If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident in South Carolina for the first time, you may not know how to best proceed to protect your interests. While the health and safety of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident is paramount, there are additional steps to take to ensure that your auto accident claim is preserved should you choose to make a claim for damages and injuries incurred.
Immediately Following the Accident
In the immediate aftermath of the car accident, make sure that all persons involved are okay. Should emergency medical services be needed for anyone involved in the accident, do not hesitate to call 911 to request an ambulance. You should report your accident to the law enforcement, unless there is only minimal damage to vehicles or property and no injuries result from the accident. In South Carolina, if police are not involved but the collision caused damages exceeding $1,000 or resulted in injury or death, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles requires all drivers to submit a completed Traffic Collision Report, Form FR-309, which can be found here. Failure to report an accident can result in the DMV assuming your vehicle was uninsured and subject you to legal penalties.
Exchange Information and Take Pictures
If you have been involved in a car accident, be sure to exchange information with all parties involved, including but not limited to, insurance information, names and contact information of drivers, passengers and witnesses, and vehicle information. This information is vital to properly identifying parties to which may be liable for your injuries, as well as witnesses who may corroborate your story by detailing the events surrounding the accident. Additionally, it is helpful to take pictures of the accident, including the damage to both vehicles and where in relation to the road the accident occurred.
Notify Your Auto Insurance Company
You should notify your insurance company that you have been involved in a car accident so that they may take the necessary steps to generate a claim on your behalf against the at-fault driver and his or her auto insurance. If your insurance policy covers rental vehicles, your insurance company will assist you in obtaining a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. For further information, please consult your auto insurance representative to discuss the details of what your insurance policy provides you in the event of a car accident.
Seek Further Medical Treatment if Necessary
Car accidents oftentimes cause injuries that are readily apparent, such as broken bones and lacerations, which should be treated as soon as possible by appropriate physicians. Additionally, car accidents can also cause injuries that cannot be easily seen, such as whiplash, spinal injuries, strained muscles, deep tissue bruising and more. These types of injuries may not show up until two or three days following the accident. Should symptoms of soreness and pain arise in the days following the car accident, you should seek immediate medical attention as they are likely to be related to the car accident, and thus you may be entitled to recover monetarily for the injuries from which you suffer.
The aforementioned steps are by no means meant to be an exhaustive list to take following a car accident; however, they should be highly considered to ensure that your auto accident claim is properly adjudicated to fully protect your rights as an injured party to an auto accident. Should you have any hesitancy or confusion regarding the auto claims process and what your rights are as an individual, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, like those at Hughey Law Firm, who have handled hundreds of auto accident claims for their clients.