Sometimes, it makes sense to handle your personal injury claim on your own. A non-injury fender-bender may not require legal assistance.
The more serious your accident was, however, the more likely you are to need a lawyer. Certain case complications can make hiring a personal injury lawyer essential.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you in a multitude of different ways.
A personal injury lawyer can help you by:
- Investigating your claim: Most personal injury lawyers are experienced investigators or hire professional investigators to work for their firm.
- Gathering admissible evidence: The South Carolina Evidence Code bars many types of evidence from court. Your lawyer should know the evidence code backward and forward.
- Preventing you from making errors that could damage your claim. Never agree to a recorded statement with an insurance company. You should also avoid talking about your case on social media.
- Providing you with a ballpark estimate of the value of your claim: The best way to lose when you think you’ve won is to accept a settlement for less than the true value of your claim. If you know how much your claim is really worth, you can avoid accepting a low settlement.
- Working with expert witnesses: The use of expert witnesses is routine for medical malpractice and product liability claims, among others). An experienced personal injury lawyer should have cultivated professional relationships with the best expert witnesses.
- Negotiate with the opposing party: In most cases, the opposing party will be an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters are professional negotiators, but so are experienced personal injury lawyers.
Represent you at trial: Most clams don’t go to trial. If yours does, however, you’ll definitely need a lawyer.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you throughout the process of pursuing the compensation you need after an accident.
Anything involving new facts that complicate your claim or significantly increase its value could mean you need legal assistance.
You Suffer from Diminished Earning Capacity
If your injuries are serious or long-term, you will probably suffer a certain amount of diminished earning capacity. You might need to change professions, and you might even have to retire early because of your injuries.
You will need to estimate your future lost earnings by the time you file your claim. In a worst-case scenario, you could drastically underestimate your lost earnings and run out of money years later. If this occurs, it will be too late to ask for more compensation. To avoid this fate, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The Other Party Is Blaming You for the Accident
When the negligence of more than one party contributes to an accident, South Carolina applies a legal principle known as modified comparative fault. At trial, a court will assign each party a percentage of fault. Any party 50% or more at fault will lose the ability to recover damages. Any party that is less than 50% at fault will lose a percentage of their damages that corresponds to their percentage of fault.
Most claims never make it to trial. The parties typically will have to negotiate the amount of damages based on how much they believe a court would award. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you negotiate for a fair settlement.
The At-Fault Party Is Uninsured or Underinsured
For car accidents, South Carolina is an “at-fault” auto insurance state. That means that if you suffer an injury in a car accident, you can immediately file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
About one in eight South Carolina drivers carries no auto insurance despite the legal requirement to do so.
Even those who do carry insurance often carry only the minimum, including:
- $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability insurance
- $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance
- $25,000 per accident in property damage liability
If the at-fault driver only carries the legal minimum insurance, there might not be enough coverage. Carrying uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance can help you if the other party’s coverage is insufficient. This type of insurance is optional. If you don’t carry it, you might need to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Someone Died in the Accident
A personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim when the victim dies of their injuries. Wrongful death claims are never minor. The amount of compensation available takes into account the value of a human life. You should hire a lawyer to help your family navigate the wrongful death process.
The At-Fault Driver Was Intoxicated
Because of different burdens of proof, you can sue an intoxicated driver for a car accident even if a criminal court acquitted them of DUI. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you hold all at-fault parties accountable.
Your Claim Is Scientifically Complex
To win a scientifically complex claim, such as a medical malpractice claim, you will probably need both an experienced personal injury lawyer and an expert witness. It can be challenging need to handle these claims on your own.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a personal injury lawyer will cost you nothing upfront. All legal fees come out of your eventual recovery. Your legal fees will be zero unless your lawyer wins your claim for you, either in court or at the bargaining table. Initial case consultations are free as well. Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys is here to help. Contact our law firm by calling (803) 324-7574 to schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney.