There were 1,036 fatalities and 58,053 people injured in traffic collisions in 2018, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. If you are involved in an auto accident, you need to know the steps to take to protect your rights.
1. Report the Accident
South Carolina law requires you to report any accident that involves bodily injury, death, or property damage in excess of $1,000.
The other driver might try to convince you not to report the accident. They may even promise to cover your damages. However, your vehicle may have sustained serious damage that you won't know about until days or weeks later. Also, you could have suffered a serious injury that can result in exorbitant medical bills.
Because you do not know the full extent of your damages, you should report the accident to the local law enforcement agency. Taking this step will help show that there was an accident. A law enforcement officer can also conduct a preliminary investigation to determine who was at fault for the accident.
2. Exchange Information
You will need to secure certain information in order to make an accident report. Request the following information from the other driver:
- Their name, address, and phone number
- The make, color, model, and VIN of their vehicle
- Their insurance company's name and phone number and their policy number
- Their driver's license number
- Their license plate number
Be prepared to provide this information to the other driver, too.
If anybody else witnessed the accident, ask for their names and contact information.
3. Document the Accident Scene
One of the most important steps you can take to protect your rights after a car accident is to document the accident scene. It will be cleaned up shortly after the accident, along with any evidence that may have helped you prove how the accident happened.
Gather information about the accident scene, such as the cross streets where the accident occurred. Take note of any nearby cameras, such as security cameras or traffic cameras.
Take pictures of the following:
- An overview of the accident scene
- Skid marks, broken car parts, or other signs of the accident on the road
- The damage to each vehicle
- Your injuries
- Road and weather conditions
4. Seek Medical Attention
If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. If your injuries are serious, request an ambulance when you report your accident.
Sometimes, injuries may not appear immediately at the time of the accident. However, you may start to experience symptoms in the days or weeks following the accident. Seek medical attention for these injuries, even if you think they are only minor. Prompt medical attention can provide the link between the accident and your injuries.
5. Be Careful What You Say
From the moment that you are involved in an auto accident, there are potential legal implications. Avoid saying sorry for the accident or admitting any fault. Even if you think you might be partially to blame, you might not know about all the factors that contributed to the accident, such as the other driver texting or drinking.
The other party's insurance company may reach out to you to request a recorded statement, but you do not have to agree to this. Also, monitor what you post on social media since investigators may be checking your communications during this time.
6. Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
You have only three years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, so it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can take necessary legal action to protect your rights. Contact Palmetto Injury Lawyers LLC to schedule your free and confidential consultation.