Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident by far. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, approximately 40 percent of all car accidents in the United States are rear-ended collisions.
One of the reasons why rear-end collisions are so common is that they can result from a wide range of causes. This includes many forms of driver negligence and issues with the road, issues with the following driver’s vehicle, and other factors.
When seeking financial compensation for a rear-end collision in South Carolina, one of the first steps is determining what specific factors (or factors) led to the crash. Here is an overview of this process—and the other steps you will need to take to collect the compensation you deserve:
Determining the Cause of Your Rear-End Collision
In most cases, the following driver will be deemed at fault in a rear-end collision. However, this is not always the case, and recovering financial compensation requires proof of the specific cause of your accident.
Determining the cause of a rear-end collision requires a comprehensive investigation. During this investigation, it is essential not only to collect all available evidence but also to preserve the available evidence to remain admissible in court. Among other things, this could involve documenting forensic evidence at the crash site (i.e., skid marks or the location of debris on the road), collecting documentary or video evidence (i.e., cell phone records or camera footage), and securing statements from anyone who witnessed the crash.
When you hire a lawyer for your rear-end collision, your lawyer will conduct an investigation promptly. Based on the evidence your lawyer uncovers, he or she will then decide regarding the cause of your crash. Some of the most common causes of rear-end collisions in South Carolina include:
- Dangerous road conditions (i.e., debris that caused a loss of traction)
- Distracted driving (i.e., texting or using social media behind the wheel)
- Fatigued driving
- Impaired driving
- Negligent hiring or entrustment (i.e., hiring an inexperienced driver who causes a crash)
- Vehicle defects and maintenance issues (i.e., faulty brakes)
Determining What Claim(s) You Need to File
Once your lawyer determines the cause of your rear-end collision, your lawyer can determine what claim (or claims) you need to file to recover just compensation. The possibilities include:
- A Claim Under the Other Driver’s Auto Insurance Policy – If the other driver was at fault in your rear-end collision, you should be able to file a claim under his or her auto insurance policy. All drivers are required to carry liability insurance under South Carolina law.
- A Claim Under Your Auto Insurance Policy – If the other driver is uninsured, you can file a claim under your uninsured motorist policy. If you have underinsured motorist and/or personal injury protection coverage (both of which are optional in South Carolina), you may be able to seek these types of coverage as well.
- A Claim Against a Vehicle Manufacturer, Dealership, or Repair Shop – If the other driver’s brakes failed, or if any other vehicle-related issue played a role in your rear-end accident, you may have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer, a dealership, or a repair shop that worked on the vehicle.
- A Claim Against a Government Entity or Contractor – If dangerous road conditions caused your accident, the government agency or contractor responsible for building or maintaining the road could be liable for your accident-related losses.
- A Claim Against the Driver’s Employer – If the other driver was working when he or she rear-ended you, you could also have a claim against the driver’s employer. This could be a claim based on “vicarious liability” or a claim based on negligent hiring or entrustment.
Taking Care of Your Medical Needs and Finances
While your lawyer is working on determining the cause of your rear-end collision and who is liable for your accident-related losses, you will need to focus on taking care of yourself. This includes seeking medical treatment, following your doctor’s advice, and managing your finances as best you can. If you run into financial trouble due to your accident, there are options available, and your lawyer can help you explore these options while your case is pending.
Calculating Your Accident Related Losses
Once you know what claim (or claims) you can file, the next step is to determine how much you can recover. This involves calculating your accident-related losses. Several factors determine the value of your claim, which we discussed in: How Much Can You Recover for a Car Accident in South Carolina?
Avoiding Mistakes that Could Negatively Impact Your Recovery
While there are several steps involved in seeking financial compensation for a rear-end collision, there are just as many mistakes you need to avoid. For an overview of some of these mistakes, you can read 10 Things Not to Do After a Car Accident in South Carolina.
Negotiating for an Out-of-Court Settlement (and Going to Court if Necessary)
In most cases, successful car accident claims are resolved via an out-of-court settlement. Once you know how much you are entitled to recover, you will be able to make informed decisions about accepting or rejecting settlement offers. Your lawyer can help as well, and your lawyer can explain how much you will take home after taking your legal fees, medical bills, and other expenses into account.
If you don’t receive an acceptable settlement offer, you will need to take your case to court. Of course, your case could still settle once your lawyer starts this process, but your lawyer will need to convince the judge or jury that you are entitled to just compensation if it doesn’t.
Discuss Your Case with a South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Were you injured in a rear-end collision in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us right away. To speak with a car accident lawyer at our law offices in Rock Hill, call 803-327-1103 or request a free consultation online now.