If you get hurt in a SC car crash caused by another driver's negligence, no one is going to rush in and voluntarily cover all your costs.
The at-fault driver's insurance company may deny your claim outright. If they make a settlement offer, it will almost certainly be far less than what you are owed.
At some point before retaining their personal injury lawyer, most people will wonder if they can handle this situation without an attorney.
How hard can it be? We were hurt in the accident, and the highway patrol said the accident was the other driver's fault. We can just give the other driver's insurance company our medical records and they will handle it, right?
It usually doesn't take very long to realize why people retain an auto accident lawyer to help them recover. You really aren't sure what the insurance company is obligated to pay, and they aren't telling you. The truth is that the representative of the other driver's insurance company is hoping that you will not find representation and that you will attempt to handle your case and settle it without an attorney...
Your SC auto accident attorney can help level the playing field for you. Like the insurance adjuster, the Axelrod team has experience with high-stakes negotiations. Unlike the adjuster, we are also trained advocates for plaintiffs and we have experience trying auto accident cases.
How Do I Get the Insurance Company to Pay?
First, you must know what full compensation is in your situation.
There are many different elements of damages and any or all of them may apply to your case. You are entitled to compensation for all damages that were a foreseeable consequence of the other driver's negligence. For example:
- All reasonable medical expenses that are a result of the accident. This can include expenses from many different sources like EMS, hospital bills, ER physicians, and the costs of surgeries and medications.
- Reasonable medical expenses may also include future medical expenses. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may need follow up care for a period of time or you may need lifelong care. Long-term care, the possibility of complications, and even cosmetic surgeries can be expenses that the other driver is required to cover.
- Property damage must be covered - ordinarily, insurance companies will cover damage to vehicles quickly but there may be other property damage for which they are responsible.
- Physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation that are necessary following the accident.
- Psychological damage such as therapy for PTSD following the crash.
- Lost wages for time lost from work.
- Loss of earning capacity caused by disability or long-term injuries.
- Any out-of-pocket expenses that were a result of the accident.
- Pain and suffering - the insurance company would like to just write you a check for some of your medical bills and be done with it, but they know that they are required to pay much more than just the medical bills.
- Punitive damages are awarded by jurors following a trial, but, in a case where punitive damages are appropriate, the insurance company must consider the possibility of punitive damages in the settlement amount.
Once you have determined what types of damages are present in your case, you have collected all the records and documentation, and you have presented that information to the insurance company in a carefully drafted demand letter, you can expect that the insurance company will reject your demand and make a counter-offer that is substantially less than what they are responsible for paying.
How Can an Auto Accident Attorney in Myrtle Beach Help?
Once you've got us on your side, we will take over the stressful communications with the insurance company. Immediately, we begin collecting evidence, working with doctors to prove your damages, negotiating with the insurance company, and preparing your case for trial.
The Demand Letter
In most cases, your attorney will send a demand letter to the insurance company before filing your lawsuit. In other cases, it may be a better strategy to go ahead and file the lawsuit - any negotiations will then be done with the insurance company's defense attorneys.
In the letter, your attorney will usually include:
- A detailed account of the events that led up to the accident;
- Exactly what happened during the accident;
- What medical treatment you have already received;
- The medical treatment you will need in the future; and
- Other damages that you are entitled to, including punitive damages when appropriate.
In most cases, insurance companies will not pay your initial demand. In many cases, they will not negotiate in good faith until all discovery has been completed and we are nearing the trial date.
The Initial Offer
After reviewing your demand letter, the insurance company may give itself room to negotiate by lowballing you on their first offer. There is no need to be shocked or worried by this - it's a normal part of the process.
Insurance companies have made a science out of paying the least amount of money possible to personal injury claimants - a lot of things will go into their calculation of their initial offer and their bottom line, including whether you have an attorney, your attorney's experience with car wreck cases in SC, and your attorney's trial experience and results.
When the insurance company makes an offer that we cannot accept, we reject the offer. Depending on the strength of your case, your goals, and the likelihood of reaching a settlement with the adjuster, we may then continue negotiating, or we may file the lawsuit against the other driver.
After you file the lawsuit, the adjuster will send your case to an insurance defense attorney - in some cases, the back and forth of negotiations may continue with the defense lawyer, until they settle the case or until the trial date comes.
Sometimes negotiations do stall. We won't go any lower, and the insurance company won't go any higher. In most counties in SC, including Horry County, mediation is mandatory before a case goes to trial.
The mediator, usually an attorney who has no connection to either side of the case, may bring a fresh perspective. By pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each side's arguments, mediators are often able to help you find a number that satisfies both sides.
When negotiations and mediation fail, your attorney must be ready to try your case to a jury verdict...
Your Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team knows how to negotiate with insurance companies and will be ready to try your auto accident case to a jury if the insurance company does not pay.