A car accident is traumatic and can alter your life in a number of ways, particularly if caused by negligence. If your car was written off, you could lose the only transportation you had to get to work and get your family around to work, school, or even the grocery store. If you have been seriously hurt, you may still have pain from those injuries and they could last the rest of your life. And, if those injuries alter your ability to do your work, or if you need continuous rehabilitation, you could lose wages from the time lost from work, which will have negative consequences on you and your entire family.
However, in Columbia, South Carolina, if you have been negatively affected by a car accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and loss of quality of life. However, you will need to show that the other driver showed negligence.
A few examples of at-fault driving and negligence include:
- Distracted driving
- Left turn collisions
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Rear end collision
- Drunk driving
These are just some examples of fault that can help you prove another driver’s negligence. Being able to show negligence is a critical part of your case.
When you want to pursue legal action against the negligent driver, you should be able to:
- Show that the driver was not careful
- Show that the law required the driver to be reasonably careful behind the wheel
- Show that the negligent driver’s actions caused your damages and injuries
Car Accident Damages in Columbia, South Carolina
State law requires the person who caused the accident to pay financial damages to the person that they injured. South Carolina refers to the negligent driver as the wrongdoer.
In our state, the law recognizes several kinds of damage. Compensatory damages, also referred to as actual damages, are aimed at restoring the injured person as if the injury had never occurred. An example of a compensatory damage is payment for the injured person’s medical bills. Another type of damage, punitive damages, penalize the wrongdoer for particularly bad conduct and justify the injured party’s rights.
How to Recover Your Damages for Negligence
If you are the person that has been injured, you will need to prove that the wrongdoer was reckless or negligent. South Carolina law defines vehicle accident negligence as the failure to exercise due care, the degree of which would have been exercised by an ordinarily reasonable person under the same circumstances. To put it more simply, a wrongdoer is legally responsible for an accident when he or she unjustifiably breaks a traffic safety rule.
The state’s law requires that the individual or group that acted with negligence pay you, the injured person, enough money for all the losses and harms he or she causes. One way you can analyze the amount of damages is to think of it as putting yourself in the same position as you were before you were injured. For instance, when a driver breaks a rule of the road and crashes into you, the wrongdoer must pay for the damages caused to your car, as well as your medical bills. The damages are aimed at making it up to you for the injury caused, or at least as close as possible by paying you money. He or she can’t take back a broken leg, so the wrongdoer must make a financial payment.
Actual Damages in a Car Accident in Columbia, S.C.
Most car accident cases focus on actual damages, with few cases rarely involving punitive damages due to the severe wrongdoing you, as the injured person, must show.
Actual damages concerning negligence that may be awarded can include the below based on the kind of case you have, including past, present, and future:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Impairment or loss of earning capacity
- Alteration of lifestyle
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Deprivation of normal life expectancy
- Future damages from permanent injuries
- Psychological trauma
- Loss of family services
- Mental distress
- Emotional injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Sexual dysfunction
The proper documentation of damages from negligence is vital for a successful trial or settlement of your car accident or personal injury claim for a number of reasons. For instance, insurance providers will need an record of the claimed damages, which can be your doctor’s diagnosis or records. Many people injured in car accidents can experience debilitating anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after a crash. These kinds of damages must be noted in the physician’s records.
Also, people often tend to forget details about how their lives were impacted by the injuries they incurred from an accident involving negligence. The solution is to maintain a journal documenting the battles of dealing with the injuries. This is a good way for a lawyer to understand how the injuries specifically impacted on the injured person’s daily life.
Further, proper and thorough documentation of each medical provider, prescriptions, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost time off work will help to present your claim with accuracy. It’s easy for an injured person to forget about a missed day from work or a doctor’s visit, but that makes sense since injuries are often accompanied by medication that can have an impact on the short-term memory.
What About Punitive Damages for Negligence?
Punitive damages fall into a completely different category. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer because of the gravity of his or her conduct amount a variety of other reasons. The law, along with most juries, tend to view a wrongdoer’s behavior deserving of these damages for causing an accident while under the influence of alcohol versus causing an accident due to driving too fast in rainy weather.
The law in South Carolina requires wrongdoers to put you, as good as money can, in the position you were prior to being injured. What’s more, if his or her conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages aim to punish the wrongdoer.
Do You Need to Seek Compensation?
If you have been involved in a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver, talk to a knowledgeable attorney at the Jeffcoat Firm to find out what compensation you may be able to seek.