What Compensation Can You Receive after a Car Accident?
Car accidents are surprisingly expensive. Even when accidents happen at low speeds, many motorists will need medical care to treat and rehabilitate their injuries. Because they are in so much pain, these same motorists will also be unable to return to work, so they have no income coming through the door to pay their bills. They probably also need significant repairs to their vehicle and might need to even buy a new car if their old vehicle is totaled.
A car accident claim should provide compensation to take care of all these financial expenses—and much more. If you were hurt in a crash, contact Surasky Law today. We are skilled at maximizing the compensation our clients receive in South Carolina personal injury car accident cases. Below, we look at the different categories of damages our clients might receive and explain how to maximize the amount a client takes home.
Medical expenses can be significant. An injured motorist should receive compensation to cover:
Diagnostic tests and bloodwork
Rehabilitation or physical therapy
Prosthetics, such as wheelchairs
Psychotherapy or mental health counseling
The cost of this care will depend on the severity of our client’s injuries. Serious injuries can leave a person permanently disabled, in which case a client can also seek compensation for future medical expenses.
Lost Wages or Lost Income
Injuries such as fractures, brain injuries, and back injuries can prevent clients from returning into work. Consequently, they lose out on income through no fault of their own. Lost income is a category of damages a client can receive. This is true even if a worker can use “sick time” or short-term disability insurance to cover their lost income.
If you suffer permanent injuries, you might never work again, or you might have to take a less demanding job at a lower salary. In these situations, South Carolina law allows accident victims to seek compensation for future lost income or diminished earning capacity.
Most car accidents cause significant structural damage to the vehicles involved. Our clients can seek compensation to have their car fixed or even replaced. A key limitation is that the car only needs to be returned to the condition it was in right before the crash. So if you drove a 2008 rust bucket that was worth only $1,500, then that is all you will receive in compensation for your car damage.
Other damaged property could include a motorist’s glasses or cell phone, or their pet (since pets are considered personal property). Your pet might need veterinary care to get well.
Pain and Suffering
Some losses are not financial in nature. Nevertheless, injured victims can receive money damages to try and make up for their suffering. In South Carolina, “pain and suffering” is a term used to describe these intangible, non-financial losses:
Mental anguish and/or emotional distress
Loss of enjoyment of life
Unlike the damages listed above, pain and suffering are harder to quantify. Nevertheless, our firm has decades of experience negotiating settlements and can estimate a fair amount of compensation.
What Can Reduce the Damages You Receive
When we meet with clients, we estimate the amount of compensation they could receive in a settlement or lawsuit. Although facts will change, this estimate gives us some idea of how much a claim is worth.
However, there are certain factors which can reduce the amount of compensation available in any case:
Comparative negligence. South Carolina allows motorists to seek compensation for a car accident provided they aren’t more at fault than the other driver. Any compensation gets reduced by the driver’s percentage of fault. Consequently, someone with $100,000 losses who is 30% at fault will receive only $70,000. One can only know the final sum after trial, as this is decided then.
Insurance. Most accident settlements are funded with insurance, which motorists must purchase to register their vehicles. Currently, however, South Carolina only requires that motorists carry 25/50/25 coverage. This means one victim can receive at most $25,000 for bodily injuries and $25,000 for property damage. If more than one person is hurt, then the maximum available is $50,000 paid to all victims. A defendant might not have any other assets to use to pay compensation.
Hit and run accident. If the other driver flees, then it can be very difficult to receive compensation because you cannot identify the driver to sue. A victim will probably need to make a claim on their uninsured motorist coverage.
Failure to mitigate damages. Motorists must take reasonable steps to treat their physical injuries following a wreck. If they don’t, then they can’t receive compensation for the damage they are responsible for.
How to Maximize Your Compensation
There are certain steps we recommend that motorists take to maximize their compensation. Although we can’t guarantee you will have all your losses covered, the following steps do increase the odds of receiving a fair settlement.
First, anyone involved in an accident should visit the hospital immediately. Remember to follow your doctor’s orders so that you make maximum improvement. Attend all physical therapy and don’t neglect your mental health.
Second, a motorist should gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident to help establish fault for the crash. We recommend speaking to witnesses and taking pictures of the cars involved.
Third, you should call the police at the scene of the accident. If the driver who struck you fled, you can share with the officer any details you remember, such as the color and make of the car.
Fourth, you should never give a recorded statement to an insurer, who might be digging for information to use against you. Let an attorney handle all the communications with insurance adjusters.
Contact Surasky Law to Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer
Car accident claims are hard to present effectively. When clients have serious injuries, they need full and fair compensation to return to their normal lives. However, insurers are often stingy with their settlement offers and no one should ever sign on the dotted line until you have met with an Aiken, SC personal injury attorney to go over the offer. Please call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation.