Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer
When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.
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Can you sue a business if you get hurt in an accident caused by a company driver or an employee driving his employer’s car or truck?
Yes, if the at-fault driver was driving for work. It’s based on the ancient legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,” which holds employers liable, or legally responsible, for the acts of employees. The reason behind it is, if an employee hurts someone on the job, the employer is more likely to be financially capable of bearing the responsibility to pay a settlement.
Today, car, motorcycle, and tractor-trailer accident settlements come from insurance. But the truth of respondeat superior remains: businesses with company vehicles often have enormous amounts of insurance to pay settlements.
However, they aren’t going to give it away—even if you were badly hurt. (Keep reading to find out why!) You also need to look out for whether the employer is actually directly responsible for your injuries.
The Employer May Be Directly Responsible for Your Injuries
If you’re seriously hurt by a company car, semi-truck, delivery van, or any other company vehicle, you need every avenue of potential fault explored. And your case may allow you to hold the employer directly liable for carelessness in managing its employees or equipment.
We see this a lot in our trucking cases. Trucking companies can be legally responsible for tractor-trailer accidents caused by violations of federal safety regulations, like allowing or forcing truckers to drive excessively long hours or failing to require proper pre-trip inspections. Proving violations caused the crash can be vital to your case, as it can lead to punitive damages.
But any employer can be held liable for careless training or supervision of employees who drive. That includes giving a company vehicle to an incompetent or dangerous driver.
Warning: If You’re in a Serious Accident With a Company Vehicle, They’re Probably Protected—and You’re Not.
Many victims are shocked to discover businesses often start defending themselves before the ambulance drives the victim off from the crash scene. It’s a cold, hard fact: corporations and insurance companies will protect their money, not help you. They will circle the wagons and unleash a hail of professionals to avoid responsibility for the crash: insurance adjusters, attorneys, experts, investigators, and whoever it takes.
Don’t let them pull off the cover-up and cheat you. Get your questions answered by a Spartanburg, South Carolina car accident and tractor-trailer accident attorney who’s used to handling cases against employers for company vehicle accidents.
I’ve written a book for folks just like you that covers the basics of car accident cases, and you can download it here for free. Check out how other folks like you rate their experiences with us on an attorney review website we don’t own and Google+.
What should I bring to my first meeting with a car, motorcycle, or semi-truck accident attorney?
The easy, short answer is: for your first meeting with a car, motorcycle, or tractor-trailer accident attorney, bring every piece of paper that might be related to your case. If you don’t have many papers, or even any papers, don’t worry—one thing good lawyers do is chase down the evidence. We’ll do it for you! Don’t think you need to delay meeting because you don’t have enough evidence just yet.
Documents and Evidence You Can Bring
To help you get organized for the meeting, below are documents and evidence that are most helpful for an accident attorney to evaluate your case at the first meeting. Again, don’t worry if you don’t have all of these. They are listed pretty much in order of importance:
- Accident or collision report. The officer should have given you a form at the scene. That isn’t actually the full report, but it’s a start. If you have gotten the full report, bring it. Don’t worry if it says you’re at fault—the report could be wrong, and we might be able to right it.
- Pictures of anything related to your case. That includes pictures of your wrecked car and the at-fault driver’s car if you are lucky enough to get that. Pictures from the crash scene can be especially powerful. Pictures of your injuries can speak volumes—especially if you have gory cuts or broken bones. Don’t forget pictures related to your treatment, like cast or stitches removal. Another extremely powerful piece of evidence can be pictures showing your disabilities such as using a cane or walker or sleeping in a recliner.
- Contact information for any witnesses. Hopefully, the most important witnesses are recorded by the investigating officer on the crash report. But we also need witnesses who can testify about their observation of the pain and suffering inflicted on you by the accident, especially any physical difficulties or disabilities as a result.
- A medical provider list summarizing your treatment. This can be especially helpful, especially if you’ve undergone extensive treatment from many providers over a long time. This helps us hit the ground running on getting some of the most important evidence in your case—medical evidence of your injuries from clinical professionals. It also lets us know who we need to request medical bills from so we can help you get compensated for those.
- Letters or emails from insurance companies. This helps identify the claims rep, or adjuster, handling your case, and may give us a clue how they intend to defend against it.
- Any medical records you have. Don’t worry about not having all of your medical records—we can get those for you. But you have any notes from any doctor, bring them along because that helps give us a clue sometimes of the extent of your treatment and the nature of your injuries.
- Medical bills and receipts for payment. This helps us identify providers and prove that you paid them.
- Your health insurance card or your Medicaid or Medicare card. If you have any of these options to pay your medical bills, use them because that’s what they are for and they are the very best option. While you do have to repay them from your settlement, it just works out a whole lot better for you to do it that way, I promise.
- Lost wage documentation, if you lost time from work as a result of the injuries. You can be compensated for lost wages. Try to let us know a rough estimate of the total time you missed from work. You can bring pay stubs or even tax documents proving your lost income.
- Color copies of your photo ID, like a driver’s license. We likely need this for our file. It just helps identify you and may help us find information on the crash using your driver’s license number.
- Your declarations page for your own insurance. This is also called a “dec page.” It summarizes your coverage on your own auto policy. You get it from your auto insurance company when your policy renews. Believe it or not, seriously injured victims can recover compensation from their own insurance policy if they have the right kind of coverage. It’s called underinsurance, or UIM, and you need to KNOW WHAT IT IS. Having this coverage can make all the difference in the world, as shown by these cases we’ve handled:
- Drunk Driving Crash Victim's Settlement Tripled By Extra Coverage
- Attorney Finds More Insurance to Help Severely Injured Kids
- Multiple UIM Policies Used to Help Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury Victim
If you have time, organize everything into different categories and put it in a folder or file. This could save us a whole lot of time getting ready when you come in for your first meeting.
Get Your Questions Answered- Schedule a Free Strategy Session Today
If you’re worried what the meeting will be like, stop. It's free, and I’ve worked very hard to make it a breeze for you. Here’s a sneak peek what goes on at that meeting, which will assure you that gathering this information won’t be for nothing—because I’ll actually read it!
If you’ve got any other questions about crash cases in general, be sure to download my FREE BOOK on crash cases. To get your questions answered, always feel free to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
Can I sue a drunk driver for a car accident?
Yes. Your case will be complicated because it involves both aspects of the American justice system: criminal and civil. Worse, it’ll also involve an insurance company with no desire to do right by you.
- The criminal case is brought by the State to convict and punish the DUI driver. If convicted, the defendant faces fines or even prison if someone got seriously hurt. But this aspect of the law won’t require the defendant to compensate you for all your losses and harm.
- The civil case fills that gap by giving you the right to compensation for your injuries, like property damage to your car, medical bills, lost wages, damage to your marriage, human loss, and potentially the biggest factor in your case, punitive damages. Unlike most South Carolina cases, your case won't face legal limits on punitive damages.
Why DUI Wreck Victims Should Hire An Experienced Lawyer
In the criminal case, the State has a lawyer called a solicitor or prosecutor, to help convict the driver. While that lawyer is on your side, she isn’t your personal lawyer. She can’t bring a civil case to compensate you.
There’s a lot of reasons you need an attorney of your own, but here are six major ones:
- The key reason is the DUI driver has a major advantage over you: he’s backed by a multi-billion dollar monster—his auto insurance company. It’s got one goal in your case: stonewall you and beat you down into a cheap settlement. Their claims representatives prey on folks who don’t know their rights or are just too hurt to fight. (Read about the tricks up their sleeves.) To avoid cheating yourself out of the money you and your family deserve and likely need, hire a professional of your own to level the playing field and go on the offensive. If the adjuster finds out, he'll fight to prevent it- find out why, and how to handle these tactics.
- You’ll especially benefit from a drunk driving accident attorney who can find and develop the evidence supporting punitive damages to increase your settlement, even if you’re not hurt in the crash- you can discover how we've done that in a real case. An experienced car crash lawyer can get evidence from the criminal case to potentially enhance your settlement. You need an attorney who knows what to look for and how to use it. The key is knowing how to present it to the insurance company in a convincing way to compel a good settlement.
- An experienced DUI car accident attorney can give you the most vital guidance on a solid settlement value. Valuing a case is an art and a science. To gain the peace of mind it’s done right, you need a professional.
- A skilled car accident attorney can help find all aspects of auto insurance coverage available to pay your settlement. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance, hopefully you’ve got coverage on your own policy called underinsurance. While the available underinsurance may bring initial relief, I’ll spare you the shock on how this turns out—your own insurance company turns against you to contest your claim as if they were the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
- To add insult to injury, some DUI victims are shocked to learn the at-fault driver didn’t even have insurance. In that situation, you can use your own policy, with a coverage called uninsurance. Again, just because it’s your own insurance company, they are not your friend anymore.
- You also need an investigation into where the defendant drank alcohol. If he got drunk at a bar that let him drive away, you might have a case against the bar. An experienced attorney can help you find this needle in the haystack.
There’s a Lot More to Your Case
I’ve written a book answering many questions car crash victims ask—and need to ask, but don’t know to. Download the book I’ve written as service to folks like you.
The truth is, without professional help, you’re just not much of a threat to an insurance company. Why play around? Call me toll-free at 888-230-1841 to schedule a free strategy session to start building your case or fill out a Get Help Now form to get your questions answered.
If you’re wondering what it is like to work with me, check out these reviews from folks I’ve worked with on a website I don’t own.
Can I make a claim or sue for a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina?
Yes, but South Carolina law contains some harsh requirements you need to know, or you will lose your rights:
- Report the accident to the police immediately. It’s best to notify the law enforcement agency that would ordinarily investigate the crash at its location. It could be local police, the sheriff’s department, or the highway patrol.
- If you suspect you know who hit you, or you know someone else like a witness who might know, report it. You can’t be careless in helping police determine the identity of the other car or the identity of the other driver.
- Here’s a shocking inside tip: if your crash wasn’t caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, you need an independent witness to the crash. What kinds of crashes are we talking about here? The classic example is getting run off the road into a tree by a driver who just keeps going. No, he never hit you, but he ran you into the tree. That witness must sign an affidavit—a sworn statement—describing the facts of the hit-and-run accident. The affidavit must contain a specific disclaimer: “A false statement concerning the facts contained in this affidavit may subject the person making the false statement to criminal penalties as provided by law.”
A Real Spoiler Alert: Where the Money Comes From
This is the first shock many victims get. The compensation for your injuries comes from your own policy. It’s good that the law provides the right to recover from a policy you paid for when you get victimized by an unknown driver. But, it soon becomes stunning for many victims when their own insurance company turns on them. That’s when many realize while the agent is their friend when she sells them the policy, the insurance company becomes an enemy when they try to use it.
These cases are like any other case. You’ve got to fight for yourself and make sure all your evidence is properly presented to give yourself the best shot at proper compensation. That’s why it's always a good idea to contact an experienced auto accident attorney before you consider dealing with the insurance claims rep, called an adjuster.
Going It Alone Can Get You Nothing, or Close to It
While the law seems to further victimize the victim, it’s got to be followed, or you could lose your right to compensation you might desperately need to repay medical bills and make up for lost income, not to mention what I call human loss and, potentially, what could be a huge issue in your case the insurance company will fight hard against—punitive damages.
If you’ve got questions about your auto accident case, download our FREE BOOK on crash cases.
Don’t risk losing your rights or cheating yourself from inexperience. Enlist a professional whose job it is to protect you by calling toll-free at 888-230-1841 or by filling out a Get Help Now form.
My mom caused a wreck when I rode with her, and I got badly hurt. Can you get a settlement against a family member who causes a car accident when you're the passenger?
Yes. There’s no legal exception for family members who hurt relatives by causing an auto accident. And there shouldn’t be—of all the people who should look after your safety, it’s your relatives!
You don’t have to worry about them paying your medical bills out of their own pockets, either. Their auto liability insurance will do that. By the way, you should use health insurance to pay your bills because it’s a good deal, and it helps you.
You may have access to more insurance than you think to help pay for your injuries. If you’re hurt bad enough, you hopefully have the most important auto insurance of all—underinsurance (UIM)—on your own policy.
If making this claim against a family member makes you uncomfortable, that’s natural. But should your discomfort keep you from replacing your losses, especially when it comes from insurance that’s paid for to cover them?
A chief unspoken benefit of having a lawyer you trust is that we take on the things that make you uncomfortable, so you don’t have to. We protect your rights to maximum compensation, search for all insurance that could cover your injuries, and handle the insurance representative who’s out to take advantage of you.
If you’ve got questions about a wreck, we know you need answers. That’s why I wrote a free book you can download called I Just Got In A South Carolina Car Accident, Now What? And you can always fill out our Get Help Now form to get answers from an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer.
What’s the leading cause of motorcycle accidents?
It’s not riders. A 1998 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal government agency, found the top cause of motorcycle accidents:
Other drivers (i.e. cars or trucks) who violate the rider’s right of way.
So take heed, cage drivers! Look out for motorcycles! NHTSA’s comprehensive analysis of the problem gives tips to help both drivers and motorcyclists avoid tragic or even fatal accidents:
- Drivers, avoid the deadliest of sins. Don't drive distracted. Cars and trucks present way too many options to develop fatal habits that take your attention off the road. When driving, just drive. No food, no phone calls, and certainly no texts. Just the road ahead.
- Riders should follow these tips and wear bright colors.
Need More Answers?
Motorcycle accident victims have lots of questions. And maybe, more importantly, there are questions you SHOULD ask but don’t know to since you’re not a professional in handling these cases. That’s why I wrote a free book on the subject, I Just Got in a South Carolina Car Accident, Now What?
If you want personal attention to your problem from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, feel free to start a live chat right where you are to start addressing your concerns, building your case against the motorist who ignored and hurt you—and making it right.
What happens if I get in an auto accident with an Uber driver?
Uber and other rideshare services add tremendous comfort and convenience, and no one thinks about getting hurt using them.
But bad things happen occasionally—and unexpectedly. You can be hurt without warning by a traffic collision involving a rideshare vehicle. Even if it’s not the Uber driver’s fault, you need to know how your case works.
Here’s the most important, basic stuff about your Uber car accident case.
First Things First: Uber Insurance Coverage for Car Accidents
The most important question for injury victims or families who suffer wrongful death in a fatal accident is this one: What insurance covers an Uber accident?
Here’s how Uber covers its drivers as of March 1, 2018:
- If the driver’s Uber app is off, he’s offline. Only the driver’s personal insurance applies.
- If the driver’s Uber app is on but the driver has no passengers and is not on the way to get them, Uber’s coverage is a maximum of: $50,000 for any one victim, $100,000 for the whole crash, and $25,000 for property damage.
- If the Uber driver is carrying passengers or is on the way to get them, coverage is up to $1,000,000 for crashes caused by the Uber driver. And if the auto accident is not the Uber driver’s fault, there’s good news for victims: If the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to pay for your injuries or loss of a loved one, Uber provides a maximum of $1,000,000 extra coverage, called underinsurance.
- While riding with Uber, if you’re a victim of a hit and run or an at-fault driver with no insurance, Uber provides up to $1,000,000 uninsured coverage for injuries or wrongful death.
Your case may be further complicated by other insurance coverage from other drivers’ policies—including your own.
And That’s Only the Tip of the Iceberg
That’s only the beginning of issues you’ve got to contend with in your case. For more free info about your case, a good starting point is our car crash home page. Or you can download our FREE REPORT on South Carolina car crash cases. As always, if you’ve got specific questions, fill out our Get Help Now form on this page or just call 888-230-1841 to speak to an experienced auto accident attorney.
If I get hit by a car walking across the street or riding a bicycle, what rights do I have?
You have the same rights to be compensated as an innocent motorist or passenger in a typical car, truck, or motorcycle accident. Here are three important factors in your case:
If the accident is all or mostly your fault—for example, if you walked despite a “stop” signal on the crosswalk light or veered across three lanes of traffic on your bicycle—you cannot legally recover.
But even if you may have played a role in the crash, don’t be discouraged. Due to the rule of “comparative negligence,” you might still win compensation. To get your best shot at a recovery, you’ll need an experienced auto accident lawyer to convince the insurance company that its driver is most at fault.
Even if the driver’s fault is clear, it’s smart to consult an attorney to strategize the best way to maximize your financial recovery. Legal compensation is built from many details that have to be fully developed before the insurance company will part with its beloved cash to pay you.
Traffic accidents often result in severe injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists or even death, especially if it involves a child. The worse the injuries, the greater potential to collect more compensation. As the value of your claim rises, it becomes more important to protect your rights to a fair recovery; at the same time, it becomes much harder for an untrained person to win the best available outcome.
Seriously hurt or grieving people have too much to worry about already. They can be overwhelmed by dealing with insurance company demands and by the insurance adjuster, who’s evaluated on how much he doesn’t pay out in claims. Insurance companies take advantage of amateur claimants, getting out cheap by forcing an unjustifiably low settlement when you’re just exhausted or don’t know any better.
It’s easy to overlook your rights in this situation, including the availability of all potential sources of financial recovery. Keep reading.
The primary source of recovery is auto insurance. Victims get paid first from the at-fault driver’s policy. You’ll need to be sure you know the maximum amount that policy will pay. An experienced auto accident attorney can help.
Finally, some good news. If needed, and if you bought the right coverage, you can use your OWN auto policy. If your case is that serious, you need a skilled attorney to review your coverage, then prove your rights to get as much as possible.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Remember, these are just three factors in your case; there are usually a lot more moving parts to manage than that. Don’t risk adding insult to injury by getting shortchanged by an insurance company or overlooking your coverage. Fill out our Get Help Now form to get your questions answered and start building your case today.
What do I do about fixing or replacing my vehicle after an accident?
That’s actually two questions. Welcome to the often-complicated world of auto insurance, where you’ll learn first-hand how hard insurance companies can be when you attempt to use their product as intended.
Here’s how a car, truck, or motorcycle accident property damage claim breaks down:
Which Insurance Do You File With?
You can file your property damage claim with your own auto insurance company or the at-fault driver’s. The biggest consideration here is, filing with your own company might get it done faster because you’re their customer. But your recovery may be limited by your policy.
Also, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible, meaning an amount insurance doesn’t cover. It’s usually $500 or so.
Your policy may have other limits on your recovery. Ask your insurance agent.
If you file with the at-fault driver’s insurance, you can expect to deal with an adjuster who’s not on your side. Here’s more on him, including whether you should contact an attorney before speaking with him and how to outwit adjusters and their tricks. For the most part, insurance companies usually handle property damage claims pretty fairly without the need of a lawyer—but don’t count on that for your injury case.
Questions? Feel free to fill out a contact form and our Spartanburg lawyers will provide further answers.
What Will a Property Damage Settlement Recover?
This is a list of items you might get if you make a claim against the at-fault driver:
- Repairs. If your car is repairable, you can recover the value of repairs, even if you don’t get them. But you need at least an estimate of the cost, done by a qualified mechanic.
- Vehicle replacement. If your vehicle is “totaled,” meaning totally destroyed or repairs exceed its fair market value, you can recover the fair market value of the vehicle on the date of the crash. A good source for estimates is Kelley Blue Book.
- Loss of use. This is compensation for the time you were deprived of the vehicle’s use while it was repaired or replaced. A good estimate of this is the cost of renting the same or similar vehicle. You might recover this even if you didn’t actually rent a car, or you borrowed someone else’s for free.
- Depreciation. This is for the reduction in fair market value after repairs. If your vehicle is in as good condition as before the crash, you don’t qualify for this.
- Punitive damages, in rare cases. This recovery is reserved for some of the worst behavior, usually criminal. If your car got wrecked by a DUI driver, you might qualify for punitive damages. But you can expect a big fight over it and you’ll likely need a lawyer to give you the best shot at obtaining them. We handle these cases differently than ordinary crash cases. Contact us by email, live chat, or calling (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to find out more.
Get Help Using Insurance to Repair Your Vehicle After An Accident In South Carolina
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, handling the property damage aspect may be the easiest part of your case. If you are overwhelmed with your injuries or the idea of handling the insurance company, you don’t have to go it alone. Send us an email or start a live chat right where you are so we can start answering your questions and point you in the right direction.
How will the insurance company contact me after a car or motorcycle accident? Should I talk to the insurance adjuster or talk to an attorney first?
The insurance company contacts you through its claims adjuster, also called claims rep or claims handler. The adjuster typically works for the liability insurance company of the at-fault driver who hurt you. Oddly, in an underinsurance or uninsured claim, the adjuster actually works for your insurance company.
Regardless of who he works for, the adjuster’s primary goal is very simple—get the insurance company out of this as quickly and cheaply as possible. The adjuster may be friendly, but he is not your friend. You must deal with him accordingly. So let's answer what you should REALLY be asking.
When Do I Need an Attorney for a Car or Motorcyle Acccident?
Here’s tips on whether you should speak to the adjuster now, or consider hiring an experienced car or motorcylce accident attorney to do it for you:
- If you have a simple claim—like you went to the ER and then a couple visits of physical therapy for a sore back—you may be able to handle the adjuster by yourself. Before you do that, get informed. Download our FREE BOOK on crash cases, and be sure to check out these typical tricks adjusters use and how to handle them.
- If you have serious injuries OR AREN'T SURE YET HOW EXTENSIVELY YOU'RE HURT [which is often the case], you're a prime candidate for the adjuster to beat you into a quick, cheap settlement. This situation includes:
- a broken bone,
- anything requiring a referral to a specialist like an orthopedist or neurosurgeon,
- signs of a brain injury- which might not develop until later.
Your case will be more complicated from a medical standpoint, so you've got to know how to protect your rights to present it the right way in court. It's also important for you to know the true value of your case, so you don't get cheated out of compensation you could really use. Unlike the adjuster, you have no idea of what your case is worth, which can be more complicated than you think. And the key to getting a proper out of court settlement can often be showing the adjuster you're ready for court, with a convincing evidence package to prove it.
You owe it to yourself and your family to get your own professional on your side: an experienced car accident attorney. You need to focus on recovery and not worry about having your rights violated, or responding to repeated demands for information, or waiting for the adjuster to call you back.
- If you are unsure how seriously you are hurt, you risk torpedoing your claim by giving uncertain information to the adjuster. Like trying to be tough, telling him you feel okay, only to discover later you actually need a spinal operation. Yep, that’s happened.
Final analysis: If you are seriously hurt, unsure how your medical treatment will turn out, or unsure how to do deal with the adjuster, then don’t immediately talk to the adjuster.
Remember: information is power, especially when you’re dealing with an experienced professional who’s handled potentially thousands of claims and is skilled at shortchanging injury victims like you. Talking to an experienced car accident lawyer first is in your best interest. If you tell the adjuster, he'll object- here's why and how to counteract it.
At Holland & Usry, we help people like you. We're car and motorcycle accident attorneys in Spartanburg, South Carolina who protect victims' rights in the surrounding area. Contact us with a live chat or email to answer your questions, or even set up a free, easy strategy session to discuss your claim and evaluate every possible insurance policy that could provide money to help you. Even if we don’t accept your case or you decide not to hire us, it might give you peace of mind and some free pointers.