Car Accident Lawyer in Columbia, SC

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People in Columbia rely on their cars.  Commuting to work, running errands, or even driving to church can become a nightmare if another driver runs a red light or makes a mistake behind the wheel.

Even worse, if you have been in an accident, insurance companies can delay payment and may not offer to pay enough to cover your injuries.  Accepting an initial insurance settlement could leave you without compensation for serious medical expenses, substantial lost wages, and the pain and suffering you face after a crash.  If you faced serious injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, it is important to talk to a Columbia car accident attorney as early in the process as possible.

For help with your potential case, call the Columbia car accident lawyers at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers.  Our attorneys have experience handling car accident lawsuits on behalf of injury victims, and we fight to get them the compensation they need.  To schedule a free case consultation, call our attorneys today at (803) 451-4000.

Common Car Accident Injuries in Columbia, SC

Car accident victims in Columbia, SC sustain a broad range of injuries. Soft tissue damage and muscle strains are some of the most common injuries people suffer in vehicle crashes. For example, whiplash is a common injury that is difficult to diagnose and could result in months or even years of pain and discomfort. Other common injuries include broken bones, lacerations, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. 

You should be aware that many types of car accident injuries may not be apparent immediately, even to the person who suffers them. Potentially the most consequential of these are fractures to the ribs and spine. Broken ribs can cause punctures that lead to internal bleeding, which can put a victim’s life in jeopardy if not treated immediately. Damage to the spinal cord can be exacerbated by movement, so if a victim is not aware of their own condition, they could actively be making it worse just by moving around.

Our Columbia car accident lawyers will work closely with you and your healthcare providers to fully document the extent of your injuries. That process starts with you getting medical attention as soon as possible. If you ultimately require the attention of a specialist, we can locate a medical professional who can not only treat you, but also testify on your behalf in court about the cause and prognosis of your injury to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

How to Get Compensation for Car Accidents in Columbia, SC

If you are hurt in a car accident, you may be left with bills and expenses that you cannot afford – especially if the injuries keep you from work.  Insurance claims may be able to cover your injuries, but insurance companies may not be willing to pay you what you deserve.  In many cases, you should turn to a Columbia, SC car accident lawyer for help with your case.  An attorney can go over the facts of your case, investigate your injuries, determine how much you deserve in compensation, and fight to get you those payments.

Insurance Claims

Insurance claims in South Carolina are filed against the driver who caused the crash.  South Carolina is not a no-fault insurance state, which means that you need to prove who caused the crash before their insurance company will pay for damages.  Whether you sue or file an insurance claim, fault will be one of the most important issues in your case.

Filing a Lawsuit After a Car Accident Injury in SC

In many injury cases, our Columbia car accident lawyers will ultimately recommend filing a lawsuit alongside an insurance claim. While an insurance claim can pay a wide range of damages, your case is decided by the insurance company instead of a neutral party. When you go to court, it may open doors to compensation that the insurance company was previously refusing to pay. If the insurance company refuses to settle, going to court to seek judgment from a neutral judge and jury may be the only way to get damages paid.

Proving Fault

To prove fault in a Columbia car accident case, you will need to prove that the driver who hit you violated some legal duty they owed you and that that caused your injuries.  Drivers owe each other many legal duties, such as the duty to follow red lights and stop signs, the duty to avoid speeding, and the duty to cautiously look for cars before turning or changing lanes.  Whenever drivers violate a traffic law or a common safe-driving requirement, they can be said to have breached their duty.

If that breach caused the crash, you can get compensation for any damages you can prove were caused in the crash.  Sometimes, accidents happen even when everyone is being as safe as they can.  In these cases, it may be difficult to prove fault, and your lawyer may need to work with your insurance company to get damages paid.  However, any time when someone’s mistakes or errors cause the crash, you can provide testimony and other evidence to show how the crash was their fault.

Damages related to an accident can include more than just physical injuries.  Many car accident victims claim damages for pain and suffering – which can be the biggest part of your claim.  Damages for lost wages and future lost earning capacity can also be very important in your case.

How to Know if You Have a Valid Car Accident Injury Claim in Columbia, SC

The moments following a car crash are often confusing. Accident victims are focused on the health of their passengers, themselves, and the welfare of others involved in the accident. Piecing together what happened could be a difficult task. However, if you believe you did not cause the crash, someone else must have. 

South Carolina is an “at-fault” insurance state, meaning that the insurer of the driver who negligently, recklessly, or intentionally caused the accident will be responsible for compensating the victims. That is why figuring out who caused the accident is so important for your recovery.

Proving Negligence

Fault is attributed to the driver whose negligence caused the accident. Negligence is the failure of a particular party to meet the legal duties they owe to others. Drivers, for instance, owe legal duties to their fellow motorists with whom they share the road to follow traffic regulations and guidelines while behind the wheel. This means driving within speed limits, obeying traffic lights and stop signs, and keeping your eyes on the road instead of your phone. Failure in any of these regards may result in an accident, and in such a situation, the driver who failed to meet their duties would be liable for the consequences the resulting accident creates.

Proving Damages

These consequences are also a critical part of any car accident lawsuit. In order to succeed in any personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to show that they suffered harms from the accident, for which they could be compensated in court. This is one of many reasons it is so important that you seek medical attention to discover and treat injuries immediately after an accident.

If you suffered an injury, lost time at work, or otherwise incurred any expenses, you should speak with our experienced Columbia, SC car accident lawyers to determine if you have a legal case. Do not rely on the opinions of friends or family members – and certainly do not rely on what the insurance companies have to say. Instead, you should review your unique circumstances with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.

Columbia, SC Car Accident Statistics

According to all data available, South Carolina is one of the most dangerous states for drivers. The state consistently ranks in the top five worst in roadway safety according to Wall Street 24/7’s annual list.

According to the most recent edition of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s (SCDPS) Traffic Collision Fact Book, the Columbia Police Department investigates more injurious traffic accidents every year than any other municipal police department in the state. The only department that deals with more car accident injuries is the state’s Highway Patrol force, which operates throughout the state. 

Dangerous Roadways in Columbia, SC

It can also be helpful to note which roadways account for the largest number of accidents in South Carolina. According to data gathered by both state and federal agencies, one particular road seems to present the most danger: I-26.

I-26 spans from Spartanburg County to Charleston and runs directly through Columbia. Tens of thousands of South Carolinians use I-26 in their daily commute. Due to steep inclines, long gaps between guardrails, and inconvenient ditches along the route, it is no surprise that I-26 hosts the most accidents, most injuries from accidents, and the second-highest rate of fatality from accidents in South Carolina almost every year.

Who to Sue in a Columbia, SC Car Accident Case

Determining what parties to file your case against can be confusing.  Fortunately, our Columbia car accident attorneys can handle this for you.  We can investigate the case, determine if there are any parties other than the driver to sue, and file the proper claims.

Some drivers may wonder whether you sue the driver or their insurance company after an accident.  Typically, lawsuits for car accident injuries are filed against the driver directly, but their insurance company steps in to provide an attorney and cover the damages.  The specifics of how that works will be defined by the driver’s insurance policy.  Just remember that you sue the person who hit you in most cases.

Sometimes, there are additional parties aside from the driver who can be at fault.  If the driver who hit you was a truck driver, bus driver, taxi driver, or some other commercial driver, you could be entitled to sue their employer, too.  Trucking companies, bus companies, taxi companies, and other companies often hire strong legal teams to protect themselves from liability.  However, the law in South Carolina does allow injury victims to sue the defendant’s employer as long as the negligence occurred as part of their job (i.e., while driving for work).

Car accidents are occasionally caused by mistakes that neither driver made.  If the vehicle that caused the crash was part of a fleet, the vehicle’s owner may be responsible for negligent maintenance and upkeep.  This kind of claim can also be made against mechanics whose work later causes a crash.  Auto manufacturers can also be held liable for unreasonable equipment failure, auto defects, and other malfunctions that lead to crashes or make injuries worse.  Many lawsuits revolve around dangerous airbags, seat belts, ignition systems, and fuel systems.

Talk to an attorney to make sure all proper parties are included in your case before it is filed.  If cases need to be refiled later, they could run afoul of the statute of limitations.

Determining what parties to file your case against can be confusing.  Fortunately, our Columbia car accident attorneys can handle this for you.  We can investigate the case, determine if there are any parties other than the driver to sue, and file the proper claims.

Some drivers may wonder whether you sue the driver or their insurance company after an accident.  Typically, lawsuits for car accident injuries are filed against the driver directly, but their insurance company steps in to provide an attorney and cover the damages.  The specifics of how that works will be defined by the driver’s insurance policy.  Just remember that you sue the person who hit you in most cases.

Sometimes, there are additional parties aside from the driver who can be at fault.  If the driver who hit you was a truck driver, bus driver, taxi driver, or some other commercial driver, you could be entitled to sue their employer, too.  Trucking companies, bus companies, taxi companies, and other companies often hire strong legal teams to protect themselves from liability.  However, the law in South Carolina does allow injury victims to sue the defendant’s employer as long as the negligence occurred as part of their job (i.e., while driving for work).

Car accidents are occasionally caused by mistakes that neither driver made.  If the vehicle that caused the crash was part of a fleet, the vehicle’s owner may be responsible for negligent maintenance and upkeep.  This kind of claim can also be made against mechanics whose work later causes a crash.  Auto manufacturers can also be held liable for unreasonable equipment failure, auto defects, and other malfunctions that lead to crashes or make injuries worse.  Many lawsuits revolve around dangerous airbags, seat belts, ignition systems, and fuel systems.

Talk to an attorney to make sure all proper parties are included in your case before it is filed.  If cases need to be refiled later, they could run afoul of the statute of limitations.

Types of Compensation You Can Get After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC

Car accident victims in Columbia, SC are entitled to economic and non-economic damages if they have been injured in a crash due to another’s negligence. In some cases, a third type of damages based on the defendant’s reckless or intentionally harmful conduct may be available. Our Columbia car accident attorneys are your best resource for estimating your damages to determine what your case may be worth.

Economic Damages

Nearly every accident victim will incur some expenses due to the crash and their injuries. Common medical costs include the ambulance ride to the hospital, emergency room treatment, follow-up doctor’s appointments, medication, and physical therapy. The severity of your injury will impact your medical expenses. In addition to the obvious costs, you are entitled to be compensated for smaller outlays of cash, including parking fees, babysitting costs, and any other expenses related to the care and treatment of your injuries.

Another significant economic claim in a personal injury lawsuit is lost income. When an injury prevents you from working, you should be compensated for the money you lost. This includes money you would have earned in the future if your earning capacity or physical abilities have been seriously compromised because of your injuries.

Non-Economic Damages

Not every injury from an accident is physical. Survivors of car accidents often experience mental and emotional trauma due to the accident and their injuries. For example, an accident victim could be permanently disfigured after a crash. Another person could be crippled by overwhelming fear when getting behind the wheel. Still, another individual might not be able to care for their young children because they have been disabled in an accident. Victims are entitled to financial compensation for these, and other, types of subjective harm. Our Columbia car accident lawyers understand the challenges involved in placing a monetary value on non-economic damages.

Whether you realize it or not, your injury case begins the moment your crash occurs. The steps you take could significantly impact your ability to obtain the compensation you deserve. Below, we discuss some steps an accident victim should take in the moments immediately following a crash.

Punitive Damages

A third type of damages is available to some personal injury victims if the court determines that the defendant’s behavior warrants additional punishment. These damages, called punitive damages, are only awarded at the court’s discretion, so they are not available in every car accident injury case. However, when a Columbia court does award punitive damages, they are often substantial, so it is important to identify this possibility where it exists. Common instances where a court might determine that punitive damages are warranted include accidents caused by illegal drag racing or drunk driving, or situations where car manufacturers knowingly sold products with dangerous defects.

What Should I Do Immediately Following a Car Accident in Columbia, SC?

Whether you realize it or not, your injury case begins the moment your crash occurs. The steps you take could significantly impact your ability to obtain the compensation you deserve. Below, we discuss some steps an accident victim should take in the moments immediately following a crash. The emotional and chaotic nature of the aftermath of a car accident can leave people unsure of how to act. That is why our Columbia car accident attorneys have provided this helpful list of tips that will help protect both your physical and financial well-being.

Ensure that Everyone is Safe

Any collision, particularly one that occurs on a popular roadway, has the potential to become worse when other vehicles get involved. If you are able to move your vehicle, try to find the nearest shoulder or side street. Whether you can move the vehicle or not, always use hazard lights or flares to indicate the accident to other motorists, particularly in low visibility conditions or at night.

Call 911

You should call local emergency services whenever the accident involved property damage or if someone was injured. Even if you believe everything is fine, our office advises calling 911. The police will not only document the accident, but they will also secure the crash site and ensure medical personnel are dispatched to the scene. A police report is also a valuable tool in building an injury case. Law enforcement officers at the scene can also prevent the other party from leaving the crash before sharing identification and insurance information, which constitutes the crime of Hit and Run under South Carolina law.

Gather Evidence

This might seem obvious, but some of the best available evidence is only available for a short time following an accident. The position of the vehicles and the state of the roadway could provide vital clues to an accident reconstructionist. If you are physically capable, you should document the crash scene. Take pictures of everything, including the vehicles, damage, skid marks, and your injuries.

You should also talk to anyone who might have seen the accident occur. Get their names and contact information. Our Columbia, SC car accident lawyers will want to talk to any witnesses while the event is fresh in their minds. You should also write down everything you can remember regarding the crash. If you wait, your recollections could fade.

Talk to Eyewitnesses

You should also talk to anyone who might have seen the accident occur. Get their names and contact information. Our Columbia, SC car accident lawyers will want to talk to any witnesses while the event is fresh in their minds. Eyewitness testimony is the hardest type of evidence to obtain after you leave the scene of the accident, so do not delay in collecting this info.

You are also an eyewitness to what happened. You should write down everything you can remember regarding the crash. If you wait, your recollection could fade.

Get Medical Treatment

Our Columbia car accident lawyers cannot stress this enough. If you have been in a car accident, seek medical treatment. Some people will not have a choice if their injuries are severe. However, even if you believe you only suffered minor bruises or cuts, you should see a doctor within a day or two following the crash. It is not uncommon for an accident victim to be more seriously hurt than they originally thought. Additionally, you want to have medical documentation and evidence linking any injury you sustained to the accident. A delay will open up a door for defense attorneys and claims adjusters to argue your injuries were not related to the crash.

Get a Lawyer

When you are on the scene of the accident or getting your injuries tended to immediately after, you should not worry about talking to a lawyer. These issues require your immediate attention, and nothing should take priority over your immediate medical care. However, after you have received treatment and are out of immediate danger, you can benefit from the help of a seasoned Columbia car accident lawyer.

The Statute of Limitations on a Columbia, SC Car Accident

When you file any injury case in South Carolina, there is a statute of limitations that you must follow. This law limits how long you have to file your case, essentially setting a filing deadline.

All car accident injury cases in South Carolina need to be filed within three years of the accident. This rule comes under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530.

If a case is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, it is often assumed that the injuries were “not that serious.” For this reason alone, it is vital to speak with our Columbia car accident lawyers as soon as you can after a car accident. In most cases, you should never wait the full three years before contacting an attorney and filing your claim.

Exceptions to the South Carolina Statute of Limitations

S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-40 creates some exceptions to the statute of limitations that allow additional time to file cases for certain people. Under this rule, the statute of limitations is “tolled” during certain periods of legal “disability.” This means that the clock is paused and the time does not count against the three-year limitations period until the disability is resolved.

One common “disability” is being a minor. Minors are not expected to understand personal injury law, and that gives them until they are 18 years old before the three-year clock starts running on their car accident injury case. However, parents can file a case sooner, allowing our Columbia car accident lawyers to help their children get compensation for a car accident before they turn 18.

“Insanity” is the other common disability. This includes any mental handicaps that prevent you from appreciating the case and your rights.

There may also be tolling considerations if the defendant fled the state. Talk to our Columbia car accident lawyers about any potential rules that might extend your filing deadline.

What Happens If You File Too Late?

It is vital that you file your car accident case within the three-year limitations period or else you might lose your right to file entirely. If a case is filed too late, the court can automatically dismiss the claim. The defendant can also use the statute of limitations to ask the court to bar the case if the court does not do so on its own.

Limits to Recovering Compensation After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC

There are a few limitations to consider that could make it harder to get the full compensation you are entitled to after an accident case. Our Columbia car accident lawyers can help with these issues and fight to maximize compensation in light of any of these potential issues.

Degree of Fault

It might be harder to recover compensation for your accident case if you shared some degree of fault in causing the accident. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-38-15, each party is essentially only liable for paying their own share of the damages. If you are found to be 50% at fault or less for causing your own accident, then the damages you get in court will not include the damages for your share of the accident. This ultimately reduces how much compensation you get to account for your contributions.

If you are more than 50% at fault, you will be barred from recovery entirely.

Always work with a Columbia car accident lawyer to help prevent this kind of victim blaming and for help redirecting blame to the other drivers who caused your crash.

Time Since the Accident Occurred

The statute of limitations, discussed above, is a hard limit on your ability to recover compensation too long after an accident. If you try to file a car accident claim or lawsuit more than three years after the accident happened, the courts can shut down the claim immediately. However, filing a claim after a long time has elapsed can have other complications, even if you are still within the statute of limitations period.

Evidence might lose its value over time, making it harder to prove your case. Paper records can be lost or damaged, video evidence may be deleted or overwritten, and wounds will heal. Preserving records, documents, and photos properly is important, and your lawyer can help you do this if you contact them early on in your case.

People also might forget what happened. This means that your own testimony, as well as the testimony of any witnesses, might be weak evidence after a year or two has elapsed since the crash. Having your Columbia car accident lawyers put witnesses on record and allowing them to take depositions early in a case can help prevent these issues from affecting your claim.

What Kind of Medical Treatment Should I Seek After an Accident?

After being involved in a car accident, you should typically follow the EMT’s recommendations as to what medical attention you need. If they want to take you to the hospital, you should go with them. You should always call 911 after an accident, so there will typically be some sort of EMTs or other first responders who can provide first aid and further recommendations.

If you go to the hospital and undergo surgeries or other emergency procedures, the doctors might recommend additional courses of care. This could include appointments with specialists (e.g., orthopedists for bone injuries or neurologists for potential brain injuries). You should also follow these recommendations and get all of the treatment you need.

If you are told that you do not need immediate treatment, you might want to consider scheduling a follow-up with your usual doctor. If additional injuries appear in the days after an accident, you should see your doctor, go to urgent care, or visit the hospital. You should then get all recommended medical treatment and speak with our Columbia car accident lawyers about including those injuries as part of your injury claim.

Why Choose Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers to Handle Your Car Accident Case?

One of the most important steps you can take after an accident is contacting a skilled personal injury lawyer. Our attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers have years of experience handling complicated car accident cases.

Many people are under the impression that they will receive a reasonable settlement from an insurance company and that they do not need a lawyer unless they are planning to file a lawsuit. This could not be further from the truth. A seasoned claims adjuster will not offer you a fair settlement offer if you are unrepresented. Our Columbia car accident lawyers will prepare your case as if we were going to court so that the insurer understands that we will not settle for an unreasonable amount. Our team of attorneys and staff will investigate your claim and evaluate the full value of your damages.

Our Columbia Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

If you were hurt in a car accident or a loved one was killed or injured in a crash, contact us today at (803) 451-4000. Our Columbia car accident injury attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers dedicate our practice to helping injured victims get the compensation they deserve. Call us to schedule a free initial case consultation.

Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Car Accident Lawyers.

Our Caring Attorneys in Columbia, SC are here to help.

Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Car Accident Lawyers.

Our Caring Attorneys in Columbia, SC are here to help.