement because you’ll likely win in court.
- If you have skill in negotiating a settlement or convincing a jury you were seriously hurt, this can make a difference, too. This is why many car accident victims hire a South Carolina lawyer who has significant experience with negotiations and trials.
- If the responsible driver had only a $25,000 liability policy limit, you may have a hard time recovering more than $25,000, even if your losses far exceed that number. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your policy could come into play in this situation. It’s important to have help from a lawyer who can look into all available sources of compensation.
How Is Compensation Determined in South Carolina?
The laws in South Carolina indicate that you should be “made whole” after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. This means accident-related costs can get included in your compensation. In general, car accident victims expect to recover money for the losses and expenses incurred because of the crash, including their intangible losses. The lawyer handling the claim can determine the recoverable damages, their value, the overall fair settlement range, and how much to demand initially. They use their experience and knowledge of similar cases to do this. Your attorney should speak openly with you and answer your questions about these values as the case moves forward.
You could recover compensation for:
- Car injury medical costs – Every dollar of your medical bills should get paid, with no co-pays or expenses. The payout should completely cover any legitimate medical treatments arising from the accident. This includes hospital bills, surgeries, medications, diagnostic procedures, visits to specialists, or any other treatments. It also includes rehabilitation, therapies, and other care to return you to your previous activities and abilities or as close as medically possible.
- Future care costs – In many cases, car accident injuries are permanent or last long after your settlement resolves or the trial ends. If you need ongoing pain management, physical therapy, surgeries, or any other future medical treatment, your compensation should include these costs. Attorneys often work with medical experts and economists to estimate these future care expenses.
- Adaptive medical devices – If your injury caused you to suffer an impairment or disability, you may need adaptive devices. From special vehicle accommodations to an electric wheelchair or a ventilator, you may require several medical devices throughout your recovery or even for the rest of your life. Your settlement should cover the cost of these devices. In some cases, regular upgrades could prove necessary. Attorneys handling these cases should work with experts to ensure your settlement includes all relevant expenses.
- Pain management costs – If you have ongoing pain from your injury, you may need pain medication, chiropractic care, or other treatment to help you cope with and minimize the discomfort. The liable party should pay these costly expenses. The effects of taking prescription painkillers also must come into consideration. For example, victims on some types of painkillers cannot drive or operate heavy machinery, keeping them from returning to work.
- Rehabilitative care – If you need physical rehabilitation, either in-patient or outpatient, your compensation should include these costs. For catastrophic injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI), rehabilitation can prove expensive and ongoing for a year or more. This is in addition to other medical care expenses you require during this time.
- Personal care assistance – In some cases, someone who suffers an accident needs ongoing nursing care or will need to go into a nursing home. In other instances, you could remain in your home but need help with basic tasks. These crash-related care costs should get covered.
- Lost income – If you have to miss any work because of your accident-related injuries, you should get compensated for the missed time you would have worked. That holds even if you used sick leave or vacation time. Lost income includes any type of earnings you missed. If you earn a living through a salary, hourly pay, commission, tips, gig work, or piecework, proof of your previous income and documentation of your missed work will allow your attorney to fight for these income losses.
- Reduced earning capacity – Sometimes, a car accident injures someone in such a way that they can no longer work at all. In other cases, your injuries will prevent you from earning what you did before the accident. You should receive compensation if you lose the ability to earn a living or if your income is reduced due to your injuries.
- Loss of services – In some cases, it may prove possible to recover compensation for services an accident victim previously managed for your family but can no longer handle because of their long-term or permanent injuries. This might occur with a stay-at-home mom, for example. The cost of the nanny hired to care for the children might be recoverable.
- Damage to your property – If your car or other property suffered damage in the accident, your compensation should include the cost of repairs or replacements. This also includes costly personal items to replace, such as a smartphone, eyeglasses, or laptop.
- Permanent injury/disfigurement – If you faced disfigurement or a permanent injury, the effects of this lasting harm and its impact on your quality of life get considered when deciding your compensation.
- Pain and suffering – Calculating pain and suffering damages is very difficult because it is hard to put a dollar amount on how much your pain is worth. However, the law says that victims can seek compensation for the physical pain the injuries caused.
- Emotional distress – If you suffer emotional problems due to the crash or injuries, you could be entitled to compensation. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and insomnia are common examples of emotional distress.
Many accident victims endure all the expenses and losses included on this list, but many only face a few of them. Your attorney can work diligently to help you identify and understand the value of your damages, including those beyond this list. This is imperative to getting a fair and appropriate settlement in your case. Understanding your case’s damages and their value can prove very difficult for most accident victims to manage on their own.
Wrongful Death Car Accident Settlements in South Carolina
Those who lost a close relative in a car accident could also seek justice and compensation. Under South Carolina law, the personal representative of a crash victim can file a wrongful death action following their passing. This legal action allows the immediate family members-spouse, children, or parents-to receive compensation based on the family’s losses. The following include wrongful death damages:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Loss of companionship
- Lost financial support
- Other expenses and losses incurred because of the accident
South Carolina law states that a personal representative should manage the claim, and the victim’s heirs receive the proceeds. In many cases, the personal representative is also one of the parties who benefit from the outcome of a wrongful death case. However, a non-family member could also serve in this role. A personal representative is usually the executor of the will, administrator of the estate, or the party named by the probate court to handle the probate process. If you are unsure, your attorney can identify the personal representative in your loved one’s case. Like other personal injury cases, wrongful death cases often settle outside of court. However, going to a jury trial and fighting for a favorable verdict and court-awarded compensation can prove crucial to resolving the case.
How Do I Know What a Fair Settlement Looks Like in My SC Car Accident Case?
Any car accident claim aims to get a fair settlement that covers the range of expenses and losses (known as damages) you incurred because of the crash and your injuries. Victims get justice by holding the at-fault driver or another party legally liable for their damages through an insurance claim or lawsuit. To this end, you must understand the value of your case before you agree to a settlement. Since there is no average car accident settlement in South Carolina, how can you do this? The answer: With help from your lawyer. Your attorney can work with you to identify your damages. They can talk with you, discussing your accident, injuries, treatment, and more. They know the common damages in these collisions and can work to document them. Common evidence in these cases includes:
- Medical bills
- Relevant medical records
- Car repair estimates
- Proof of previous income
- Documentation of time away from work
- Medical expert opinions
- Other receipts and bills
To determine the value of your case, your attorney analyzes this evidence and consults other experts as needed. This often includes doctors, specialists, and economists who can put a price on your future medical needs and provide a better understanding of your prognosis. When it comes to your intangible damages, putting an accurate value on them is essential. They are often the most valuable loss in these cases. Your attorney uses their knowledge of similar cases, their experience with the insurers, and other resources to determine how much your non-economic damages might be worth. Then, your lawyer can calculate the fair settlement range of your South Carolina car accident case and work with you to determine how much you should demand from the insurance company in your claim.
The Role of Car Accident Lawyers in an SC Crash Settlement
In addition to valuing the case and deciding how much to pursue in your claim, your lawyer plays several other roles in ensuring you get a fair opportunity to pursue a payout. This includes:
#1. Navigating Your Claim for You
Most people have never had to file a car accident claim following a serious injury collision before. You may not have confidence in what steps to take or what to do first. Your attorney navigates the claim process for clients every day. In some situations, they handle thousands of cases over decades. They know the process inside and out. When you face serious injuries, you likely want an attorney to argue for all the compensation you need for your care. You are likely undergoing treatment and rehabilitation when you file your claim. You likely do not have time and energy to waste on figuring out the next step in the claims process. When your attorney manages the process, you focus on the most important thing: Your health.
#2. Protecting Your Rights
Car accident attorneys know the tactics insurers and others involved in these cases use to reduce how much your settlement might be worth. Your lawyer handles all communication with the car insurance company, at-fault parties, and others. This reduces the risk of saying something they can use against you or twisting your words to hurt your case. The law firm also takes steps to ensure you get a fair opportunity to pursue compensation by meeting all relevant deadlines in the case.
#3. Ensuring You Get the Information You Need
Your lawyer can prove a great source of information for you, providing all the data and advice you need to make the right decisions about your case. While they provide guidance, all decisions are up to you. This includes deciding when to accept a settlement offer. However, you will never have to face these questions alone. They answer all questions and address your concerns as they arise.
#4. Maximizing Your Payout
Your legal team mitigates issues that come up and works to build the strongest case possible for you. This maximizes your payout based on the details of your case, documented damages, and other factors. Most car accident lawyers work on contingency. They charge no upfront costs or fees. You only pay fees when they recover compensation for you. These fees make up a percentage of the total financial recovery, so the lawyer has the incentive to fight for the best possible settlement for you.
#5. Handling All Negotiations
Your lawyer understands effective and appropriate negotiation tactics and should have years of experience handling these situations. They deal directly with the insurance company, demanding a payout and negotiating for fair compensation based on the value they estimated for your case.
#6. Representing Your Best Interests
Throughout the entire legal process, your attorney advocates on your behalf. This is true in settlement talks with the insurer, in the pre-trial stages of a lawsuit, and at trial. Your legal team should fight for justice for you every step of the way.
When Is a Lawsuit Necessary in a South Carolina Car Accident Case?
Most car accident claims settle without needing to move forward to a jury trial. However, a lawsuit can sometimes prove necessary for some victims. If your attorney recommends filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should take their advice seriously. Ask them questions and get the information you need to decide whether to move forward, but they usually have a good reason why. Some of these reasons include:
- Time is running out based on the applicable statute of limitations.
- The insurer disputes key facts of the case, such as the severity of your injuries.
- The liable party will not accept responsibility, so their insurer will not negotiate.
- The insurer refuses a fair payout based on the value your attorney calculated.
- Other circumstances that they believe are best resolved by a lawsuit.
Ultimately, your attorney can leave whether to sue or not up to you. Remember, most lawsuits never go to trial. However, they know what it takes to recover appropriate and fair compensation. If they advise a lawsuit, consider it a good idea. In many cases, the insurer increases the offer, and an out-of-court settlement is possible.
How Much Money Can You Get From a Car Accident? Get a Free Case Review
Most car accident law firms and attorneys who handle traffic accident cases provide complimentary case reviews and work based on contingency. They offer a chance to discuss your rights, legal options, and the questions you have about your case with a legal professional for free. The value of the compensation you receive after a car wreck has a direct and profound impact on your future quality of life. You likely want to work with car accident lawyers who are dedicated to making sure you get the money you need and deserve. Discussing your case with a local firm that handles these cases frequently is one of the best first steps you can take.
For a free evaluation of your case, call our attorneys at The Louthian Law Firm today at 803-592-6231. You can also fill out our online contact form.