Are you planning to seek compensation for your car accident in Greenville, SC? Perhaps you have not decided whether to take matters into your own hands or work with a Greenville car accident lawyer. If you incurred severe injuries, you may want to wait until you recover completely, to know all your losses.
Many accident victims share your concerns and, generally, it is not a good idea to rush things. However, you should not wait too long either, as you could end up losing your right to compensation.
On one hand, car accident claims, as most personal injury actions are subject to a strict deadline called statute of limitations. On the other hand, filing a car accident claim takes time, evidence, and following lengthy procedures.
When to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Greenville, SC, to Comply with the Statute of Limitations
The South Carolina statute of limitations allows three years for filing a civil lawsuit for injuries and property damage. This deadline, obviously, refers to car accidents as well. It usually starts running on the date of the accident.
In rare cases, an experienced South Carolina auto accident attorney may be able to toll or postpone the statute of limitations. There are several grounds from doing it:
- Late discovery – the victim discovers the injuries only later and the deadline starts running at the discovery date.
- Underage victim – the countdown begins when the accident victim turns 18.
- Disabled victim – Sometimes, the victim is physically or mentally disabled to a degree where they cannot defend their own rights. In such cases, the three-year period begins upon their recovery.
Keep in mind, though, that these special circumstances will need to be proven. Generally, you should get in touch with a Greenville car accident attorney with at least a couple of months before the three-year deadline.
However, the first step in car accident cases is to file an insurance claim. You want to do that even sooner. This way, if your claim is denied, you can still seek compensation in court. From this point of view, you should contact a Greenville car accident lawyer at least six months prior to deadline expiration.
But is waiting that long good for your case? Most Greenville car accident attorneys will disagree, and for all the right reasons. A brief look at the South Carolina claim procedures should help you see why.
The Insurance Claim Process or Why Greenville Car Accident Attorneys Prefer to Be Contacted as Soon as Possible
1. Identifying the Defendant and Determining Claim Value
The first step to filing an insurance claim is determining the defendant and the value of the claim. The defendant is usually the driver responsible for the accident. Since South Carolina law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, through insurance, the responsibility is transferred to the insurer.
As for calculating the claim value, it too takes time. Several types of damages can be recovered through a car accident claim, with the following being the most common:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
- Physical and/or mental suffering
It is easy to see that some of these damages can be calculated by summing up the applicable bills and invoices. For others, in-depth reviews of medical reports, discussions with witnesses and experts, and analysis or similar cases are required.
2. Filing the Notification of Claim
This is basically a letter warning the defendant that you are taking action against them. It should summarize your case details, your losses, and your demands. Therefore, when you file it, you should already know your claim value and have an idea of how you can prove it. Under South Carolina law, the claimant is responsible for proving both the defendant’s liability and their losses.
3. Claim Substantiation
This step involves gathering, organizing, and presenting all your evidence. The more convincing and eloquent the evidence is, the sooner the defendant will accept your claim. Be careful, though, as in car accident cases, the most valuable evidence is available at the scene. If you haven’t gathered it, you should consult a car accident lawyer immediately, to help with the evidence gathering process.
Assuming you follow the above procedures properly, the insurer will send you a settlement offer. You should discuss it with your lawyer and try to negotiate better terms. If the offer does not do your case justice, your attorney may recommend appealing it.
As you can see, some of the steps involved by the insurance claim take time and depend on previous actions (gathering evidence). To improve your chances of obtaining fair compensation, you should seek legal help as soon as possible after your accident.
Get Help with Your Case from an Experienced Greenville Car Accident Lawyer Now!
At Hernandez & Cabra, we have handled hundreds of car accident cases. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call our office at 864-310-7897 or fill in the contact form and schedule a consultation with our Greenville car accident lawyer now!