Litigation is filled with complex filings and motions. Because of this and if you have elected to pursue a civil claim, you need to consider retaining the services of an experienced attorney who could begin filing a car accident claim in Charleston. South Carolina adheres to strict timelines for personal injury claims, so the sooner you connect with an attorney, the sooner you could begin the steps toward recovery.
How to File a Claim in South Carolina
To file a claim in Charleston or anywhere in South Carolina, the law requires the plaintiff to put the insurance company on notice of any possible claim they may be filing by sending a Letter of Representation. Then the victim submits their demand for damages to be reimbursed and hopefully be able to settle the case that way. In the event they are not able to resolve the claim that way, they may consider doing something called pre-suit mediation. Mediation is a type of meeting where everyone (the plaintiff, defendant, and respective attorneys) get together and focus on the facts of the case, and with the help of a mediator, they hopefully come to an agreement for settlement.
In the event the case does not settle, either through negotiations (the plaintiff’s attorney and the insurance company), then the next step would be to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit requires that the injured party (the plaintiff) files a Summons and Complaint (usually requesting a trial by jury) with the court against the defendant (the wrongdoer). Those documents are then served upon the proper parties which the plaintiff’s attorney establishes. Once the defendants are served, discovery begins. At all times through the discovery process up until the day of trial, the parties are negotiating a settlement. Most cases are settled on the first day or trial.
The Process for Filing a Car Accident Claim in Charleston
An insurance claim could be filed over the phone by simply calling the insurance company. An individual may also file a claim by writing a letter to their insurance company. However, unless there is a simple loss which does not require a major investigation and delivers a quick settlement, an attorney’s expertise would be required to develop the evidence and present a settlement package to the insurance company. In the event that negotiations fall apart, the attorney will then file a Complaint and Summons with the court clerk, either in federal district court or in civil circuit court.
Once the defendant is served with Summons and Complaint, they have to file an Answer to the Complaint with the court. The next step is discovery in which both the plaintiff and defendant ask questions of each other, take depositions of the various witnesses and experts, send interrogatories (written questions requiring written responses), send requests for production of documents, and other evidence in order to get all materials that are relevant to the case.
Once these discovery materials are gathered and processed, the parties make their final determination as to the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases, both a liability standpoint (who is at fault) and from a damages standpoint (how much money is going to be paid by the at-fault party to reimburse the injured party).
Lawsuit Worthy Losses in a Car Accident Claim
Tort is just a fancy way of saying “civil wrong”, somebody has done something they should not have done, and that action of wrongdoing harms them, or their failure to do something they should have done causes harm to them. A classic example would be a person running a stop sign or failing to inspect their brakes and the brakes gave out, hitting another driver and causing damage to the vehicle and injuries to the people in the car.
The at-fault driver owes the injured person a duty, and if they breach that duty by doing something they should not have done, or failed to do something they should have done, then that is what they have to prove in any lawsuit. In South Carolina the injured person is entitled to be reimbursed for their damages.
An at-fault driver is only responsible for injuries caused by the accident. In the event that the driver or passenger of the damaged vehicle was suffering with a disease or illness at the time of the accident, the at-fault driver would only be responsible for any injuries from the accident, unless they aggravated the pre-existing condition.
What to Do before Filing an Action
All individuals anticipating the filing of a lawsuit should participate in pre-suit litigation. This is the investigatory process wherein the plaintiff’s attorney interviews witnesses that are available, gathers evidence (which may include cell phone pictures and security tapes).
Some records cannot be obtained without a subpoena, so an attorney would be necessary to obtain those. There are certain documents that can only be obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, and allow people to get information from a government entity. All this information should be obtained and a determination made by the plaintiff attorney whether or not it merits a claim or possibly a lawsuit.
South Carolina Statute of Limitations for Car Wrecks
Every state has a statute of limitations pertaining to personal injury matters. The statute of limitations for a personal injury matter (car accident, wrongful death, dog bites, and more) is a deadline in a case that begins to run usually from the date the accident or injury occurred moving forward, with some exceptions. There is a time limit in which the injured party needs to file a claim or lawsuit, and if they do not file the claim or lawsuit within that time period, then their case is likely to be barred forever.
Connect with an Attorney Today
Because car accidents take a toll on victims, you may feel confused as to what you could do to recover from yours. Thankfully, the law allows for legal steps to be taken to hold negligent driver’s accountable after their irresponsible actions cause you harm. Filing a car accident claim in Charleston could be made easier with the help of an experienced attorney. Do not let time run out on your case, reach out to a lawyer today.