Car accidents occur every day. The shock and adrenaline from the accident can cause those involved to feel only minimal, if any, pain at the scene of the accident. The minimal pain can worsen or continue to be present for months after the accident. This article explains the process in a car accident lawsuit but nothing beats an SC car accident attorney to evaluate and handle your case.
Suppose you as a driver are in Charleston on your way to the store and in the process of making a lefthand turn. Your turn signal is on and have been waiting for a minute to safely cross lanes of traffic when all of a sudden an SUV going 30 mph rear-ends your vehicle. You are stunned as you exit the vehicle and feel pain in your shoulder. Police are called and you receive an FR-10 form as well as the insurance information from the vehicle that hit you. You then go to the hospital with initial pain and after examination are sent home.
Months go by and your pain has not only not gone away but worsened to the point you are no longer able to work. To alleviate the pain, you seek treatment from a chiropractor but to no avail, your pain persists. Eventually, you go to your doctor and he informs you that the car accident caused enough damage to need surgery. You proceed with surgery with an additional four months of physical therapy.
You think you are not able to bring a suit because months have gone by, and even if you could, you would not know where to begin. Below is a walk-through of a civil litigation car accident case using a personal injury attorney in SC.
Demand Letter Starts Car Accident Lawsuit
You will meet with an attorney to discuss your injuries: what was injured, have you been treated, do you still need treatment, can you no longer work, etc. Your attorney will gather all relevant information that pertains to your injuries and send a demand letter to the insurance company of the other driver. A demand letter is a formal document explaining your accident and injuries.
Above, the injured would discuss the accident, the FR-10 form he received, his doctor visit bills, surgery bills, physical therapy treatment, and inability to work. Documentation of all things described would be collected and sent over to the insurance company of the SUV traveling 30 mph.
Filing of Lawsuit is the Formal Complaint in SC Car Accident
If the insurance company chooses not to offer their insurer’s coverage, your attorney can choose to bring suit. A lawsuit will be filed in the county in which the accident occurred, or in which the injured party lives. An initial lawsuit will entail a summons and complaint. The complaint simply asserts why the Defendant was negligent.
The injured would file suit in Charleston, South Carolina. An attorney would file a summons and complaint and pay for the legal fees associated with bringing the lawsuit. You would be the Plaintiff, the one bringing the suit, and the other driver the Defendant. The Defendant would then file an answer to your complaint where they respond to your summons.
Next, both parties exchange what is known as discovery. Discovery is when the parties can ask each other questions about the accident, the people involved, and what pictures or documents the other one has. Attorneys may not know the specific answers to questions being asked and will give their clients a call to get information. For example, a party may ask if any drugs were taken 24 hours prior to the accident. Parties have 30 days to respond to each other’s discovery but may also request and grant extensions.
The client would give their attorney everything they have to produce to opposing counsel. The client would give copies of any tickets received due to the accident, the FR-10 form, pictures of injuries, pictures of the accident scene, medical bills incurred since the accident, etc.
After initial discovery, attorneys will then schedule depositions for the parties. Depositions are when a person formally states on the record what he or she may know about a lawsuit. Depositions are normally held at an attorney’s office. Attorneys from both parties will be present as well as a court reporter. The court reporter will record and document all questions and answers that take place and produce a deposition transcript. These transcripts can be used as evidence at trial.
The time it takes to go through a deposition varies depending on who is being deposed. For example, in the above scenario, the injured would probably take a few hours to be deposed. A witness who saw the accident take place may only take thirty minutes.
After depositions, attorneys can request additional discovery and issue subpoenas based on a deponent’s answers. Subpoenas are legal documents that attorneys send that request records on file. For example, if you claim you made $25.00 an hour at your workplace, but are now unable to work, an attorney could send a subpoena to your employer for your time card.
After depositions, mediation is scheduled. Mediation is when all parties meet at a mutually convenient venue to discuss settlement options. A mediator is summoned to preside over this conference. Parties present their case to the mediator, then separate into different rooms. The mediator will go to each of the rooms to discuss the party’s case individually and what they are going to offer the other party to settle the case. The mediator is impartial and there to give advice on offers that are made by each party.
Many cases are able to be resolved at mediation. Parties can agree on a mutually acceptable offer and the case will be done.
Trial in SC Car Accident Lawsuit
If a case goes through mediation and a settlement is not reached, the parties then go to trial. Attorneys will pick a jury and present the case before them. Witnesses will be called on the stand to testify about the case. Depending on the complexity and witness list, trial can take multiple days. Once both parties are done presenting their case, the jury is excused to deliberate. Once the jury reaches a decision, they announce to the court their decision. The decision could be no award to the Plaintiff, partial award to the Plaintiff or the highest limit possible in the state.
If a party disagrees with the jury’s decision, they have thirty days to file an appeal. A judge will either grant or deny this motion.
Please note this is an overview of the process and not intended as legal advice. The circumstances and legal aspects of each case vary. This information is distinct from the practice of law. If you are searching for personalized legal advice for you or someone you know from SC Car Accident Attorney, please contact us, call 843-212-3188 and check out John Henderson more information.