After a car accident, many people are scared. They don’t know where to start, they’re petrified of driving again, and some are even anxious to leave their house. Our team’s goal is to help everyone who has been involved in an accident recover physically, financially, and emotionally after an unexpected wreck. We understand how challenging the aftermath of an accident can be for you and your loved ones, and we are here to walk you through the process so you can begin and focus on the process of healing.

If you are looking for help navigating the legal system after a car accident, we’re here for you. With over 60 years of combined experience, our team helps people and their loved ones recover from serious accidents, injuries, and wrongful death every single day. We can help you. 

If you have any questions about the process or your specific accident, please call our office. We offer complimentary case evaluations to all accident victims so you can feel safe, heard, and understand your options under the South Carolina law. Give our team a call today at (803) 888-2200.

What to do Immediately Following a Car Accident

Nobody is taught what to do if you’re in an accident. Our goal is to change that so every South Carolina driver is prepared and can protect their rights when the unexpected happens. That’s why we created this free checklist you can keep in your car.

Car Accident Guide Print Out

Did You Know: We will ship a printed copy of this checklist to you for free. Simply email and provide the best address to ship it to and how many you need (we recommend 1/car).

As outlined in the graphic above, there are 8 steps you should follow immediately after a car accident.

1. Move to safety.

If you are able to, move yourself and your vehicle to a safe location. This may be the shoulder of the road if you’re on a highway, a nearby parking lot, or other safe space.

2. Stay at the scene. 

Do not leave the scene of an accident. Stay on the scene, and if you’re able to, collect and make note of important information such as the date, time, weather/road conditions, the name(s) of those involved, names and contact information of witnesses, license plates, and more.

3. Stay as calm as possible. 

You are likely running on a lot of adrenaline – try to remain calm. At this point, you or someone else should call 911 if nobody has already.

4. Do not move if injured.

If you’re injured, try to remain still until medical personnel arrive. If someone else is seriously injured, try to keep them still as well, as sudden movements can make injuries worse.

5. Take photos of the accident and surrounding scene.

If you’re able to, take photos of the accident and the surrounding environment. Take photos of any damage to the vehicle(s), nearby signs, and any other details you may think are important. These help document the conditions the accident occurred in.

6. Do not allow the involved parties to take a photo of your license. 

They may collect your drivers license number, but other personal information should not be shared. Simply read them your driver’s license number for their records.

7. Get medical attention.

Whether you are clearly injured or feel fine, it’s in your best interest to get checked out by a professional. After an accident, your adrenaline may be masking injuries and pain. In addition, some injuries can take days for symptoms to begin, so always get checked out by a doctor. Let’s make sure you’re safe.

8. Always file a police report.

Do NOT admit fault. Do not apologize.

Do I Need to Report My Car Accident to Insurance?

No matter who was at fault or how serious the accident was, you should always notify your insurer that an accident occurred.

You will need to file an insurance claim if:

  1. You caused the collision,
  2. The other driver does not have insurance, or 
  3. Your claim exceeds their coverage, and you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

How do I Report My Car Accident to Insurance?

Many insurance companies have 24/7 hotlines or online portals where you can report your accident. Make sure to have the following information available:

  • Your policy number [Typically located on the front of your card – may be listed as Policy # or Policy ID]
  • Details about the accident
  • Information about the other driver, including their insurance information

How to File an Insurance Claim Against the At-Fault Driver

If the other driver was found at fault for the accident, you will file an insurance claim with their insurance company, this is known as a third-party claim. You can do this by calling their insurance company or using the online claim reporting option if available. 

After submitting your claim, they will review the claim before getting back to you. This process can take a long time depending on the specifics of the accident and if you have a law firm representing you or not. In addition, you should be prepared for the insurance company to: 

  • Deny your claim,
  • Offer you much less than what you deserve, or
  • Use tactics to try to get you to:
    • Give up and let the statute of limitations pass, making your claim invalid
    • Admit fault 
    • Admit partial fault 

We do not recommend giving a recorded statement to any insurance companies as they may ask misleading questions in order to deny your claim.

If any of this happens, which we unfortunately see far too often, it is in your best interest to talk to an experienced lawyer. Our team will review your case at no cost to you and give you insight into what you actually deserve and your options under South Carolina law.

Read more tips on how to deal with the insurance company after a car accident.

What If I Was Partially At-Fault?

South Carolina is an “at-fault” state. As long as you were found to be less than 51% at-fault for the accident, you can still recover a portion of your damages. The percent at-fault you are found will determine how much compensation you are entitled to. For example, if you are found to be 25% at fault, your recovery may be reduced to 75% of what it would be if you were not partially at fault. If you are found more than 50% at-fault, you will not be able to collect compensation in the state of South Carolina.

What Compensation Can I Get After an Accident?

Your lawyer will work with you to give you a clear understanding of what compensation you may be entitled to based on the specifics of your case. With Cavanaugh & Thickens, we will explain to you what you’re owed for all past, current, and future damages you have related to the accident, and we won’t settle for anything less. Generally, you can seek compensation for a wide array of damages caused by an accident, including but not limited to:

  • Doctor and Hospital Bills
  • Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, and Rehabilitation Bills
  • Orthopedists, Neurologists, and other Medical Specialists Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Past and Future Time Missed From Work
  • Lost Future Earning Capacity
  • Car/Property Damage
  • Punitive Damages
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Lost Quality of Life
  • Wrongful Death
  • Loss of Consortium

How to Handle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident

Serious car injuries can affect more than just the physical body, it can also lead to emotional trauma and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD from a car accident can include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and more. You may also feel hyper-aware and avoid driving or riding in cars altogether. In these cases, we work with our clients to ensure they have the proper resources available to them, such as mental health counseling, therapy, driving resources/lessons and more. 

How Will a Lawyer Help My Car Accident Case?

An experienced car accident lawyer will help with a lot of aspects of your case from optimizing your claim to fighting for you in court.

To start, we will conduct a thorough investigation into your accident. This is referred to as the “Discovery” phase. During this stage, we will be obtaining and analyzing police reports, reviewing your medical records, getting security footage of the accident, interviewing witnesses, looking at the other driver’s cell phone records, taking photos of the scene, proving fault and negligence, holding depositions, hiring expert witnesses, and much more.

Throughout this stage, we will also be negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company to obtain a fair settlement on your behalf. Having an attorney on your side makes the at-fault party’s insurance company take you and your claim more seriously, and they know they won’t get away with any tricks. Our team is trained and experienced in negotiating with insurance companies. We have a track record of securing our clients with much higher settlements than the insurance company originally offered them.

If we cannot come to a fair settlement, then our experienced trial attorneys will fight for you in court. While most cases settle out of court, it’s important to hire a lawyer who isn’t afraid of going to bat for you in court.

We will be transparent with you on important decisions and keep you up-to-date on what’s going on throughout this process so you never feel alone or in the dark.

How Much Does Hiring a Lawyer Cost?

We believe that every injured person deserves justice. That’s why we offer completely free case evaluations where we will listen to you and explain your rights under South Carolina law.

In addition, our experienced car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that at the end of your case your attorney receives a percentage of the total compensation earned for you. If for some reason there is no recovery, then you owe our team nothing.

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?

In South Carolina, you generally have three years to file a personal injury claim against private entities. This means you generally have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim. However, there are exceptions to this. For example, if the accident involved a government entity, this time frame is reduced.

While this might seem like a long time, this process can take a while and it’s in your best interest to act sooner than later. Acting fast allows your attorney to preserve important evidence, maximize your claim, and get to a fair resolution more quickly.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

To schedule a complimentary case evaluation directly with an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer, simply call our office today at (803) 888-2200, email, or complete our online form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

About Cavanaugh & Thickens, LLC

Founded in 2017 by J. Eric Cavanaugh and Joseph O. Thickens, Cavanaugh & Thickens is an award-winning personal injury law firm helping accident victims and their loved ones recover physically, financially, and emotionally following serious injuries and wrongful death. 

With over 60 years of combined experience, the lawyers at Cavanaugh & Thickens represent people and families throughout the state of South Carolina in truck accidents, car accidents, workers’ compensation cases, and more. Our team’s diligent work ethic and history of results  has earned us numerous awards and recognitions, such as “The Best Lawyers in America®” and the 2023 Best of Columbia award winner for “Best Workers’ Compensation Law Firm.” 

For your convenience, our team is available 24/7 with offices in Columbia and Mount Pleasant. 160+ 5-Star Reviews. Client Focused. Results Driven.