Car Accident Case Timeline
How Does a Car Accident Case Progress?
Every car accident case we get in the lowcountry is unique. No matter what injuries or damages arise from a claim, the vast majority of these cases settle before ever making it to civil court.
Whether there’s a settlement or if a case goes to civil court, every car accident and personal injury case follows a similar timeline. Let’s look at how this particular scenario plays out:
The Accident Occurs
- Once you’ve been in a car accident, there’s a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure your rights are protected. Calling the police, documenting an accident, identifying witnesses, exchanging insurance information and seeking immediate medical treatment are all necessary steps following any car accident.
Medical Treatment is Needed
- Even after you’ve been seen by paramedics following your South Carolina car accident, it’s a safe practice to get a second check up from your family doctor. This may include running a number of tests, performing x-rays and possibly MRI scans.
Contacting a Car Accident Attorney
- Once it’s become clear the medical bills are going to start piling up for your car accident injuries, it’s time to call a South Carolina car accident attorney. If your attorney believes you have a case and are entitled to damages, including medical bills, costs of future medical care and loss of future earning capacity — you and the attorney will come to terms on a fair contingency fee arrangement and sign a legal services agreement.
The Car Accident Attorney Goes to Work
- The attorney will make a claim on your behalf, alleging the other driver was negligent in causing the accident that led to your injuries. Then attorney’s firm will gather expert testimony from medical professionals and the evidence you documented from the accident scene to argue why you deserve a fair compensation for those injuries.
The Settlement Negotiation Process Begins
- The attorney contacts the negligent party’s insurance company and presents the case for their liability towards your injuries. In almost every case, the insurance company will push back with a lower offer — often one much lower than the limits of the policy.
If Negotiations are Successful...
- If both sides can reach fair compensation, a settlement agreement will be drafted to outline the terms in which you will receive their compensation. The agreement will include a provision where the negligent party is released from all future liabilities of your accident. If all agreements are met, both parties, attorneys and insurance carriers will sign the agreement.
If Negotiations are Unsuccessful
- If talks breakdown and neither side can agree on a fair amount of compensation, your attorney will recommend an official lawsuit be filed and the case proceeds to court.
Off to Court We Go
- Each party will file papers and will go through the discovery process, which can include interrogatories, depositions and document requests. Mediation is mandatory in South Carolina, and is another opportunity to attempt settlement. Mediation is where an independent party is brought in to help both sides come to a settlement agreement. If, the case is not resolved at this stage, the parties prepare for trial where the case will be seen in front of a judge and jury to hear all evidence, testimony and financial impact. From there, the jury will make a decision on whether the defendant is liable for your damages and how much compensation will be awarded to you.
If the Jury Says Guilty...
- They jury will decide on the proper damages to give you and the court will enter a final judgement. The negligent party can appeal the decision to a higher court if he is not satisfied with the result.
If the Jury Says Not Guilty...
- You receive no compensation.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney
It takes an experienced car accident attorney to know when to go to court and when to settle. It’s a tricky process where if you are the one with medical bills on the line, you don’t want anyone overzealous to go all-or-nothing with your future earnings.
At the same time, a conservative attorney may not go for the proper compensation that will ultimately stabilize your life going forward after a life-altering accident. That’s why you can’t trust just anyone with your car accident case.
David Aylor has over a decade of experience in the settlement negotiation room fighting for people just like you. Call his office today at 843-744-4444 for a free consultation on your case.