Car Accident Questions and Answers for Drivers in Georgia and South Carolina
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What are possible sources of compensation after a car accident?
When you are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it can turn your life upside down in ways you never imagined. You may suffer serious injuries, such as head injuries, back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, or burns that can require months or longer of medical treatment and time off work while you are recovering. Some injuries, such as paralysis, chronic back injuries, and traumatic brain injury, could limit your ability to work and perform your day-to-day activities for the rest of your life. Your financial loss can be huge, and you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries. Here, we discuss possible sources of compensation that you may not think about that can help you achieve this goal.
Why Pursuing a Claim With the Negligent Driver’s Insurance Company May Not Fully Compensate You
While the negligent driver is ultimately liable for fully compensating you for your losses, his insurance company is only obligated to pay you the maximum liability coverage that the driver had purchased. In Georgia and South Carolina, the minimum liability insurance coverage is $25,000 for injury or death per person, $50,000 for more than one person per accident and $25,000 in property damage per accident. If the negligent driver who caused your injuries had only $25,000 in personal injury coverage, this may not fully compensate you if you suffered any injuries other than very minor ones even if you received the entire amount in settlement.
What Are Other Possible Sources of Compensation You Should Pursue?
Just because the driver may not have sufficient liability coverage does not mean that you should not file a claim with his insurance company. This should be where you first turn for compensation. Other possible avenues of payment you should consider include:
- Umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is additional liability insurance coverage that the negligent driver may have purchased to protect himself if he is sued. If he has one, you would want to file a claim under this policy as well as his basic automobile liability coverage.
- Negligent driver. If the negligent driver does not have sufficient insurance to fully pay you, he is legally responsible for the balance. You may be able to file a lawsuit and obtain a judgment against him. However, the practical reality is that he probably does not have sufficient assets to pay you what you are owed. This is a reason you may need to turn to other sources.
- Other negligent parties. You always want to pursue claims against any other negligent parties, which can include other drivers or negligent parties under Georgia’s dram shop and social host laws. If a manufacturing defect in one of the vehicles involved in the crash caused your injuries, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. If you purchased UM or UIM automobile coverage , you could file a claim under this coverage with your own insurance company. However, you may be surprised to discover that these claims can be challenging to settle, and you should let an experienced car accident attorney negotiate this settlement for you.
- MedPay. While you are not required to purchase MedPay in Georgia, if you did purchase it, it may be a source of compensation for your medical bills—even if you were the at-fault driver.
- Personal injury protection (PIP). Georgia does not require that you purchase PIP coverage, but if you did, it could pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and death benefits if a loved one was killed in the accident.
- Your health insurance. If you have health insurance through your employer or under the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance may pay your medical bills. However, you may have to reimburse these payments if you receive a settlement from other sources.
Did you suffer injuries in a car accident? We understand the importance of filing multiple claims in these cases and are here to identify all possible sources of compensation for you—no matter whether you suffered catastrophic or less serious injuries. Contact us online or call our office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation. We will discuss our plan on fighting to obtain the compensation you deserve.
How can I help my attorney in my auto accident case?
After obtaining the medical care you need following a car accident, one of your first steps should be to retain an experienced car accident attorney to help you file your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Once you do this, you can hopefully rest easy knowing that your lawyer will thoroughly investigate your crash, build your case against the at-fault driver, and fight hard to settle your claim for what you are entitled to. However, you will make your attorney’s job harder and possibly reduce the amount you receive in settlement if you do not help him in your case.
Ways You Can Help Your Attorney Strengthen Your Claim for Compensation Following a Car Wreck
When you retain a lawyer to file your claim for you, you become a team with the goal of holding the negligent driver accountable for paying you the full amount you deserve. Your actions in your case can help your attorney—or hurt your claim. Here are ways that you can be a good team member and strengthen your right to compensation:
- Be truthful. Whatever you tell your attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege, which means that the negligent driver’s insurance company or anyone else will not find out about your conversations. Your attorney needs to hear the whole story about your accident and your injuries even if there are facts that could make you appear partially at fault in causing the crash or otherwise hurt your claim. He cannot effectively represent you if he does not know everything from you. When your attorney finds out potentially harmful information in the course of negotiations or litigation, this can make it difficult or impossible for him to negotiate a fair settlement for you.
- Follow up on medical care. One of the best ways you can help your attorney is to follow your doctor’s advice as to your treatment, go to all doctor’s appointments, attend all physical therapy sessions, and otherwise do everything you can to get better. When you miss doctor and other health care provider appointments or have large periods of time with no treatments, you give the insurance adjuster ammunition to argue about how serious your injuries really are. In addition, this can irritate your doctor and make him a weaker expert witness on your behalf.
- Only discuss your case with your lawyer. You only want to discuss your case with your attorney. If you discuss it with family and friends, the insurance adjuster may find out what you said and try to use your words against you to deny or reduce your claim.
- Be careful of social media posts. While you may not be able to stay off your social media sites, you want to be careful not to post anything about the accident, your injuries, and treatments. Pictures and posts showing you at locations where you are too injured to be or doing activities you should not be able to do can hurt your claim too. You must realize that the adjuster for the negligent driver could search your social media sites at various times for posts that could weaken your claim and act accordingly.
- Provide information on time. Whenever your attorney requests documents, contact information for witnesses, or other information from you, you want to provide it on a timely basis. The sooner you provide the requested information to him the quicker he can move your claim forward.
- Ask questions. You need to understand what is going on in your case and what your legal options are. If you do not understand something, you should ask your attorney to explain it. This can foster good communication between you and your attorney, help you understand his strategy, and enable you to better assist him.
Let Chris Hudson & Associates Help You File Your Claim After an Auto Accident
Do you need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Let our experienced car accident attorneys take over the burden of investigating your accident, filing your claim, and negotiating your settlement for you. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.795.6261 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Should I sign a medical authorization for release of information for the negligent driver’s insurance company?
Soon after your car wreck, the other driver’s insurance company could be contacting you to sign an authorization for your medical records. This may seem like a reasonable request to process your claim. However, like many decisions in your case, signing a medical authorization is not as easy as it sounds.
Reasons Not to Sign the Insurance Company’s Medical Release
While it is true that the insurance company will need your medical records for the injuries you suffered in this accident, you do not have to sign a medical release to provide these documents to the adjuster. You can simply have your attorney obtain and send them on your behalf. Reasons you do not want to sign a medical release include:
- It provides total access. Medical releases prepared by insurance companies are blanket authorizations that give them access to your prior medical records as well as the ones for this wreck. They do not need your prior medical history, and it could give them ammunition to deny or reduce your claim.
- It may reveal preexisting injuries. The medical authorization could allow the insurance adjuster to obtain your medical records regarding a former injury to the same part of your body that may have no bearing on your current injury. However, adjusters love to use this information to argue that your injury was caused by this earlier incident and not their driver’s negligent actions.
- It is an invasion of your privacy. Your medical records contain private information about you that you may not want to disclose to the insurance adjuster or anyone else. You should protect your privacy by refusing to sign the insurance adjuster’s medical authorization.
You should never sign a medical authorization for release of information—or any other legal document—without first having an experienced car accident attorney review it to avoid making an inadvertent mistake or waiving your legal rights. However, if you already signed a medical release for the insurance company, you have not made a fatal mistake in your case. Call me today at 706-863-6600 or toll free at 888-795-6261 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company for the negligent driver who hit me?
Do not be surprised if the insurance adjuster for the driver who caused your auto accident contacts you within days of the crash. This often happens—especially if the insurance adjuster is worried that his driver faces liability for your injuries. One of the first things adjusters typically ask victims to do is to give a recorded statement. Do not make a mistake in your case by agreeing to this. Here’s why you want to say no to this request.
Why You Do Not Want to Agree to a Recorded Statement
A recorded statement is a question-and-answer session with the insurance adjuster which is taped and later made into a written document.
The insurance adjuster may make it seem like he needs it to process your claim. However, this is not true. You are not required to give a recorded statement, and it is rarely helpful to your claim. Here’s why you should never agree to these recorded statements:
- Statements can be used against you. The reason the adjuster wants to take your statement is not to help pay your claim. He is looking for statements you make that he can use against you later—including at a possible trial. Even if you have nothing to hide, you may say something you did not mean or something slightly inconsistent with what you told the police—and that can be used against you.
- Your words can be twisted. Adjusters are experts at taking recorded statements because they do them so frequently. They are trained to ask confusing and misleading questions that could lead to an answer that can hurt your case.
There are many ways you could say something that could come back to haunt you. These inadvertent mistakes include:
- You might forget to discuss an important detail.
- You could say something incorrectly.
- You could answer a question incorrectly either because you did not understand it or did not think through your answer before talking.
- You may give additional information that the adjuster does not need that provides ammunition for denying or reducing your claim.
Steps You Should Take If You Are Asked to Give a Recorded Statement
You should take these simple steps if you are asked to give a recorded statement: Politely refuse to give one, obtain the adjuster’s contact information, and inform him that you will have your attorney contact him. Then retain an experienced car accident attorney who can help you negotiate your settlement.
If you did give a recorded statement, you did not ruin your case. Your lawyer will have worked with other clients who made a similar mistake. Make a good decision today and start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our firm can assist you.
Do I need to see a doctor right after my car accident?
You may be tempted to not seek medical treatment after a car accident, especially if the vehicles were traveling at a slow speed and you do not believe you were injured. This could be a big mistake if you later need to pursue a claim for compensation against the negligent driver. Any time you are involved in a car crash, you should see a doctor immediately if there is any chance you suffered injuries.
Reasons You Want to Obtain Prompt Medical Care
You may not realize you suffered an injury in your accident because adrenaline from the excitement and stress of the crash could kick in, masking the pain. However, even “minor” rear-end collisions or side-impact ones can cause surprisingly serious injuries. Reasons you want to see a doctor right away include:
- To obtain the medical care you need. If your injuries are obvious, you should know that you need to see your doctor. However, some victims try to tough it out, causing themselves more pain and risking complications. In addition, you could experience a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal or back injuries, or internal bleeding, where the symptoms do not develop until days or weeks after your crash. Seek medical care soon after the wreck to avoid causing your medical condition to worsen into an emergency situation.
- To document your injury. If you must seek compensation from the driver who caused your crash, you not only need to prove his negligence, but also that your injuries were caused by his actions. Seeking medical care is a crucial way of documenting that your accident caused your injuries.
- To avoid a legal issue. Whenever an accident victim delays getting medical care, it gives ammunition to the negligent driver’s insurance company to deny the victim’s claim. Insurance adjusters frequently argue that the injuries were caused by a reason other than the accident when a victim waits to see a doctor. Do not give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim by failing to seek medical care promptly.
Hopefully, you sought medical care right away. If you did not, do not think this is a fatal mistake. You could still be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver. I urge you to call me today at 706-863-6600 or toll free at 888-795-6261 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
I really don’t want to go to trial. Should I still call an attorney after a car accident?
Yes. If you were hurt in a car accident, if your child was hurt in a car accident, or if your loved one died in a car accident, you should schedule a free initial consultation with a car accident attorney even if you have no intention of going to trial.
Most Car Accident Cases Are Resolved Before Trial
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about 4% of tort cases, or personal injury lawsuits, go to trial. The remaining 96% percent of personal injury cases—including car accident cases—are resolved in other ways. These resolutions may be achieved through settlement negotiations and judges’ rulings.
Car accident claims will not automatically settle even if the other party was clearly at fault for your accident injuries. Instead, you will have to work toward securing a fair settlement that includes compensation for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Other damages
If you fail to recover these damages, someone else’s negligence can leave you not only with the physical pain that you are suffering from but also from overwhelming bills that may ruin your financial future.
A settlement can help you avoid the financial consequences of a car accident, and an attorney can help you get the fair settlement that you deserve. Specifically, an attorney can:
- Inform you of your rights. This will help you learn who was at fault for the accident and what you may realistically recover from these parties.
- Gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim. Attorneys know how to get important information through the legal discovery process so that you have the facts that you need to support your legal arguments.
- Negotiate directly with the insurance company. It is the insurance adjuster’s job to try to get you to accept the lowest possible settlement for your accident injuries. You should expect that the insurance adjuster is an experienced negotiator. Attorneys are also experienced negotiators and, unlike an insurance adjuster, an attorney represents you and will advocate for your full and fair recovery.
Some cases may settle before a formal lawsuit is filed in court, and others may settle after a complaint has been filed and the lawsuit has been initiated.
The Court System Without a Bench or Jury Trial
Even if you file a lawsuit, you may still be able to recover damages without going to trial. This may be true even if a fair settlement cannot be agreed upon. A judge may resolve a claim in your favor without a trial by ruling on your attorney’s:
- Motion for Summary Judgment. You may claim that the facts of the case are undisputed and that when law is applied to those facts, the outcome of the case is clear. If the judge agrees, your motion for summary judgment will be granted and you will be entitled to damages.
- Motion for Default Judgment. If the defendant fails to answer your complaint or meet the court deadline in another accepted way, you may ask the court to rule in your favor because of the defendant’s default and you may be entitled to damages.
It is also important to note that the defendant may try to resolve the case in court prior to trial by filing a motion to dismiss.
An attorney can help you file the appropriate motions with the right evidence and convincing arguments and an attorney can help you defend against a motion to dismiss that could end your claim without any recovery.
Either Way, You Can Benefit From Working With an Attorney
While the majority of car accidents cases settle without a bench or jury trial, your goal is not only to avoid a lawsuit but also to get the recovery you deserve. In order to do that you have the right to work with someone who knows the law, who knows how to gather the evidence needed, and who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies and protect your rights in court.
To learn more about the benefits of working with an attorney—even if you will never go to trial—please schedule your own free, no obligation consultation with us today.
How long do I have to file a car accident suit in South Carolina?
If you are hurt in a car accident in South Carolina, you have up to three years to file a personal injury claim for damages, according to the state’s statute of limitations.
Don’t Wait That Long
While you technically have three years to file a personal injury claim, it is important to take action immediately. By taking prompt action after an injury, you can:
- Make sure that relevant evidence is preserved.
- Recover damages more quickly.
Your attorney can talk to you about the right time to file a claim and about how to protect your rights.
Some Exceptions Apply
While most cases need to be filed within three years of your car accident injury, South Carolina law does provide some exceptions to that general rule. Specifically, the statute of limitations may be tolled—or temporarily suspended—if:
- You were a minor at the time of the crash. If you were under age 18 and your parents or guardians failed to take action on your behalf then you have one year from your 18th birthday to pursue a car accident case.
- You were mentally incompetent at the time of the crash. If you were not mentally competent at the time of the accident, you have one year from the time you were designated competent to pursue a car accident case.
Your case begins when a summons and complaint are filed in court and service to the defendant is made within 120 days of the court filing. If you have questions about what to do after a car accident, how to start a case, or about your rights, then please start a live chat with us today to learn more.
How long do I have to file a car accident suit in Georgia?
Generally, you have two years from the date you were injured to file a lawsuit in Georgia. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you wait until the statute of limitations expires, you will be forever barred from bringing your case to court and it is extremely unlikely that you will ever recover damages for the injuries that you sustained in the car crash.
Exceptions to the Georgia Statute of Limitations
Georgia law provides for a few exceptions to the general two year statute of limitations. Specifically, the time you have to file your case in court may be extended beyond the typical two year limit if:
- You were under the age of 18 when you were hurt. Generally, if your parents or guardians failed to take action on your behalf, you have two years from the time you turn 18 to file a personal injury case.
- You were mentally incompetent at the time that you were hurt. If you were mentally incompetent at the time of your injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled and begin running when you are mentally competent to make important legal decisions on your own behalf.
- The defendant was in bankruptcy. In some cases a bankruptcy may toll, or extend, the statute of limitations.
However, you shouldn’t count on an exception applying in your case.
And You Shouldn’t Wait Until Your Time Is Almost Up to Take Action
There are two important reasons to take action quickly after a car crash. First, it may be easier to find evidence that will be helpful to the outcome of your case closer to the time of the crash. Second, you may recover damages sooner if you pursue a claim sooner. Accordingly, we encourage you to protect your rights and take action quickly after a Georgia car accident leaves you injured.
Hit-and-runs accidents are terrifying, but I have no idea what to do if I am ever in that situation. Help!
No one expects to be involved in a car accident, but we would all like to think that we would know what to do if ever involved in one. We’ll pull off to the side of the road, exchange information with the other driver, notify the authorities, and hopefully drive off to fix damage that is only minor.
Unfortunately, this may be oversimplifying accidents a bit. After an accident, you may experience adrenaline, stress, and fear. You probably barely remember where your registration is, let alone all of the important things you have to do in the moments following an accident. Luckily, most drivers are in the exact same state of mind, and you can both work through the first confusing moments together as you try to make sense of what just happened.
When the Other Driver Leaves the Scene
As stressful as even the most textbook fender-bender can be, when the other driver leaves the scene, the stress grows exponentially. Suddenly, you must worry about more than simply fixing damage—you and your car are now part of a crime—even if you are simply the victim.
While there is no silver lining to a hit-and-run wreck, there is one thing you can be certain of: you have the same post-accident duties as any other wreck. Essentially, you need to gather information, notify the proper parties, and get medical attention as soon as possible. Here’s the breakdown:
- Get as much information about the car that hit you as possible. While a license plate number would be ideal, details like color, make, model, and approximate model year can help the authorities locate the party responsible for hitting you.
- Report the accident to the police first, and then your insurance company. Just like any other accident, you need to inform the police, but it is even more important after a hit-and-run. Be sure to let them know everything that you can about the car that hit you.
- If there are witnesses, get their contact information. A witness account of the wreck can be used by the police and your insurer when you pursue your claim.
- If you suffered injuries, don’t tough it out—seek medical attention right away. Not only is this the best for your case, it is the best for you.
Hit-and-run accidents are extremely tricky, and it is often in your best interest to contact an attorney to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. If you are ever involved in an accident in which the other driver flees the scene, contact Augusta auto accident attorney Chris Hudson to discuss your options in a free, no-obligation consultation.
I was hurt in a car accident, so why was my auto insurance claim denied?
After an accident, it may seem clear to you: you’ve got an insurance policy, so you’re covered when you get into an accident. After all, that’s what you’ve been paying for all these years when you didn’t have any accidents—right? Unfortunately, there are often cases where people in your very shoes are denied, and they are left wondering what steps to take next.
When your claim has been denied after an accident, it is probably for one of two reasons. Most frequently, it is an error or omission on the part of the insured. Sometimes the auto insurance company is operating in bad faith or has made a mistake, leaving you in a potentially devastating situation. In either case, it is worth looking into the matter, and potentially seeking legal help.
Why Your Claim May Have Been Denied After Your Accident
In a perfect world, your auto insurance company trusts you fully and covers your legitimate claims without a second thought. While fraudulent claims aren’t terribly common, many insurance adjusters are on the hunt, and can be a little overzealous in their suspicions—but sometimes, claimants make mistakes, too.
One of the most common reasons accident claims are denied is that the damage that you are claiming simply is not covered. This could be because your policy does not cover the type of damage you incurred, or because you missed a payment and your coverage lapsed. Either way, this is a very challenging matter to dispute, unless your damage should have been covered in the first place.
Another common reason claims are denied is because the claimant failed to seek prompt medical attention, or there are complications such as preexisting medical conditions. Situations like these can muddy the waters of successful claims, and you may want to seek legal advice if this seems to be the case.If you are confident that you followed all the rules and that your claim is legitimate, there is also the possibility that your insurance company made a mistake or is operating in bad faith—in either scenario, it is important that you seek the advice of a skilled auto accident attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. If you’d like to discuss your claim further, contact accident attorney Chris Hudson today to schedule your free consultation.