I was in an auto accident recently. The other lady driver ran a stop sign, I locked up my brakes then wham, I hit her car. I don’t know if I was knocked out or what, but next thing I remember was all these people around telling me not to move. The seat belt was still fastened and both air bags deployed. The rest is still fuzzy.
Should I speak with attorney before talking settlement with insurance about my legal rights? I’ve heard many horror stories concerning insurance companies. What are some things I should look out for? What do I need to have a strong claim and get a good settlement? Thank you for any information you can give, as I have no idea where to start.
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
Start by obtaining a copy of the police accident report (this presumes the police were dispatched to the accident). From the facts you present, it is a fair presumption they were. The report will contain information you can rely on to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The accident report will also likely contain a diagram of the accident, a notation about one or more traffic citations issued to the at-fault driver (likely for failing to stop at a stop sign, and other violations), the witnesses’ names and contact information, and other relevant information. It is likely the at-fault driver’s insurance company already has a copy of the report.
However, while the accident seems to have been severe, you don’t mention any treated injuries. Unless you sustained injuries resulting in medical bills, out of pocket expenses (for medications, bandages, etc.), and/or lost wages, your only claim will be for property damage to your car and personal property, such as your computer, cell phone, jewelry, etc.
To obtain a copy of the accident report, complete South Carolina Form FR-50.
Once you have downloaded and completed form FR-50, send it along with $6.00 to:
SCDMV Office of Financial Responsibility PO Box 1498 Blythewood, SC 29016
In the alternative, if your injuries were serious and you were transported to the emergency room or clinic for treatment, you will need to contact a personal injury attorney. Serious injury claims should never be handled without an experienced injury attorney. There is just too much to lose.
Without an attorney you won’t be able to take the depositions of the other driver or witnesses, discover policy limits, prior accidents, and more. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial office consultations.
Collect your medical bills and other evidence of costs, and bring them along to the consultation. After reviewing the information and speaking with you, an attorney will be able to tell you if your claim is viable, and the probability of success.
Learn more here: How Much Are Your Injuries Worth?
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
Best of luck with your claim,
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