Car accidents are sudden, unexpected events that often result in serious personal injuries. At the scene, drivers involved are often in shock and may not be aware of their legal rights or obligations. Unfortunately, not knowing what to do immediately after your crash or collision can have a major impact on your ability to get damages for the injuries and other losses you suffer. The following are five steps you can take to help protect yourself and your rights in a claim.
1. Make sure a police report is filed.
Under Section 56-5-1220 of the South Carolina Code, drivers are required to report any car accident resulting in injuries or damages to either vehicle to law enforcement immediately. Even if your accident was minor, notifying the police and having them fill out a report at the scene will help to protect you and your rights in a claim. If possible, request a copy of their report at the scene. If you are unable to do so, go to the police station afterwards and get a copy to keep with your personal records.
2. Avoid making any statements at the scene.
While you are likely to be in shock at the accident scene, it is important to be aware of any statements or comments you make that could jeopardize your rights in a claim. Avoid making any incriminating statements to the other driver or the officer that could be used to blame you for the accident. While you will need to provide law enforcement with some basic information about the circumstances leading up to the collision, stick to the basic facts and do not speculate as to the cause.
3. Gather evidence in support of your claim.
While the officer at the scene will include where and when the crash occurred and the circumstances surrounding it in their report, it is important for you to make note of these things yourself. Pay attention to evidence such as skid marks in the road or the smell of alcohol on the other driver’s breath. If possible, use your cellphone to take pictures of both vehicles, the road, and your injuries, and get the names and contact information for any witnesses who may have seen how the accident occurred.
4. Seek medical care as soon as possible.
Regardless of the severity of your car accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even minor accidents can result in serious injuries. Not getting checked by a doctor could result in serious health complications, and it could also impact your ability to get compensation in a claim. Follow all of their instructions regarding activity restrictions and follow up visits.
5. Speak to an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney.
Before making any statements to the insurance company or agreeing to any settlements, reach out and contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC first. We can arrange a consultation with our Aiken, SC car accident attorney, who can advise you on the best course of action to get the maximum amount you are entitled to in your claim.