While it may not always be a big deal when you are in a fender bender in South Carolina, it can be. The state’s traffic laws and insurance regulations can be complex, and a skilled attorney can provide invaluable guidance to protect your rights and interests. Sometimes, these seemingly minor incidents can present more significant issues than you realize.
Common Reasons for Fender Benders
Fender benders, often attributed to inattentiveness or minor lapses in judgment, remain a pervasive concern on our roadways. There are several primary causes for these kinds of traffic incidents.
Inattentive driving is one of the most prevalent reasons for these accidents. When drivers take their eyes off the road, even for a split second to glance at a phone or adjust the radio, they significantly increase the risk of rear-ending the vehicle in front of them or failing to react to sudden stops. Texting, in particular, has emerged as a notorious culprit, simultaneously demanding people’s visual, manual and cognitive attention.
Following too closely behind the car ahead is another common cause of fender benders. This driving behavior reduces reaction time and leaves minimal room for error, making it easy to collide with the vehicle in front when it suddenly brakes.
Traveling Too Fast for Conditions
Unfavorable weather conditions can contribute significantly to fender benders. Rain, snow and fog reduce visibility and road traction, amplifying the risk of accidents. Drivers often fail to adjust their speed and driving habits accordingly, increasing the likelihood of sliding into other vehicles or skidding off the road.
Failing To Yield
Whether at intersections or during lane changes, disregarding traffic rules and failing to yield to other vehicles can result in side swipes and collisions. Staying vigilant, adhering to road signs, and practicing defensive driving techniques are essential to curb these common causes of fender benders and promote road safety for all.
Forgetting To Check Blind Spots
Fender-bender accidents often happen when drivers do not check the areas to the rear and sides of their cars. When backing out of a parking spot or changing lanes, ensuring no other vehicles are in the way is critical to avoid crashes. Drivers must also be aware of other motorists’ blind spots.
Slamming on the brakes suddenly can lead to fender benders. If a car stops without warning, the driver behind it may not have sufficient time to stop.
Steps To Take Following a Minor Collision
If you get into a fender bender, there are steps you should take to comply with the laws and protect your rights.
Stop Your Car
The law requires that you stop your vehicle and stay to handle the situation, even if it is a minor incident. Leaving the scene classifies the accident as a hit-and-run, a felony crime in South Carolina. If possible, take photos of your car where the crash occurred before moving your automobile.
Move Your Vehicle
If no one involved in the accident has serious injuries, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a nearby location if the shoulder is too narrow. Only do this if your car is drivable and it is not dangerous to do so. Turn on your hazard lights after parking in the new location.
In a car accident, even a minor one, you must provide certain information to the other driver and vice versa. Obtain the following:
- Driver’s name, address and contact information
- Automobile insurance information
- Driver’s license number of the other vehicle operator
- License plate number of the other party’s car
- Name and contact information of any witnesses
Take pictures of both cars, the scene of the accident and any relevant details. Photographs can provide evidence if you need it down the road. While a fender bender often does little damage to people and vehicles, it is impossible to know this definitively while still at the crash scene.
Call the Police
According to South Carolina law, if your accident did not cause injuries and has less than $1,000 of damage, you do not have to contact the police. However, it is wise to contact authorities for any accident.
Depending on the situation, they may or may not come to the scene, but it is vital to report your accident. A police report is an unbiased and official record of events. This documentation helps ensure your safety and also provides crucial evidence should you need it in the future.
Liable Parties in a Fender Bender
In South Carolina, determining liability in a fender bender can be complex, depending on various factors and regulations. Generally, the party responsible for the accident is liable for any resulting injuries or damages.
In most fender bender cases, one or both drivers may share some liability. The state’s comparative negligence rule means that each party can be responsible for some blame based on their contributions to the collision. This system enables both drivers to pursue compensation for their damages proportionally to their share of fault.
South Carolina adheres to a fault-based insurance system, meaning the at-fault party’s insurance is primarily responsible for covering damages incurred by the other party. If one driver is responsible, that party’s insurance provider typically pays the associated costs, including property damage and medical expenses. However, insurance policies and specific circumstances can vary. Discussing your incident with a legal professional can help you navigate the intricacies of liability.
Ways a Fender Bender Lawyer Helps
A qualified attorney can assess the unique circumstances of your collision and identify potential legal issues that may arise, such as disputed liability or injuries that may not be immediately apparent. They can address several aspects of your incident to help you protect your rights.
A thorough assessment considers whether any negligence, traffic violations or failure to comply with road rules contributed to your accident. Insurance companies and legal professionals typically evaluate evidence, witness statements and police reports to arrive at a fair allocation of liability. The ultimate goal is to ascertain which driver caused the collision.
Negotiates With Insurance Companies
Motorists should promptly contact their insurance providers to initiate the claims process after an incident. You will provide essential details about the accident, including the date, time, location and a comprehensive description of the events leading up to the collision. Insurance adjusters evaluate the extent of damages and determine liability based on state-specific regulations. However, dealing with insurance agencies can take time and effort.
Insurance representatives work to minimize payment amounts, making it essential to have an experienced negotiator handling your claim. Effective communication with insurance agents can be pivotal in ensuring a fair resolution.
Represents You in a Legal Claim
Should the need for litigation arise, a car accident lawyer can gather evidence, speak to witnesses and build a strong case on your behalf. A knowledgeable attorney can also handle compliance with court procedures, paperwork and deadlines. In South Carolina, where the legal landscape for personal injury and insurance claims can be intricate, consulting an attorney can help you receive fair compensation for your losses.
A Fender Bender Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Rights
You may not need to file a legal claim after a fender bender with minimal damage and no injuries. However, it is always advisable to consult an attorney to understand your rights and options. Contact our team at Jeffcoat Law Firm to learn how we can help.