Car travel is an everyday part of life. Unfortunately, so are car accidents, which may leave a victim injured and facing massive bills, lost wages, and an uncertain future. Each year more than 6 million car accidents take place in the United States.
After a crash, most people want to know how much compensation they can potentially receive. Every car accident is unique, and every settlement will be different. There are many factors involved in determining a car accident settlement, including the severity of the victim’s injuries and whether there is strong evidence the other party was negligent.
If you or someone you love was harmed in a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney from the Hughey Law Firm to answer all your legal questions.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Determining what caused an accident can be complicated. There may be one primary factor or multiple factors. Human error causes the vast majority of accidents. No matter how cautious a driver is, they can only control their own actions and not those of other drivers.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States include:
- Speeding – About 9,000 people die in accidents involving speeding every year. Speeding is a danger to everyone on the road. It reduces reaction time and increases the impact of a crash.
- Distracted driving – Anything that distracts a person from driving is hazardous, whether that’s eating, checking text messages, changing the stereo, or programming the navigation system. In the few brief seconds that a driver’s attention is not on the road, there may be a devastating accident. It’s against the law to text and drive in 48 states. Still, 2,935 fatal crashes involving distractions took place on U.S. roadways in just one year, amounting to 9% of all fatal crashes.
- Driving while impaired – Despite many government and private efforts to reduce DUIs, alcohol and drug use are a major cause of traffic accidents. Drunk driving accidents led to 10,511 fatalities in just one year. Some prescription and even over-the-counter drugs also impair judgment and coordination.
- Tailgating and aggressive driving – Safe driving requires patience, focus, and a calm mind. However, many aggressive drivers tailgate, weave in and out of lanes, change lanes without signaling, run red lights, or drive recklessly. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that about 78% of surveyed drivers reported expressing aggression or road rage in the past year.
- Drowsy driving – Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, driving while drowsy or fatigued is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and more than 40,000 injuries each year.
- Vehicle defects –We expect our cars to keep us safe, but sometimes our cars are unsafe due to improper design or manufacturing. If these defects cause an accident, the manufacturer or others in the chain of distribution might be liable.
Car accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries, including:
- Back and neck injuries.
- Head injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Broken bones.
- Lacerations and bruises.
- Internal injuries.
- Seat belt injuries.
South Carolina Laws
South Carolina imposes financial responsibilities on drivers. These laws require, for example, that drivers maintain insurance policies for their vehicles. South Carolina law also requires anyone who was in an accident that was not investigated by law enforcement and resulted in injury, death, or damages worth at least $400, to fill out a Traffic Collision Report. Be sure to keep a copy of the Traffic Collision Report when filed.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, you must be aware of the statute of limitations, the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a car accident case is usually three years from the date of the accident.
What Determines the Amount of Compensation I Can Get?
Every car accident case is different, so it can be difficult to put a dollar value on a case. If you plan to file a case, it is important to establish how the injury has harmed you financially and altered your life.
Factors that influence settlements include:
- What type of injury did the victim suffer?
- How severe is the injury?
- How long will the injury last, and what is the likelihood of full recovery?
- How will the injury affect the victim’s quality of life?
- How likely is it that a jury will find the other driver liable?
- How much are the victim’s current and future lost wages?
- Did the accident cause fatal injuries?
What Compensation Might You Expect?
It is relatively easy to add up current medical bills or lost wages. However, predicting future needs and valuing intangible losses is harder. Ideally, the goal of your car accident settlement is to compensate you for any negative impacts on your life as a result of the accident.
For the sake of your health and to support any future claims, it is important to get medical attention immediately after the accident. Early treatment might reveal injuries you are not even aware of. As a general rule, someone with severe, long-term injuries will receive greater compensation. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will improve your chances of a full recovery. Also, unless you obtain proper medical care, the responsible party may claim that you made your condition worse by failing to get treatment.
Damages you may seek can include:
- Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgeries and procedures, rehabilitation or other therapies, durable medical equipment, and modifications to your home.
- Lost wages.
- Pain and suffering.
- Wrongful death.
- Punitive damages, which are sometimes available in cases where the defendant engaged in willful misconduct, malice, or wanton disregard for others’ safety.
Get the Settlement You Deserve
In some cases, the at-fault party or their insurance representative may offer an out-of-court settlement soon after the accident. Such an offer may be tempting because you may be injured, traumatized, and have serious bills to deal with. However, they are likely to offer a low settlement in the hope that you will accept it and thereby lose the right to seek additional recovery in court. If an offer arrives, always discuss the proposed settlement with a qualified attorney before accepting it.
Car accidents can result in severe or fatal injuries. If you or someone you love was harmed in a car accident, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464