Car accidents can leave serious financial consequences, such as medical expenses for treating your injuries and costs for repairing or replacing your vehicle.
You can get compensation to help with these. In South Carolina, the compensation process may involve filing a claim against the at-fault driver's insurer or taking more direct legal action against them.
After a collision, obtain a copy of the police report from the responding officers. This document has key information about the accident, such as who might have caused it. You may need the police report when pursuing compensation.
Hire a car accident lawyer to secure the police report about the accident. A Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer can do other things, too, to protect your best interests while you navigate this stressful experience.
Why Do You Need a Police Report After a Car Accident in Myrtle Beach?
In South Carolina, drivers must call police officers to the scene of any car accident that's more than just a fender bender, meaning a collision that's serious enough to cause injuries or significant vehicle damage. This rule ensures that everyone gets the assistance they need as quickly as possible and that the legal aftermath doesn't become contentious.
South Carolina's an at-fault state, and you must have liability insurance. To claim compensation for your damages, you must not be more than 50 percent responsible for the incident. That means there is always a high potential for multiple versions of the accident and who was at fault.
Police officers gather and preserve the information necessary to construct a complete picture of the accident throughout the legal process. These details are important when it comes to determining fault and liability.
The police report will contain details relevant to the legal process, including:
- Basic information, such as the accident's date, time, and location.
- The drivers' details, including names, addresses, and driver's license numbers.
- The drivers' insurance details to expedite the claims process.
- Information about all vehicles, including their make, model, color, and license plate numbers, as well as any visible damage's location and severity.
- A thorough description of the accident and any underlying causes from the observing officers and witnesses at the scene, including any indication of driver negligence.
- A diagram of the accident scene, including the vehicles' positioning, the potential event sequence, and key details, such as road signs and crosswalks, to create a visual record of the crash.
- A report of any injuries the responding officers observed, whether or not they required medical attention, and whether the involved parties wore seat belts.
- Any potentially contributing factors, such as traffic volume, weather events, road conditions, or negligent driving behaviors, including alcohol or drug usage, distracted driving, or speeding.
- Names and contact information for any third-party witnesses who can provide a statement that helps the investigation.
- Traffic violation citations the involved drivers received; these are crucial for determining fault, especially information regarding the blood-alcohol level of any driver if there are suspicions of intoxication.
- The responding officer's professional opinion about the incident and who was at fault, as their opinion can heavily influence the process of establishing liability.
- Identifying information from the police report, such as the responding officers' badge numbers and the incident report number.
Determining liability is one of the most crucial aspects of navigating the aftermath of a South Carolina car accident. False accusations of blame may prevent you from recovering compensation.
In the hands of a skilled car accident attorney, the police report's data is an indispensable tool for piecing together the series of events during the collision, proving the other party's negligence, and strengthening your claim to recover damages.
Getting a Copy of Your Car Accident Police Report in Myrtle Beach
If you have a car accident in Myrtle Beach, you receive an FR-10 form from the police officers responding to the crash. Each driver in a collision gets a copy of this insurance verification document, which serves a crucial role throughout the car accident claims process in South Carolina.
This form also has important information that you or your legal representatives need to secure your copy of the police report, which you require to pursue compensation after a car accident.
It's also important to know that the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles receives these reports within 24 hours of the incident.
That means the Department of Motor Vehicles holds these documents, not the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
Some of the ways to request your copy of this information include:
- Online request: You can fill out the Request for Copy of Collision Report, or FR-50, on the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles' online platform for a nominal fee of $6 per report. They will mail the report to you.
- Request by mail: If you prefer to mail the request, you can print out two copies of the FR-50 form and pay the $6 fee with a check or money order payable to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Mail your completed request to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, Financial Responsibility, P.O. Box 1498, Blythewood, South Carolina, 29016-0040.
- In-person request: Visit your local South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles office to fill out the form and pay the fee in person to receive the document immediately.
The car accident's police report contains a lot of sensitive, private information about a potentially serious incident. Therefore, they're not public records, and only the involved individuals or their legal representatives can request them.
That's why all of these methods require important identifying information about the requestor, including information that's only available in the FR-10 form you receive at the crash scene. You can, however, provide this form to the lawyer handling your claim, and they can request the police report on your behalf.
The car accident claims process in South Carolina requires a mountain of paperwork to substantiate both the events of the crash and your resulting damages. Having a lawyer means you can focus on your recovery as your legal team handles every aspect of the legal process.
The Importance of Police Report Throughout the Car Accident Claims Process
Most car accident cases in Myrtle Beach settle outside the courtroom, with legal representatives on both sides reviewing the evidence and reaching an agreement.
As an official record of the circumstances surrounding a car accident, the police report is influential in strengthening your case for the other driver's negligence, and your attorney can use this to help you pursue a favorable outcome. Some of the ways the police reports play a critical role throughout the claims process include:
The police report can serve as pivotal evidence to help establish who is liable for creating the accident's conditions. For example, it's significant to understand whether a driver cited for speeding, running a red light, or another traffic violation caused — or contributed to — the crash.
The police report can go a long way to help your attorney demonstrate the at-fault party's negligence as convincingly as possible.
Substantiating Injuries and Damages
Police reports from the responding officers also provide official documentation for the damages you sustained during the accident. They typically include their description of the extent of your vehicle's damage and their preliminary assessment of the nature of your injuries.
Your attorney can use this record to substantiate the economic and non-economic losses you may be eligible to recover as part of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Providing a Basis for Further Investigation
In some cases, the police report only has a basic snapshot of the events surrounding the accident, but it can still serve as an important starting point for your attorney to investigate further. The police report can include important resources, such as the contact information for witnesses who can provide a statement and photographs or videos documenting the scene right after the crash.
Your lawyer and the accident reconstructionists on their team can use this supplementary evidence to build a more persuasive case, establish liability, and help you recover compensation.
Types of Compensation That May Be Available After a South Carolina Car Accident
The weeks and months after a car accident can be incredibly stressful and confusing for you and your family, especially if you're facing significant physical and financial losses.
Getting the resources you need to move on with your life is a huge priority.
South Carolina's personal injury laws provide a path to get compensation for an accident that wasn't your fault, which is why the information found in the police report is so critical to the claims process. Depending on the specific details of your case, the types of compensation you can pursue after an accident in Myrtle Beach include:
Economic damages can compensate for the direct, quantifiable financial losses that result from an accident, such as the costs you incur during your rehabilitation.
The main economic damages include:
- Medical bills: This includes emergency transportation costs to get treatment for your injuries and longer-term needs, such as physical therapy, medication, or future surgeries. You can also factor in costs for medical equipment or any necessary modifications to your home to accommodate a disability.
- Lost income: Car accident victims are eligible for compensation for any work they miss while recovering. Economic damages can also reimburse your lost earning capacity if your injuries are serious enough to permanently affect your ability to work due to new physical or cognitive limitations.
- Property damage: Beyond the obvious car repairs or replacements, this category covers any personal items that suffer damage in the accident, such as smartphones or laptops.
Many of the most heartbreaking consequences of a car accident don't come with a price tag but still warrant compensation.
Non-economic damages cover these more abstract but equally important losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering: This refers to the physical pain and discomfort you experience in a car accident. An assessment of the severity of your pain, length of recovery, and the overall disruption to your life will determine this.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Non-economic damages also acknowledge the life-altering changes from serious injuries that stop you from enjoying hobbies or regular daily activities.
- Emotional distress: Car accidents often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other forms of psychological harm.
- Loss of consortium: These types of damages compensate for the accident's negative effects on your relationship with your spouse, including loss of companionship and the ability to have sex.
How an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A car accident can take a physical, emotional, and financial toll on you and your family. Then you face the uncertainty of navigating South Carolina's complicated legal system. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
A skilled Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer's expertise can make all the difference and help you protect your rights and avoid making expensive mistakes that may affect your claim. By investigating all available evidence, using the police report effectively, and documenting the full extent of your economic and non-economic damages, the right attorney can significantly improve your chances of getting fair compensation.