So many accidents are caused by semi-trucks. The consequences for victims include devastating and all too often fatal injuries. Victims rightfully wonder how to get the most money in a South Carolina 18-wheeler accident settlement, as these crashes often cause extreme medical bills, long-term lost income, and life-changing injury.
To help folks understand the complexities involved in getting a good settlement in a South Carolina tractor-trailer wreck, we’re opening the vault to show our process to get settlements for clients. Note: If your case involves a fatal accident, you’ve got a different kind of case, called “wrongful death” in South Carolina. We’ve got a process to handle those cases too.
Get your specific questions answered directly by a Spartanburg, South Carolina, semi-trailer accident attorney. Call us toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form. You should also download our FREE BOOK on crash cases, which features a chapter on tractor-trailer accidents.
Our 10-Point Process for Handling South Carolina Semi-Truck Accident Cases
These are our methods to get solid settlements in South Carolina 18-wheeler accident cases:
1. Investigate the Crash to Prove It’s Not Your Fault
The first thing we do is get your side of the story in our FREE, EASY strategy session. Then we get all the evidence we can about the crash, including:
- The police report is not all you need to prove fault. We know how hard the trucking company’s insurance company will fight, so we don’t stop there.
- Extremely serious tractor-trailer accidents in South Carolina, especially fatal ones, sometimes get investigated by a highly trained team of highway troopers called the MAIT team. Their investigations can yield incredibly rich sources of evidence, like video, tremendous amounts of pictures from the scene, witness interviews, drawings, and even computer-generated animations. We know how to get that and how to use it.
- For any witnesses, we hunt them down and encourage them to help by making a statement.
2. Notify the Trucking Company to Preserve Evidence
One thing victims don’t know about trucking crashes is, the trucking company can be held legally responsible. And it’s a critical aspect of your case. Essentially, trucking companies sometimes fail to hire qualified truckers, or train truckers properly, or hold their truckers accountable to federal safety regulations designed to keep us safe, called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act laws. These safety regulations can be vital to the strength of your case because they create enhanced potential for punitive damages.
But there’s a catch: Nothing keeps the trucking company from destroying evidence. So you’ve got to tell them not to before they do it. One of the first things we do is send a “spoliation letter” directing them to preserve a long list of evidence we can potentially use to help your case.
3. Evaluate Your Case for Punitive Damages
As stated above, proving federal safety rule violations can enhance the potential for punitive damages. We take that seriously. We also research the trucking company’s safety record online, which can help us determine if it’s had a long history of ignoring safety, maybe even causing a series of accidents similar to yours.
4. Consider Experts We Might Need to Maximize Your Settlement
South Carolina tractor-trailer accidents are always hard-fought by the trucking company, no matter how horrific the injuries. We might need experts to help us prove fault or violations of truck driving safety standards. Those experts can include an accident reconstructionist or a trucking safety expert. Because it’s an added expense in your case, we discuss the ramifications of it with you before hiring one. It’s part of our obligation to communicate with you as your case develops.
5. Compile and Effectively Present Medical Evidence
You may be surprised to learn that it’s the victim who’s responsible for paying their own medical bills from a South Carolina semi-truck accident. PRO TIP: Use your health insurance or Medicare or Medicaid to pay them. That’s what it’s for.
The way a settlement works is, you get reimbursed through the settlement for those medical bills. And it gets better. We’re often able to negotiate a discount to repay health insurance or Medicare or Medicaid for the bills they paid.
In serious tractor-trailer accident cases involving hospitalizations, long-term care, or operations, just getting all the medical bills and records is a mammoth task. It requires multiple follow-ups with providers to remind them to get them to us. It’s such a huge job for me as a professional I’ve got a paralegal whose primary job is solely devoted to doing only that.
Some lawyers just get medical records and send them to the insurance company with copies of the bills and a letter that says “pay me.” That’s no way to maximize a settlement. Insurance companies know what lawyers prepare their cases. We send medical records with summaries of treatment highlights to show we understand how medical evidence works and we know how to use it to help you.
Our study of your medical records also helps us gain a fuller understanding of the impact of the injuries on you.
But that’s often not all we do. Many times, injuries are so widespread and complex, we meet with your doctor to gain a better understanding of his view of your injuries – and what they mean for your future. Because South Carolina tractor-trailer accidents often leave victims with permanent injuries requiring future medical care, we protect your right to getting money for future treatment in your settlement. It shouldn’t surprise you at this point to know you don’t just get that for asking – it’s got to be presented the right way to show the insurance company you can get that admitted into evidence if the case goes to court.
6. Show How the Injuries Changed Your Life
Many victims want to know how much they can get for pain and suffering in a South Carolina tractor-trailer accident case. Let me set aside an awful rumor: there is NO “pain and suffering” calculator.
In our years of helping victims like you, we’ve realized all people are different, and all injuries affect all people differently. It’s rooted in our uniqueness as individuals. A “pain and suffering” calculator is a tool for insurance companies to shortchange people and limit their expectations for a good tractor-trailer accident settlement. Settlements are based on facts, and we get the facts on how the injuries affected your life in the past, present, and future.
By the way, it’s not just “pain and suffering.” The law offers much more compensation. That’s why we call it “human loss.”
Because this is one of the biggest parts of your case, we work closely with you to develop the harm and loss you sustained. It helps us understand everything you went through and how to prove it. It may lead us to other witnesses or other evidence. We use methods we’ve developed to simply but powerfully present this aspect of your case convincingly to the insurance company to justify a maximum settlement.
Your lost income won’t be “lost in the shuffle.” We’ll help you keep track of the work you missed and get a statement from your employer to prove the income you lost.
Your spouse isn’t lost in the shuffle, either. Severe injuries can have a severe impact on a marriage. The law recognizes that. We work with your spouse to help prove their case for damage to your marriage as a result of a semi-truck accident. South Carolina law calls that “loss of consortium.”
7. Decide Whether to File a Lawsuit Early
Trucking company insurance companies are notorious for fighting South Carolina semi-truck accidents hard. Sometimes it’s just better to cut to the chase and start getting the most evidence possible, the best possible way. Filing a lawsuit gives us the right to discovery. That means the trucking company is forced to disclose all evidence related to the accident. Without discovery, there’s often not a whole lot they have to give up.
This is an important strategic decision, which we go over with you before we make a move in this direction.
8. Evaluate How Much We Should Ask for in a Settlement and Go Over It With You
We always remember the most important person in your case: you. When we get all the evidence in, we analyze all relevant factors to arrive at how much of a settlement you’re entitled to in your South Carolina tractor-trailer accident case.
We even give you a written settlement evaluation in clear, nonlegal terms. It includes our analysis of not just strengths but weaknesses. Like people, no case is perfect. It’s part of our job to tell you with honest, sincere compassion about aspects of your case that can help the other side. Otherwise, we’ve blinded you.
9. Send a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company or Its Lawyer
A demand letter lays out all the facts to justify why the insurance company should pay a substantial settlement for a South Carolina tractor-trailer accident case. In these cases, it’s often a series of letters as we track your medical treatment and the impact of the injuries on your life as time goes on. This sets us apart from some lawyers, who just throw medical records and bills at an insurance company without explanation, saying, “pay me.” What that actually says to the insurance company is, I don’t take the time to review the evidence in my cases, I don’t put much thought into the value of my cases, so just pay me a cheap, quick settlement and I’ll go away.
This is not who we are. The insurance company will know we are prepared to move forward with the evidence we can get admitted into court at a jury trial. This is a key factor in increasing the value of your South Carolina semi-trailer accident case.
It’s also another unique feature of our process. We don’t just stay quiet while you treat, then dump thousands of pages of medical records on an adjuster or opposing counsel and demand an immediate response. As professionals with experience in this arena, we figured out the best way to get the best result from an insurance company is to keep them advised over time. When we send the final demand, it’s just the last piece of information the insurance company needs so they can begin to consider our settlement offer.
10. Settlement Negotiations and the Next Step
Even if a lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations can begin at any time with opposing counsel. If no lawsuit is filed, we negotiate with the trucking company insurance company’s adjuster. Regardless of who we’re negotiating with, we keep you updated with every step of the negotiating process. We will tell you all the insurance company counter-offers and discuss with you our response and the reasons behind it.
If we filed a lawsuit in your South Carolina trucking accident case, you should expect a mediation. That’s where the parties hire an experienced lawyer who’s not involved in the case to help them settle. It’s purely voluntary, so if we can’t agree, the case marches on towards trial. It can still settle at any time, even during trial.
Most cases settle. Our constant aim in our case is to get a solid settlement that’s fair to you in your South Carolina tractor-trailer accident case.
How Long Does It Take to Get a South Carolina Semi-Truck Settlement?
Short answer: it’s different in every case but longer than anyone wants. However, you can’t cheat yourself or your family with a cheap settlement just to “get it over with.” Because we get asked this a lot, I wrote this article to give you a better idea of some checkpoints that move your case toward settlement at the right time.
You May Not Realize How High the Deck’s Stacked Against You. Get Professional Help.
This is how cold and calculating the insurance company is: as you suffer on the roadside from the immediate impact of a tractor-trailer wrecking your life, the trucker, the trucking company, and their insurance company are already conspiring against you.
The trucker’s called the trucking company to get advice. He’s taking pictures and getting his story together for the police. You’re likely to be too hurt to tell your side.
Meanwhile, the trucking company calls the insurance company. The insurance company calls the calvary, summoning a horde of lawyers and experts to label you a greedy liar.
This is just one reason of many you need an experienced Spartanburg, South Carolina trucking accident attorney on your side.