Am I Entitled to Compensation After a Car Accident?

Written by John D. Hawkins on . Posted in .

When you sustain serious injuries in a car accident in South Carolina that is not your fault, state law allows you to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. At HawkLaw, we understand that you want to know how much compensation you might receive after a car accident. This blog explores the factors that play into the typical settlement offer from an at-fault driver’s insurance company.

How Much Compensation Do You Get for a Car Accident, and What Factors Impact That Amount?

The insurance company for the at-fault driver considers multiple factors before reaching an agreement with your car accident lawyer. Most of these factors fall into the category of economic damages, a term that refers to the actual financial losses associated with your car accident injuries.

Your car accident attorney and the other driver’s insurance adjuster also consider the pain and suffering you endured due to the actions of the other motorist. Because pain and suffering are subjective, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to argue for maximum value in this category of car accident compensation.

The Extent of Accident Injuries

Your degree of bodily injury plays a significant role in how much you can expect in a settlement offer. When determining your car accident compensation, the insurance adjuster considers how much your serious injuries affect your ongoing quality of life. For example, dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury could affect you for the rest of your life even when others cannot detect that you have suffered a serious injury. However, the burden of proof lies on you and your car accident lawyer to demonstrate the extent of your accident injuries.

Lost Wages

You are eligible to receive payment for lost wages if you had to take any time away from work to recover from the auto accident. This is true even if you received compensation through sick leave since you would not have had to use that benefit if not for the actions of the at-fault driver.

The term lost wages goes beyond the salary you missed out on due to the car crash. You could also receive car accident compensation for lost benefits and missed promotion opportunities. In addition, if you had to accept a part-time or less demanding position upon returning to work, your car accident settlement should reflect that. Insurance companies consider your age and how many working years you likely had left at your current wage when determining this category of compensation.

Medical Bills and Expenses

Any out-of-pocket cost you incurred to cover medical bills is eligible for reimbursement with your car accident claim. Typical examples include:

  • Hospital charges
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate your serious injuries
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Physician charges

Property Damage

This category of car accident compensation covers the amount it costs to repair or replace your vehicle. You can also receive property damage compensation for items you were transporting in your vehicle that you had to repair or replace, such as a laptop computer or smartphone.

Pain and Suffering

While each of the above represents examples of economic damage, pain and suffering are subjective and typically in a category of their own. You need a highly skilled and experienced car accident attorney to argue for maximum pain and suffering compensation on your behalf. You count on the insurance company or legal counsel for the other motorist to challenge pain and suffering compensation since no one can assign a specific dollar amount to it.

What is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?

Although it may be frustrating to hear, it is usually not possible to determine car accident compensation without knowing the other party’s insurance coverage or the extent of your serious injuries.

How Do Policy Limits Affect a Settlement?

Yes, the maximum you can collect on an out-of-court car accident claim depends on the pre-existing cap on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Your personal injury lawyer has the skills needed to advance your car accident case through the court if insurance policy limits are inadequate to meet your needs if the insurance company’s settlement offer is too low.

Does the Extent of Personal Injury Affect a Settlement?

The type of injuries a car crash victim sustains and the severity of the injuries are typically the biggest determining factor in a car accident settlement value. The insurance adjuster for the at-fault party will first classify your serious injuries as hard or soft tissue. 

Is the Car Accident Settlement from the Car Insurance Company Fair?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often no. Since insurance companies are in business to make money, the adjuster representing the other motorist may offer you a quick settlement that does not provide nearly enough to cover your accident-related expenses.

Our injury lawyers will review your settlement offer and let you know if it seems fair or not. If the settlement offer seems too low, we will attempt further negotiations with the insurance company agent representing the other party. A court trial is a next step when neither side can agree on an acceptable amount to settle the claim.

What Information Do I Need to Calculate Car Insurance Compensation?

Your personal injury attorney will ask you to locate and submit several sources of evidence that will prove your claim and help you receive a fair amount of car accident compensation.

Medical Bill Records

Be sure to save all medical bills you receive for treatment, even if your own insurance company pays them. You should also track the amount of money you spend on transportation to medical appointments, such as fuel, parking, or taking public transportation.

Employment Record for Lost Wages

The insurance adjuster will need to know how much money you usually earn to figure out the lost wages portion of your car accident settlement. If you did not save the last several pay stubs, you should be able to print them out from an employee portal or ask your immediate supervisor to help you track them down.

Police Report

Be sure to call 911 from the scene of the accident, even if you do not think your car crash injuries are serious. The local police department will send an officer to interview both drivers and witnesses and compile a report. You will need to obtain a copy of the police report to make an initial insurance claim and use it as evidence should you decide to pursue a personal injury report later.

Vehicle Repair Bills

You will need copies of all invoices for motor vehicle repair if you plan to request payment for property damage. Be sure to keep repair bills for any other personal property damaged or destroyed in the car accident. If the item is non-repairable, ask your insurance company to provide you with the replacement cost.

Are Online Car Accident Settlement Calculators Accurate?

Online car accident settlement calculators can only provide a rough estimate of how much compensation you might receive in a settlement offer. This is because claimants often do not have enough information available, such as their final medical expenses and the value of their vehicle. 

Can I Get Compensation for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?

South Carolina allows people who sustained serious injuries in a car accident to demand compensation from the other party if that person bears majority responsibility for causing the crash.

Who is the At-Fault Driver?

Although you may feel confident that the other party caused the motor vehicle accident, state law requires you to prove it before proceeding with a personal injury lawsuit. Our law firm uses a proven legal process to uncover the necessary evidence to prove your claim. Here are just a few examples of evidence we will present to the insurance adjuster or jury in your car accident case:

  • Police report
  • Photos and video from the scene of the accident
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Report from an accident reconstruction specialist if needed
  • Medical reports to prove the extent of your injuries

South Carolina is a Fault-Based State Using Modified Comparative Negligence

Before you can receive compensation in a personal injury case, your car accident attorney must be able to prove that the other motorist is at least 51 percent responsible for causing your serious injuries. You would not be able to receive any compensation if your percentage of fault is higher than that.

Settling a personal injury case out of court is always the preferred option. However, you should be prepared for the possibility of negotiations breaking down between your car accident attorney and the auto insurance company adjuster representing the other driver. Should this occur, your car accident attorney from Hawk Law Firm will represent you in court.

Is There a Statute of Limitations to File a Claim After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

The statute of limitations may apply to your case, but since this may vary based on the circumstances of your case, you should talk to your attorney to find out if you have a valid claim.

No matter how long it has been since you were involved in a crash, you should talk to an attorney to find out if you can make a claim. Act quickly, but if you have waited, still look into your legal options

Talk to a Car Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible

Since building a case against the other motorist can take several months, our law firm recommends initiating your claim as soon as possible to avoid any limitations. The statute of limitations is clear that you will not be able to pursue a claim for medical payments, lost wages, and other financial losses after that time, regardless of the extent of your serious injuries.

Your top priority at the time of the accident should be seeking medical care, obtaining a police report, and exchanging contact information with the other driver. The scene of the accident is not the time to argue about who is at fault for causing the car crash in the first place. That is the job of your personal injury attorney at a later time. However, you can contact our law firm from the hospital or as soon as you get home if you feel up to it.

Call for a Free Consultation* with a South Carolina Accident Lawyer

HawkLaw Firm fights to win every case for every client. We invite you to learn more about the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit by contacting us at 1-888-HAWK-LAW (429-5529). You may also use our 24-hour chat options to receive answers to frequently asked questions. Our dedicated team of car accident lawyers is available now to help you learn more about your right to fair compensation for your serious injuries.

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Written By John D. Hawkins


John David Hawkins is the Founder and Owner of HawkLaw. He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Focusing on litigation, Mr. Hawkins is experienced handling Worker’s Compensation, Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, Administrative Law, and Criminal Law matters.

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    *Disclaimer: Cases are principally handled out of Greenville, Spartanburg, Charleston, and Columbia offices. Case "worth" is determined from the total settlement amount. The settlement amount shown are gross numbers before attorney’s fees and cost deductions. The % fees will be computed before deducting expenses and costs from the gross settlement. No fees or costs with no recovery. The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The specific results achieved for clients shared on this website do not imply that similar results may be achieved for other clients. READ FULL DISCLAIMER